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Room for new ideas

Leading into the future

Drive the change

Innovation cycles are becoming shorter and shorter, technical progress is accelerating. Established technology leaders must speed up their processes. Here they can learn a thing or two from start-ups. Prof. Dr. Tim Hosenfeldt brings Schaeffler together with incubator centers in Nuremberg and Berlin.

Digitalization, interconnection, new business models: In a world that is changing faster than ever before, technology leaders such as Schaeffler are facing new challenges. Many of the processes that have been in place thus far are proving to be too slow as the pace of innovation keeps gaining momentum. However, the path to innovation is long and ranges from identifying key issues to marketing the finished solution. Many obstacles must be overcome along the way. For Tim Hosenfeldt, this is the reason why companies themselves must change as well.

In his role as Senior Vice President Corporate Innovation at Schaeffler, Hosenfeldt wants to drive these changes forward. One important goal in this regard is to transform the findings acquired through applied research into marketable products. With the “Schaeffler Hub for Advanced Research” (SHARE) established at universities in Karlsruhe, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Singapore, and Chengdu, Schaeffler has laid the foundation for rapid knowledge transfer. To create room for new ideas within the company, Hosenfeldt also relies on learning from the fast and agile approach of start-ups.

He has identified the new “Zollhof Tech Incubator” in Nuremberg as a suitable location for this mission. The digital start-up center sees itself as the nucleus of innovation and is focused on fledgling business enterprises in the IT scene, which meet here with large companies from the region. Schaeffler is a founding member of Zollhof and not only rents out inexpensive workspace to start-ups, but also participates in scene events such as hackathons and so-called “TechSpace Hackdays”, where young companies present the prototypes of new products. “With their fresh and uncomplicated approach, start-ups in particular often offer impressively simple solutions,” emphasizes Hosenfeldt.

You have to kindle people’s enthusiasm for new ideas, bring them on board, and make them ambassadors of change.

Prof. Dr. Tim Hosenfeldt, Senior Vice President Corporate Innovation

Tim Hosenfeldt (Schaeffler) im Gespräch

Breaking out of one’s own four walls: This also applies to Schaeffler’s commitment to Factory Berlin. For about a year now, Schaeffler has been a partner of what is Germany’s first and largest start-up campus. On more than 16,000 square meters of office space, young start-ups can get together with established technology companies. “Here, our project teams glean many ideas from other disciplines on common topics such as digitalization, sensor technology, machine learning, and urban mobility,” reports Hosenfeldt. “At the Factory, they also acquaint themselves with new forms of collaboration which do not stop at traditional company boundaries.”

Despite all the technology, it is always ultimately people who implement innovations. “The necessary changes cannot be effected within a company from the outside,” stresses Hosenfeldt. “You have to kindle people’s enthusiasm for new ideas, bring them on board, and make them ambassadors of change.” To achieve this objective, the project teams from Corporate Innovation work closely with the individual Schaeffler departments across all divisions. This is the only way to turn an idea into a marketable and successful product.

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