Fostering tomorrow’s innovations
Next47 is an independent global venture firm committed to turning today's impossible ideas into tomorrow's indispensable industries. Our relationship with Siemens gives us access to international markets, a global customer base, and incomparable technical experience, all of which we use to catalyze our portfolio companies’ growth. We invest in entrepreneurs who think big and in companies that we believe will change the way the world lives and works.
Assuming leading roles in technologyBe it the efficient distribution and utilization of energy, the development of autonomous, artificially intelligent systems in manufacturing, or the use of digitalization in infrastructure – we are taking firm positions along the electrification value chain and facing the digital era head on.
We have occupied leading positions in fields with long-term growth prospects by cultivating our employees' innovative excellence and aligning our technological expertise with clearly defined focus areas.
Our R&D activities are geared toward developing cutting-edge and sustainable customer solutions. They are focused, among others, on the following fields:
- The stability of power grids. For example, we are advancing power electronics for grid applications, and developing economically viable large energy-storage units
- Distributed energy systems. Combining on-site generation with local consumption provides secure power supply at a reduced cost.
- Novel Innovative materials. One example is the use of materials that enable higher generation efficiency and fewer losses in power transmission and distribution.
- Additive manufacturing. A key innovation driver is 3D printing, especially when embedded in an integrated, digital tool chain.
- Automation technologies. Our R&D activities aim to reduce engineering efforts, enhance flexibility and increase our customers’ productivity.
- Connected (e)mobility. The world continues to become increasingly electrified and connected. We are working on the digitally supported integration and management of multi-modal transportation systems as well as on universal electric charging.
- Electrically powered flight. In cooperation with Airbus and Rolls Royce, we intend to demonstrate that electricity can be used to power large planes by 2020.
- Data analytics and artificial intelligence. We strive to generate value and real-world impact from the growing amount of data generated in the field.
- Modeling and simulation technologies. A digital twin of physical products, systems and infrastructures enables virtual testing, commissioning and operation of a system prior to building it.
- Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The connectivity of field devices has given rise to IIoT and hence to massively distributed industrial systems. MindSphere is our open, cloud-based operating system for this IIoT.
- Blockchain technology. Our engineers are currently testing blockchain for use in various applications, such as for energy trading in microgrids.
- Industrial cybersecurity. We help our customers take advantage of technology advances while simultaneously minimizing exposure to risk.
Our R&D activities are carried out by cross-functional teams involving both our businesses and our Corporate Technology (CT) R&D department. We also work closely with academic partners from leading universities and research institutions. These partnerships, along with close collaborations with start-up companies and the use of crowd innovation methods, are an important part of Siemens’ open innovation concept.
Driving forward digitalizationDigitalization is changing our economy and our society. Companies like Siemens that embrace these changes and use digital technologies to build new business models have every chance of emerging even stronger, while creating significant benefits for society.
Data has clearly become the global economy’s most important “raw material” – and, unlike other raw materials, it is constantly increasing in volume. According to the analysts at the International Data Corporation, the volume of digital data stored worldwide is set to grow tenfold between 2013 and 2020.
By connecting the physical and virtual worlds, we are shaping the process of digitalization. We deploy digital technologies for our industrial base to enhance customer benefit. From today’s standpoint, we expect to see long-term market growth of eight percent for our software solutions and digital services. Beyond that, we need to continue upgrading and digitally enhancing our traditional portfolio – with products and systems for electrification and automation – to ensure that it remains competitive.
Digitalization across all businesses
Siemens is unlocking the potential of digitalization to improve the entire lifecycle of products and systems. With services such as predictive maintenance for example, we minimize service-related downtimes. With this approach, an availability of over 99 percent was achieved for the Madrid-Barcelona train connection, enabling operators to impress passengers with outstanding and guaranteed punctuality.
Turbines: Digital transformation encompasses all businesses, from power plant technology to electrification and automation, from self-learning programs to self-diagnostics and condition-based maintenance. Gas turbines, in which hundreds of sensors measure temperatures, pressures, flows and gas compositions, are a good example. By plugging sensor data into intelligent, self-learning algorithms, we can fine-tune the control policy of turbines to operate them more efficiently and with fewer emissions. This is true added value, and goes beyond what even the best power engineers can achieve with conventional means.
PLM software: The power of digitalization is most apparent in Siemens' Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software, which already enables more than 170,000 customers worldwide to efficiently and cost-effectively manage information for the entire lifecycle of a product. PLM can be regarded as both an information tool and a corporate strategy. As an information tool, it provides a coherent data structure by consolidating systems. As a corporate strategy, it enables companies operating globally to develop, manufacture and launch products as a team while documenting best practices and knowledge gained. This means that processes are not only depicted digitally, but that digitalization is what makes them possible in the first place. The consistent digital thread of knowledge becomes the primary driver for business.
We are also working intensively on other technologies. These include cloud computing – which makes it possible to implement products and services faster, more cost-efficiently and at lower risk – and the Internet of Things in the context of industrial applications. As our products are often deployed in critical infrastructures, IT security is a high priority at Siemens.
With Mindsphere, Siemens interlinks physical products and infrastructures with digital data. As an example, this makes it possible to bring products to market more quickly and more efficiently, and with better quality. Designed as an open IoT operating system, MindSphere combines device management, plug-&-play connectivity, data storage, and a corresponding infrastructure to perform virtualized data management that can be deployed in the shortest time. Mechanical and plant engineers can use it to monitor machine fleets spread across the world – for service purposes, to reduce downtime, and to develop new business models.
It allows our customers and partners to develop and deploy applications and digital services based on data gathered from a product, from the production line or in the field. With it, companies can predict equipment failure, increase asset availability, improve product designs and increase product or plant performances. MindSphere also is the starting point for data-based services from Siemens. In short, it is an important building block for Siemens' aspiration to become the leading company in digitalization.
MindSphere Application Centers
Our number one goal is to ensure that digital technologies from Siemens create value for our customers. For that reason, Siemens operates MindSphere Application Centers at locations worldwide. Each MindSphere Application Center is dedicated to a certain vertical market, for example railways, buildings, cities or airports. The experts in the MindSphere Application Centers create market-specific digital offerings together with our customers, making use our extensive portfolio of software and platforms as well as our deep domain know-how to address the customers’ pain points. This is value co-creation at its best.
The MindSphere Application Centers also serve as a forum for Siemens to make digitalization more tangible – they’re a place where Siemens and its customers can talk to and learn from one another.
To answer this question, we systematically analyze trends that will have a medium- and long-term impact on our business activities. In doing so, we think beyond the boundaries of our company and examine promising fields of business not yet covered by our current portfolio.
Researching future trends
When researching future trends, we combine two powerful tools that can forecast future customer demand. These are extrapolation (i.e. projecting our current technologies and product families into the future) and, in parallel, retropolation (i.e. creating a vision of the future and using it to derive the tasks and problems we need to tackle today to achieve that vision). Frequently, an examination of a trend will lead to the conclusion that an entire industrial segment could be revolutionized – a process that is known as “disruption.” This knowledge helps Siemens prepare for transformational changes well in advance.
Corporate Technology, the company’s central research and development department, ensures that this systematic approach is the hallmark of the entire innovation process at Siemens. Corporate Technology develops not only new fields of innovation, but also the related prototypes for later transition to the Business Units. There, these prototypes are tailored to future market require-ments and to provide Siemens customers with the technological toolkit they need to design new products and innovative services.
In view of ever faster innovation cycles, a step-by-step approach from idea-to-market is no longer adequate. Innovation is best achieved with fast prototyping, early market tests and rapid iterations in order to deliver a product or service that meets customers’ needs. For this reason, Siemens makes significant efforts to achieve world-class-excellence in modern R&D approaches.
Ultimately, however, our innovation power depends on the ingenuity of our employees and our ability to put good ideas into practice in a quick and pragmatic manner. A number of internal forums and platforms offer our employees the opportunity to propose innovative ideas and apply for funding and implementation support. For instance, our Quickstarter platform uses an internal crowdfunding approach to collect and evaluate ideas without the need for management reviews and decisions.
The words 'I will' have great magical power when they're seriously meant and backed by energy and resolve! Of course, you can't shy away from obstacles and detours and can't lose sight of your goal for a moment!Werner von Siemens to his wife, Mathilde, 1854
We invite every Siemens employee to remain open to new ideas; to learn to recognize the changes that are important for our customers and our own future; and to have the courage to implement the necessary changes without any ifs, ands or buts.