Siemens to Blaze New Trails in Research

by Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens AG
Jul 20, 2016 7:35 AM ET

A leading technology company like Siemens has to do everything possible to identify paradigm shifts in time and adapt to new realities. Today, digitalization is triggering paradigm shifts that impact all of our company’s businesses – whether in the area of manufacturing, energy systems, infrastructure or medical engineering.

And digitalization has radically changed research and development in the last few years. The solitary inventor has been replaced by the creative team, silo thinking has given way to networking, flexible approaches have taken the place of strict regulation. All this is impacting the way we manage innovation. As a large company, Siemens has extensive capabilities and global reach. It’s process-oriented. But its sheer size sometimes slows things down. Start-ups, on the other hand, are creative, often disruptive, fast and solution-oriented. The ideal is a combination of both worlds. That’s why we’ve set up next47 – a separate unit that will provide consulting and promote business and project ideas independently of our core businesses and that will offer entrepreneurs eager to blaze new trails a dynamic working environment.

At their summit in Elmau last June, the heads of the G7 countries agreed to “decarbonize” the world by 2100. At Siemens, we see this as a mandate to utilize our innovation power to free the world of CO2 emissions. And it’s in precisely this area that we’ve set up our first project: a venture to develop hybrid electric propulsion systems for airplanes. Together with Airbus, we’re going to employ automation and digitalization technology – that is, 3D simulation, computer aided engineering, computer aided design and product lifecycle management software – to advance the electrification of air travel. And to make this happen, we’re going to invest a substantial amount of money and set up a team of around 200 experts from both companies.

I’m convinced that next47 will provide answers to many of the future’s most urgent questions: Where is artificial intelligence taking us? What role will autonomous systems play in the manufacturing industry of the future? How will we distribute energy intelligently? How will we travel from point A to point B? In a word: How do we want to live in the future?

Siemens is Turning Over a New Leaf in the History of its Innovations
But next47 is just one of the things we’re doing to move our company forward. Our experts are also working at universities and research institutes worldwide to link our research activities more closely to those of the scientific community. For example, in the next few years, around 300 Siemens employees will be relocating to the Garching campus of Munich Technical University (TUM), where they’ll work side by side with scientists on topics like IT security and autonomous systems. Collaboration with the TUM – one of our nine key strategic partner universities worldwide – will provide us with ideal conditions for strengthening our global R&D network.

All this represents a new chapter in our history of innovation – a history that began with Werner von Siemens’ invention of the pointer telegraph in 1847. This year’s celebrations of his 200th birthday are an added incentive for us to be inspired by his example and to lead our company into a successful future.