The Lohn Award jury honors the outstanding achievements and merits of Prof. Dr. h. c. Lothar Späth as a cofounder and pioneer of Steinbeis with a special award. Together with Johann Lohn he developed the Steinbeis model 30 years ago and he did it with enthusiasm and a political and entrepreneurial vision.
After having finished his apprenticeship in public administration, Lothar Späth was councilor for fi nance and mayor in Bietigheim- Bissingen. For many years he was active as a board member and managing director of companies in the property developer and construction industry, also he was a member of different supervisory boards and advisory councils. From 1972 until 1987, Lothar Späth was chairman of the CDU party in the state parliament of Baden-Wurttemberg and from 1979 until 1991 he held the CDU Baden-Wurttemberg chairmanship followed by his appointment to honorary chairman. In 1978, Lothar Späth was elected Minister of the Interior and shortly after Prime Minister of Baden-Wurttemberg. He was in offi ce until 1991. Afterwards, Lothar Späth went back to the private sector where he fi rstly became managing director, then chairman of the executive board and lastly chairman of the supervisory board of today´s Jenoptik AG. As from 2005 he was chairman of the managing board of the investment bank Merill Lynch for Germany and Austria. Until today he contributes his expertise to several supervisory boards and advisory councils and especially to non-profi t institutions.
During his time as Prime Minister, Lothar Späth felt the time is ripe for political action to cope with the state’s changing business landscape, much of it shaped by mid-sized companies. Though it seems self-explanatory today, his technological foresight met with skepticism and criticism. Yet Spath was not deterred, commissioning Johann Lohn – then-principal and head of the Technology Consulting Service Centers at the Furtwangen University of Applied Sciences – to head up a committee on “technology transfer”. The committee’s fi ndings laid the groundwork for establishing a new position: a Government Commissioner for Technology Transfer (GCTT). Johann Lohn quickly started pinpointing what the GCTT should accomplish. Lothar Späth appointed him GCTT and chairman of the Steinbeis Foundation. Thus the Steinbeis model was born. Lothar Späth confirms, „Instead of getting bogged down with overcomplicated ideas, we wanted to get people excited about our ideas and put them into practice – that was something we both fi rmly believed in. Even after my term as Minister President of Baden-Wurttemberg, I still stayed in touch with Steinbeis. These days, Steinbeis runs successfully of its own steam and is the gold standard of technology transfer.” Lothar Späth´s strategic farsightedness, his concrete actions and his personal support laid the foundation for the Steinbeis model. Therefor Steinbeis would like to thank Lothar Späth with the Lohn Award 2013 as a special award, ensuring that we will continue building upon these keystones.