Innovation Process Learning from Siemens

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

Klaus Heidinger, Head of City IT Solutions, Siemens

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.

  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).
Siemens promoting open innovation

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.

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