© Deutsches Institut für Erfindungswesen e. V.

Lifetime Contributions to “Best Promotion of Innovation”

Professor Johann Löhn and Steinbeis Foundation honored with the Rudolf-Diesel-Medaille

On May 5, 2021, Germany’s oldest innovation award, the Rudolf-Diesel-Medaille, was presented in four categories. This year, the award for Best Promotion of Innovation went to Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Johann Löhn and what is now the Steinbeis Foundation, which he was responsible for establishing. Since 1983, the foundation has made significant contributions to the promotion of innovation.


It felt like a nice coincidence that the bestowal of the 2020/2021 Rudolf-Diesel-Medaille – in acknowledgement of Johann Löhn’s lifetime achievements – should take place on the 214th birthday of the man to whom the foundation owes its name: Ferdinand von Steinbeis. The Honorary Trustee of the Steinbeis Foundation accepted the award for Best Promotion of Innovation during a virtual online ceremony. Praising his contributions, Armin Olbrich, journalist and head of the Learning and Knowledge Lab editorial team at BR ARD, offered some particularly appreciative words: “A close and long-standing comrade-in-arms describes him this way: ‘Johann Löhn has true grit – not just as an authority in methodical skills, not just as an entrepreneur, but also in terms of being a totally human human-being.’ Apparently, Johann Löhn does this by always focusing on the goal – and sticking with it.” In celebrating his achievements, Olbrich also paid particular tribute to the Steinbeis Network, which has seen the foundation of more than 2,000 enterprises since 1983 and currently includes more than 1,100 enterprises.

The key to success: the concept, the people, and the goal

In his acceptance speech, Johann Löhn thanked the presenters at the event, Dr. Heiner Pollert, first chairperson of the German Institute of Invention, and Prof. Dr. Alexander J. Wurzer, spokesperson of the Rudolf Diesel Board of Trustees, referring once again to the crux of his success: “You need a coherent concept, you need the people to learn the routines, then you need to pursue the goal. Then there’s nothing you can do to prevent success.” This was also a reference to the final sentence of the laudatory speech made by Armin Olbrich: “Nothing succeeds like success!”

Award-winning innovations

The winners in the other categories are Harald Lesch (Best Media Communication for Terra X Lesch & Co), Roland Arnold of PARAVAN (Most Sustainable Innovation), and Ortwin Goldbeck of GOLDBECK (Most Successful Innovation).

Germany’s oldest innovation award, the Rudolf-Diesel-Medaille has been bestowed since 1953 in recognition of entrepreneurial contributions to innovation that deliver economic success. For more information (in German only), go to rudolf-diesel-medaille.de.


Steinbeis Headquarters (Stuttgart)