Can collaboration boost innovation?Exploring „Fab-Lab-Share“ models.
Next MQ! Innovation Summit|November 8-9, 2018
Janina Goldberg has been fascinated by new ideas and methods since she was a little girl. Today she heads the innovation management team in Electrics/Electronics Procurement at Audi. The workspace at MQ! brought important new contacts, findings and inspiration.
in your resume it says that you were fascinated with new ideas even when you were a 12-year-old. What were the first big hits in your career?
Together with school friends, I won the regional “Young Researchers” competition twice in East Württemberg, first in the biology category and then in the work environment category. In the second competition we tested the quality of paper towels – using a glass plate, a blob of ketchup and a toy train that drove over the setup. With this experiment I also won first prize in the nationwide “Students Research” competition in 2001.
You work at Audi as a purchaser in Electrics/Electronics. How well are you able to implement innovations there?
I coordinate the high-voltage vehicle electrical system and special cables team. This is an important topic for the future, but, practically speaking, it also involves components that we will be installing in our cars quite soon. In parallel, I head the innovation management team in Electrics/Electronics Procurement. We function rather operationally here: We want to find new solutions for the cars of the future and implement actual projects in which we work closely with colleagues from Development.
How far out does your time horizon extend?
We want to know which components we will need in 5 to 7 years – what might be important then. We worked with colleagues from Lighting Development in January and created a start-up event for a major supplier for which we selected 12 start-ups from numerous applicants that deal with innovative light technologies. These applicants presented pitches during our event that promoted their products. One or more of these ideas might possibly be included in Audi models of the future.
What basic ideas are you pursuing with innovation management?
The first question is: Where do we get exciting innovations from? We pursue multiple approaches to scouting: We go to events or even organize them ourselves with colleagues from Technical Development if we see a need relating to a certain topic. For example, the start-up event for lighting in the car of the future. In addition, we try to use the synergies within the Group and work closely with colleagues from various regions of the world. Two weeks ago, for instance, we organized a start-up event with colleagues from VW Budapest. Colleagues from the Regional Sourcing Office Eastern Europe searched Eastern European countries for interesting start-ups in the electrics/electronics segment. Then we invited them together to an event where we examined and evaluated the ideas and products. The second task is to implement the best ideas we have found in our cars as quickly as possible and with the right people. And that is not so easy because the processes don’t fit together, for one thing. Audi is more of a cruise liner while the start-up is a speedboat. We place a high priority on premium quality. A start-up, on the other hand, is very quick. We can learn from each other here.
Was that the motivation for your workspace at MQ!?
Yes. We wanted to find new impetus for the collaboration. We were four colleagues from the innovation management team together with two external people we had already collaborated with: Daniel Cronin, the start-up guru from Vienna, and a colleague from an engineering subsidiary of Audi. The workspaces were designed as role play. Two groups each represented the start-up side, and two others, the Audi side. One tandem each, consisting of one start-up and one Audi group, had dealt with an imaginary innovation – with the goal of successfully introducing it at Audi. To generate the widest possible range of insights, we gave one tandem a software innovation and the other tandem a hardware innovation.
How did the workspaces go?
Each workspace was split into three sections of 30 minutes each. In the first slot, the groups were supposed to use ideation sheets to find out where the potential and problems lay in a joint project. In a second slot, the aim was to develop a model for collaboration. At the end, 20 minutes was left for free networking. In the workspaces there were Scribblers with tablets that immediately projected the ideas on large screens. More than half of the participants in the first workspace were founders. After that, the proportion of colleagues from the companies grew. And in each group we found some people with whom we could continue developing our process model in innovation management.
What sticking points emerged during the discussion?
Start-ups that do not have very many employees would like to have a central contact person on the industry side. And they are highly interested in access to our resources – to laboratories and test rigs. Just the evaluations for environmental standards quickly add up to tens of thousands of euros – that is a big strain for a start-up that we could take off their shoulders. Here I could imagine making our test rigs and test facilities available, when they are not being used, to select start-ups with whom we are cooperating.
And what is especially important for Audi?
The subject of exclusivity turned out to be an important factor for the Audi groups in the workshop. When you work together on a project and get the innovation ready jointly for series production, it is important to be able to use the innovation exclusively or to market it exclusively for at least a few months. In the collaboration as a whole, openness and transparency are absolutely crucial, in our view.
Aside from the workspaces, what was the most exciting learning experience for you at MQ!, Janina?
Technologically, I found the subject of hyperloop the most fascinating – if it already existed, I would get in immediately. But personally, I was most moved by the lecture of Fatima Bhutto. How she reported how many people in the world are still starving or do not even have access to sanitary facilities – that puts the prosperity in which we live in a completely different light. I have had the “Share the Meal” app that Ms. Bhutto promoted for some time now on my smartphone.
Coordinator of Purchasing Department and Innovation Management, AUDI AG
Janina Goldberg studied technology and management oriented business. Since 2011 she works for the Purchasing Department at Audi – and can tell us a lot about how agile and open-minded Audi is towards new ideas.
Buyer of Purchasing Department, AUDI AG
With a degree in Business Studies David Koegler brings a deep understanding of business models and their implementation to the Audi Purchasing Department. He gave valuable insights on Audi's cooperation with startups.
Co-founder and Member of the Board, AustrianStartups
Daniel Cronin is a passionate entrepreneur, lecturer, presenter and keynote speaker. He made his name in the start up scene and is considered as one of the leading experts and trainers on pitching. This expertise is what he shared with us.