Innovation Process Learning from Siemens

Interview by Anne Lochoff with Klaus Heidinger at the World Cities Summit 2018 Singapore

Asia P3 Hub

Siemens is a global powerhouse focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of systems and solutions for intelligent traffic management, rail-bound transportation, smart grids, power distribution, energy efficient buildings, safety and security.

They have taken up firm positions along the electrification value chain — which covers the transformation, intelligent transmission and distribution of energy as well as its efficient utilization. With its pronounced strengths in the automation field, the company is well placed to face the future in general and the digital age in particular.

Anne Lochoff, our Strategic Business Advisor and an advocate for innovation and smart cities, had the privilege to interview Klaus Heidinger at the World Cities Summit 2018 in Singapore last July about the innovation process at Siemens. Klaus is the Head of City IT Solutions at the Siemens Global Centre of Competence Cities, London.

Can you share insights into Siemens innovation process?

Siemens promotes open innovation. Today’s world is faster and much more diverse than it once was. That’s why Siemens is opening up both internally and externally. As part of this evolutionary process, the company is acting as a hub in a global research network, while it brings the next generation of innovations to life.

Here are few examples of how we do it:

  1. Co-creation with customers in the digital age: Siemens has created MindSphere Application Centers to develop new business models, digital solutions and services as well as industrial applications in focus verticals using MindSphere. The MindSphere Application Centers are close to where customers operate and focus on a certain market verticals. The aim is to offer digital innovations/offerings that add real value to customer operations. Siemens has distributed its 20 centers across around 50 locations in 17 countries. Nearly all of the MindSphere Application Centers have been ramped up within one year. Today, around 900 software developers, data scientists and engineers are already working together with customers to develop digital solutions and services as well as vertical specific applications. Digitalization Hub = MindSphere Application Centers
  2. Next47: It is a global venture firm created by Siemens to invest in entrepreneurs who think big and build companies that will change the way we live and work. They selectively accelerate and build new business ideas. Next47 place the best ideas from within Siemens into the ecosystem and they also connect innovations from the market into Siemens’s world of customers, domain expertise, technologies and business units.
  3. Partnerships with universities and research institutes: Siemens conducts long-term researches with universities. These strategic partnerships are supplemented by individual scientific work that Siemens commissions at universities and research institutes around the world and by many publicly sponsored joint research projects.
  4. Collaboration with start-ups: The globally networked technology scouts from Next47 are located in Berkeley, Shanghai, Munich and soon Tel Aviv as well. They identify start-ups, which have exhibited initial successes in the innovative fields of connected (e-)mobility, decentralized electrification, autonomous machines, artificial intelligence and blockchain applications.
  5. Investments in start-ups: Next47 identifies young companies and finances them during the start-up phase. Siemens has already been collaborating with innovative start-up companies for 20 years. The company has invested upwards of 800 million euros in more than 180 start-ups thus far. Next47 will have one billion euros at its disposal over the next five years.
  6. Founding start-ups: Next47 advises and supports entrepreneurs who possess an excellent business idea, new technology or already have a prototype, but are embarking on the realization thereof.
  7. Crowdsourcing of ideas: For years, Siemens has also been looking for exciting ideas on public crowdsourcing platforms and in internal idea contests. One example is Quickstarter, where researchers and Siemens employees allocate money to projects that originated from their colleagues’ ideas. Adequately financed ideas are implemented without any further decision by management. Nearly 300 ideas were submitted within a two-year period.
  8. Interchange and collaboration platforms: Nowadays, Siemens employees can use the collaboration platforms and within seconds, request support from more than 50,000 experts worldwide. Simply by clicking on the social network TechnoWeb. The same applies to groups on the internal social network SSN (Siemens Social Network).

How is Siemens managing the innovation process to create Smart City Solutions while involving diverse ways of thinking?

Here is an example relevant for this region. In summer 2017, Siemens launched a Digitalization Hub in Singapore to offer an ideal place from which to serve the digital needs of our customers throughout Asia and beyond.

At this center, Siemens will develop innovations for the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 in collaboration with its customers in Southeast Asia. Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), the Centre will also complement the county’s efforts to become a smart nation, because Siemens will be using its IoT operating system MindSphere — to drive digitalization in Singapore

The center brings together data scientists, solution architects, software engineers, system experts and domain specialists from the urban infrastructure, industrial and healthcare sectors. They will develop, test and commercialise innovations and future-ready digital solutions.

These industry experts are able to provide to Siemens partners in Asia Pacific region support in digital transformation of their urban infrastructure, with the wide-ranging digital services to provide greater efficiency and integration to enable cities to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Last year, we have also set up a Smart City Digital Hub in cooperation with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP). The Centre now serves as an “open urban laboratory” where infrastructure operators and start-ups can implement a digital portfolio of smart city applications. The research and development efforts focus on the areas of data analytics, Internet of Things, connectivity, cyber security, embedded computing, smart buildings, smart power and smart mobility.

Today at the World Cities Summit [July 2018], Siemens has just launched the City Air Management (CyAM) solution and signed a MoU with a first Asian city to deploy it. This cloud-based software from Siemens monitors and forecasts the air pollution levels in a city for the next 3–5 days with an accuracy of up to 90%. This solution also advises and predicts the impact of short-term policies and technology measures implemented on a city infrastructure. We have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City to be the first pilot to deploy City Air Management.


Interview by Anne Lochoff, Asia P3 Hub’s Strategic Business Advisor.

Anne Lochoff is one of 9 Women rated as the Top Global Influencers of Tech Innovation in Cities by Inc.com in 2016. Common strengths in strategy, design and technology integration run through Anne’s career. While intersecting across government, academia, business and NGO’s.

Currently consulting as a strategic business advisor to the Executive Director of the World Vision hosted Asia P3 Hub based in Singapore. She is also the former chair and business advisor at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Beachheads network South East Asia.

As a former Executive Director at McCann Erickson she was part of the global team managing the MasterCard account for APMEA (Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa).

Find her in LinkedIn or Twitter.


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