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A step closer to joint European risk management

Second iNTeg-Risk conference looks at new technologies and emerging risk

Building on the success of the first iNTeg-Risk conference in 2009, another conference was organized this year by the European Virtual Institute for Integrated Risk Management (EU-VRi), this time entitled “Dealing with multiple and interconnected emerging risks”.

The long-term application and development of new technology is not just central to research and science. In business and politics there is also hope that further efficiency gains can be made. But it is often difficult to research the risks posed by new technology, so the aim is to deal with these risks together, across Europe, on a common foundation. Given the plurality of the parties involved, this goal is by no means self-evident. As a continuation of the first conference in 2009, the next event in the early summer of 2010 laid the foundations for a “European answer” to the question of which potential risks are created by the emergence of new technologies and how they should be addressed.

This is the task being tackled by a European Commission project looking at iNTeg-Risk (“Early Recognition, Monitoring and Integrated Management of Emerging, New Technology Related Risks”). The first results of the joint project are now available, including instruments such as the creation of a web-based risk atlas to capture global risks, and the Safetypedia project, a kind of wiki on safety. An evaluation of the results, and how this should be used, was the main issue discussed at the one-week conference in Stuttgart. Other events during the week focused on issues such as the measurability of risk and semantic networks. Another topic was an instrument that analyzes information on the internet to recognize the indications of new risk.

A network for bio-active plant ingredients

Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum coordinates a consortium

As part of the NEMO funding module of ZIM, the Central Innovation Programme SME of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum has been granted funding to set up a network for “bio-active plant ingredients” in Baden-Württemberg. The network already has 16 members from industry, research and marketing and is aimed at promoting “bioactivity and health” in the state. The role of the Steinbeis- Europa-Zentrum since August: to coordinate the network consortium for a year, with the objective of establishing the network in Baden-Württemberg in the long term.

The network aims to improve the understanding of secondary plant compounds and their effectiveness, and to improve ingredient quality. It also aims to boost the contribution made toward scientifically proving the health benefits of secondary plant compounds. Further, by linking up research and medium-sized companies, resources and synergies should be created, adding transparency for consumers through clear communication and marketing strategies.

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology’s ZIM scheme promotes innovation and competitiveness at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as among handicraft businesses and people involved in unaffiliated professions. The aim is to provide long-term support, promote growth, and safeguard and create jobs. ZIM is a national funding program open to SMEs in all areas of technology and industry, as well as research establishments closely involved in or working with industry.

Major recognition

Steinbeis researcher awarded enterprise medal

The director of the Steinbeis transfer center for Geoinformation and Land Management, Prof. Dr. Martina Klärle was awarded a major prize from the State of Baden-Württemberg in July: the enterprise medal. This medal is the highest award bestowed by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics. It is awarded to people and companies in recognition of outstanding services to the regional economy.

“It was a really wonderful surprise. I’m thrilled that my commitment to climate protection and my contributions to rural areas is being recognized in this way,” says Martina Klarle. Ms Klarle’s work also sets clear signals for young girls: “Currently, only 8 per cent of young women go into a MINT profession [Mathematics, Informatics, Natural Sciences and Technology], and 26 per cent of them do MINT studies. Nothing is more inspiring than inspirational people like you!” says Ernst Pfister, economics minister, in bestowing the award.

Professor Klarle plans to continue her work in this area. Her research project to identify the solar potential of all rooftops, which has already found its way into industry, took a major leap forward with its latest version, SUN-AREA 2.0. The professor from Frankfurt has made SUN-AREA 2.0 even more useful to businesses, so as well as showing how suitable a roof is for solar panels, it even recommends the type of equipment to go on each roof. For every building, a profitability calculator shows the payback on any given solar panel based on current pricing models. Now, no longer does the system only calculate this for conventional uniform rooftops, it also works with special shapes such as arched or undulating roofs.

Klarle’s SUNAREA project has already demonstrated that more than 20 per cent of German rooftops are suitable for solar power generation – enough to answer the entire private electricity demand. Professor Klarle also works in other areas, not just solar energy. This year she will complete her sustainability research project “Erneuerbar KOMM!”. Her work will result in a guide for local communities to identify the potential of renewable energy in their area, so it is particularly targeted at small and medium-sized communities. The guide will allow communities to calculate potential without third-party help.

Modern grinding technology and microfinishing

Stuttgart’s “Haus der Wirtschaft” hosts 8th seminar

The 8th seminar on “Modern grinding technology and microfinishing” took place at the start of the summer with around 260 attendees. The topics revolving around different aspects of grinding technology and microfinishing were presented by specialists from research and industry. The seminar was organized by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Taghi Tawakoli, head of the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Advanced Engineering Technology at Furtwangen University.

The seminar was opened by ministry representative Gunther Lesnerkraus from the Baden-Wurttemberg Ministry of Economics, followed by a series of up-to-the-minute talks by presenters from industry and research institutes.

A defining feature of Baden-Wurttemberg is that it is home to the highest concentration of manufacturing companies involved in mechanical engineering, the automotive industry and medical technology in Europe. The success of this regional economy lies not in producing cheap products, however, but products of premium quality. This high quality has been achieved by mastering the science of microfinishing and grinding technology. The scale of industry response to the seminar confirmed the level of interest in the topics and the strong expectations and requirements placed on new developments in microfinishing and grinding technology.

Outstanding - not just in the south of the country

The 2010 Baden-Württemberg Competence Prize for Innovation and Quality

The 2010 Baden-Württemberg Competence Prize was presented at the “Control” trade fair to Klaus Fischer, owner/manager of the Fischer group of companies from Waldachtal and to the Igersheim-based machine maker Wittenstein alpha. Now in its third year, the prize comes under the patronage of Steinbeis and is an initiative of the Ulm-based Steinbeis enterprise TQU Group and trade fair organizer P.E. Schall. It recognizes the achievements of companies in reconciling the challenges of innovation and quality, and then translating this professionally into practice – resulting in sustainable and measurable commercial success. This year, the Mahr GmbH, a producer of production measurement technology also received a special award for business excellence.

At the ceremony, Professor Dr. Heinz Trasch, Chairman of the Steinbeis Foundation Board, explained that Klaus Fischer had been awarded the prize for “continual excellence in innovation and quality, in combination with exemplary social commitment.” Especially in the latter area, the jury found his work outstanding not least for engendering an extraordinary company culture. The Fischer group of companies has been the epitome of innovation, quality and service for more than 60 years, with Klaus Fischer at the helm for half of this time. Under his leadership, the medium-sized company has developed into a global business, with products sold in every corner of the globe. Fischer registers over 14 patents per 1000 employees a year, placing it second on the list of major patent registers in Germany. Klaus Fischer already received the Federal Cross of Merit in 2007 for his outstanding contribution to in-house and external training and employee development. Speaking at the ceremony, Fischer described the award as a “formidable honor, especially because it recognizes the link between innovation and quality, in combination with long-term, positive results.” As well as describing this recognition as “personal praise,” Fischer accepted “the award with delight, on behalf of all employees at the Fischer group of companies.”

Explaining the decision, Helmut Bayer, jury member and director of TQU Business GmbH, said, “Expanding the Competence Prize categories to recognize individuals and their work with associations is a further signal of the need to acknowledge performance and the acceptance the Baden-Wurttemberg Competence Prize has gained since its introduction three years ago.” The jury’s job was to pick a winner from a shortlist of ten. The original number of candidates was over 100. To gain an appreciation of how much Wittenstein alpha deserved its prize, the jury visited the company, which as well as presenting the example submitted in its application, portrayed the image of a genuine, exemplary company. The jury was particularly won over by its concerted efforts to improve products and processes through innovation activity, resulting in a significant reduction in warranty costs – which could be considered a benchmark for the entire sector.

The jury also judged the company Mahr worthy of an award for its digital calipers, a further step in consolidating the market standing of the company. The jury was particularly impressed by the systematic approach taken by the company and its clearly organized product development processes. These take user requirements into account early in the process, reflecting these in the work and targets set in development, sales, marketing, production and financial accounts. Mahr received particular praise for its observance of the very highest standards and interaction with the production site in China, which is also an example to the sector.

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