Helping cities work better with cutting-edge R&D

Life at Siemens

Meet the team letting their digital imaginations roam free in the pursuit of innovative ideas

As part of Siemens China, the Corporate Technology unit is where tomorrow’s technological innovations and cutting-edge products are born. Duan Xu explains why his team is more than just a traditional R&D department

Carrying out project development and building product prototypes requires a highly skilled team of technical experts. After all, the solutions they come up with today might well end up being a product tomorrow.

Duan Xu is one of these technical experts.

“We believe that our digital products speak louder than words. I think this is why our unit stands out in the industry,” says Duan, who thrives on letting his digital imagination roam free in the pursuit of innovative ideas.

“We are not a research and development team in the traditional sense,” he says, “we complete demand analysis and market research, then develop and test our targeted solutions. Then, after some basic prototyping, we explore the commercial value of our idea.”

While Corporate Technology plays a key part in the overall operation of Siemens China, it also has a high degree of autonomy. Duan says that, far from being a corporate unit, the atmosphere is similar to that of a small start-up. “Compared with other business units,” he says, “we have a high degree of flexibility and originality.”

Digital imaginations run free

This small start-up mentality is harnessed in order to realize some pretty big ambitions. The team is currently designing and implementing the Connected City Solutions (CSS), a project that aims to revolutionize the efficiency of cities by dealing with problems stemming from mass urbanization, such as smog and housing shortages, as well as tackling China’s urban traffic and population density with the introduction of intelligent infrastructure.

Duan says that future-gazing is part of his team’s DNA. They enjoy having the freedom to explore and experiment. “This job makes people feel excited. We are essentially a R&D team, but we have financial support. It’s rare to find a company willing to give you money to let you use your creativity to develop something that might or might not become a product in the future. Of course, there are also challenges, and that’s mostly around how we can put these raw ideas into products with brilliant commercial value.”

Compared with other business units we have a high degree of flexibility and originality
Duan Xu

From local to global

The team might be focused on finding out if a solution has sufficient commercial value in China, but frequently their local innovations are adapted by international teams – including Duan’s counterparts in Germany and America.

In fact, the international Corporate Technology teams don’t just actively share their findings. Field experts from different teams are invited to come and work with them on specific projects. For example, an image specialist from Germany is currently carrying out research and development with Duan and the rest of the China team. As a result, their work on urban issues might go on to have implications for cities around the world.

Growing up with Siemens

“I’ve learned a lot at Siemens,” says Duan, “I told my colleagues that I’ve learned more here in seven months than I did in seven years anywhere else.” He believes this is thanks to the way the team is given plenty of room for experimentation. As the global company continues to embrace digitization, he hopes to play a part in changing public perceptions of Siemens in the future, from veteran manufacturing company to a place that’s leading the way when it comes to tomorrow’s digital and technological innovations.

“One day, an original idea we come up with could be stamped with a Siemens logo and become a worldwide product. The sense of freedom is truly great!”

Duan Xu graduated from Nankai University before going on to complete his masters at Edinburgh University, where he majored in Communication Engineering. Duan joined Siemens two years ago, and since then has played a pivotal role in Corporate Technology.


Duan is a Future Maker— one of the 377,000 talented people working with us to shape the future.

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