The SME sector has written an impressive history of innovation and entrepreneurship in Germany, with many global market leaders and hidden champions coming from this segment of the economy.. But innovation is not just about developing revolutionary technology. It can equally involve optimizing existing processes, opening up new markets, or developing innovative business models. One of the aims of the networks of stakeholders, institutions, and resources that are engaged in innovation systems is to foster and promote corresponding innovations.
In a networked world that is subject to constant change and due to the convergence of technologies with digital solutions, it is crucial that SMEs actively participate in and help shape innovation systems as the backbone of our economy. Yet many small and medium-sized enterprises are particularly challenged when it comes to driving innovation. They often lack the know-how and qualified and talented employes when it comes to emerging technology, or the financial resources it takes to handle large projects and investments. So what is the best way to successfully develop and implement innovations?
From my experience, the key factors I see in this are being able to spot technology trends early and establishing trusting alliances with partners who bring complementary know-how to the table, whether from business or science. However, politics is also called upon to set forward-looking framework conditions through funding programs– both for R&D projects and for investments in future technology.
In our work for SME clients at the Steinbeis Consulting Centre Technological Transformation, we combine our knowledge of cross-industry technology trends with the ability to identify suitable development partners. We see ourselves as a link between companies, technology partners, and research, doing everything we can to ensure that this combination results in co-operations that lead to successful innovations.
The future belongs to those who rise to the challenges of the rapidly changing technological environment. Many SMEs have proven that they are capable of doing so. Let’s join forces and work together in continuing to support and shape the innovative capabilities of SMEs.
The articles in this issue of Transfer Magazine examine innovation systems from a variety of perspectives, offering ideas and inspiration for putting innovation into practice. I wish you an exciting read!
With kind regards,
Dr. Philipp Liedl (author)
Dr. Philipp Liedl is responsible for the Steinbeis Consulting Centre Technological Transformation and offers companies targeted, practical technology consulting for sustainable business success. As a physicist and innovation expert, he has more than 20 years of experience working on technology consulting projects, in the field of innovation and R&D for trade and industry, with a focus on digital transformation, Industry 4.0 (smart production), data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI).