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This 177 year old start-up is looking to the next generation to drive innovation

Dr Annika Hauptvogel, head of technology and innovation management at Siemens on The Big Question
Dr Annika Hauptvogel, head of technology and innovation management at Siemens on The Big Question Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Hannah Brown
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“We cannot solve this on our own” : As the world faces increasing challenges, Siemens tells Euronews’ Hannah Brown on The Big Question how it is looking to start-ups to stay ahead with innovation.

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“I think we have been one of the first Start-Ups ever."

“There weren't any garages at that time, but if there was, I think we would have started the Siemen's business in a garage,” Dr Annika Hauptvogel told The Big Question.

Siemens is now a household name. Founded in 1847, the company built the first long-distance telegraph line in Europe - since then, they’ve innovated and transformed to become an industry giant, producing fridges, mobile phones, medical instruments, trains and rail infrastructure, wind turbines and energy infrastructure and industrial automation. 

Despite being over 170 years old, Siemens is now partnering with start-ups in order to stay ahead in the game. But with so many resources at their fingertips, what’s in it for them?

In this episode of The Big Question, Hannah Brown sits down with Dr. Annika Hauptvogel, Head of Technology and Innovation Management at Siemens to discuss their approach to driving innovation.

What is the best way to drive innovation?

“Innovation cycles have become shorter and shorter, and we have to be faster and faster. 

“And you can't be that fast if you’re just in your own bubble,” Annika explained. 

Annika believes that working with start-ups helps to bring in new ideas. 

Through their Siemens for Start-Ups programme, they supply free software to get ideas off the ground and then test the products internally at Siemens. Once a product is successful and working well, they then connect them to their external clients to take the product to market.

“If we talk about sustainability, Siemens, we cannot solve it on our own, right? So the important aspect is how can we connect the right players in this ecosystem?” 

“I think it's important to be the customer zero to first of all try things out. And if the quality is good, if we see that it's really an application and it helps us, then we should take it to our customers and not the other way around,” she added. 

When asked if, while fulfilling their aim to innovate, they ever have any fear that they’re fuelling their future competitors, Annika was very confident in their approach.  

“Sometimes maybe in other fields, you are competitors and in another field, you are a great partner. So I think, we should rather focus on the challenge we face and how we can solve it rather than thinking about ‘is this a competitor or not’, but rather solving a problem.”

How can AI help drive industrial innovation?

In order to reduce the environmental impact of innovation, Siemens is a great supporter of the industrial metaverse.

This means creating a digital twin of anything you’re developing and using AI simulations to assess changes and optimise functionality. Only once something is running perfectly in the metaverse is it then built. 

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“And with that of course, you use less materials because you don't have to create, build, manufacture those prototypes. And with that, we can now reduce 50% of the material just by trying it out in this design. 

“Besides that, of course, when you design a product, you can also think about different designs. But when you apply AI to this process, AI will find new designs that we never ever would have thought about. 

“AI can design, for example, lighter products. And with that, again, you reduce material, you reduce the CO2 footprint.”

Dr Annika Hauptvogel sat down with The Big Questions' Hannah Brown in Paris.
Dr Annika Hauptvogel sat down with The Big Questions' Hannah Brown in Paris.Euronews

Annika particularly mentioned a start-up named RIIICO from Aachen, Germany, that Siemens teamed up with to map out their factories in order to create digital twins.

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“So we had two existing factories, and we wanted to bring them together in one new factory, and we made the design of this new factory completely virtual. 

“They could already optimise the processes in the design phase and not when it's built, so you have fewer failures when you actually build them. 

“Now comparing the old factories with this new one we saw that the productivity increased by 20%,” Annika added.

The Big Questionis a series from Euronews Business where we sit down with industry leaders and experts to discuss some of the most important topics on today’s agenda.

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Watch the video above to see the full interview with Siemens.

Journalist • Hannah Brown

Video editor • Joanna Adhem

Additional sources • Additional editing by Nicolas Coquet

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