LUC Germany: Innovation at SCHOTT – A tradition more than 125 years old

16 Nov 2011 in Alumni by Jona Hampe

LUC Germany: Innovation at SCHOTT – A tradition more than 125 years old

November 7, 2011: Aachen, Germany

UNITECH is supported by international technology companies, but how do these companies generate technology? Where does the innovation come from that leads to an ongoing successful business development in the high tech environment?

The LUC Aachen had the very fortunate opportunity to find out during the event “Innovation at SCHOTT – A tradition more than 125 years old”. Our special guest of the evening Dr. Reiner Mauch, head of Coorporate Business Development at SCHOTT AG, presented SCHOTT and its innovation management system.

After a short introduction to the company, its business units and their products Dr. Mauch gave an overview over the initial innovations that started the growth of SCHOTT to becoming the biggest manufacturer of high tech glass in the world. Innovation at SCHOTT happens on two different levels. On the business unit level innovations are aligned with the respective business unit strategy. The strategy is translated into innovation goals for the respective products. These are then developed in projects with a horizon of three to five years. Developments which are associated with a higher failure risk are researched in a corporate research facility. These projects are usually the ones leading to so called disruptive innovations. An innovation in the eyes of SCHOTT is a novelty which has not existed before, is recognized as new and provides a perceived added customer value. This also applies for many further developments of existing products. A disruptive innovation creates something which has not existed before and opens a new market.

Besides outlining the different ways of how innovation is achieved, Dr. Mauch emphasized the importance of innovation management. One focus of innovation always has to be the added customer value. The integration of application knowledge into the development process is therefore crucial for success.

Besides the two different innovation approaches already described, Dr. Mauch also presented the concept of so called “open innovation”. Open innovation is a method to include external people and their ideas into the innovation process of a company. Usually these people provide their ideas for free and receive a share of the profit in case their idea is accepted and transformed into a product. SCHOTT tested this concept in an open innovation contest looking for a new application for glass tubes with polyangular cross section. Besides receiving ideas from over sixty countries, the contest also made the name SCHOTT more popular around the globe.

After the very interesting talk by Dr. Mauch and a discussion in the plenary session we continued the discussion in a more informal way with snacks and drinks. As topics moved away from innovation, Dr. Mauchs experience as executive vice president of SCHOTT Asia lead to a very interesting experience exchange between him and Alumni with an Asian centered internship. After almost two and a half hours of talk and discussion we had to leave the university premises and continued the discussion with a slightly smaller group in a pub located in the old city center of Aachen.

The evening was very interesting for all participating Alumni. It connected Alumni in different career stages and from different study backgrounds and received a very positive feedback from all sides. Furthermore it gave the LUC Aachen the great opportunity to gain insides into a core process for future success of an international technology company. Being able to listen to a high class speaker like Dr. Mauch within the rather intimate UNITECH group was a unique experience and we appreciated it very much. The LUC Aachen wants to especially thank Dr. Mauch for coming to Aachen and Claudia Müller for making this event possible!

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