A look back at a kick-off Steinbeis event at the State Gallery in Stuttgart
With its high columns, the room chosen at the State Gallery in Stuttgart could not have been a better setting for the first staging of the new Steinbeis initiative, which goes by the name “The Other View on Innovating.” Every seat at the event was occupied. The two initiators of the event, Dr. Petra Püchner and Beate Wittkopp, demonstrated many ways to dare to be different. This was not only reinforced by their recent book, which was brought out to coincide with the event, but also by its authors and the audience in the interactive discussion groups.
“The Other View on Innovating. Women in Technology Transfer” was jointly written by 17 women from the Steinbeis Network and the Steinbeis Board of Trustees, who shared their insights and expertise on the innovation processes of technology transfer. The topics dealt with in the book reflect the breadth of know-how offered by women in the Steinbeis Network, from technological fields like new materials, material recycling, resource management, and electric vehicles, to issues such as entrepreneurship, innovation processes, company cultures, and the digitalization challenges faced by companies. The book was published by Steinbeis-Edition to coincide with the initiative started by Steinbeis.
The editors developed a special new format for the event called a Fish Bowl Quartet. A topical, lively, and varied discussion arose in the antique Column Hall at the State Gallery, with plenty of differing angles not only on innovation, but also on the actual opportunities and approaches of women in technology transfer. “We need new processes in knowledge- sharing. Innovations shouldn’t be looked at from a research angle but from the standpoint of application and societal significance. Of course that also means the needs and user behavior of women also play a role. If we involve that more closely in the innovation process, we’ll have a broader spectrum of innovations to show for it in the future,” highlighted Dr. Petra Puchner (Steinbeis 2i). The event was not without its controversial moments, also looking at skills and responsibilities and how relevant these are in the everyday tasks of innovation projects, as well as the impacts and opportunities of digital transformation. Beate Wittkopp (Steinbeis Transfer Centre TransferWorks BW): “The interfaces are becoming more and more important and things are moving faster, reinforced by digital transformation and the increasing level of convergence between industries. The gaps in between thrive on a strong culture of lateral thinking. It’s exactly here that the traditional borders between specialist fields and organizations have to be crossed – people have to be open to ‘inter-action’ with new kinds of people, functions, qualifications, skills, and cultures.” Drawing on their experiences and expertise, the participants in the discussion offered many different opinions and engaged in a sometimes critical discussion of the differences. As a result, one of the key areas of output of the kick-off event soon emerged: More needs to be done to highlight the skills and working methods of women in the Steinbeis Network, plus the role played by different perspectives. As everyone in the group agreed, the diversity this would foster is a valuable factor in innovation and combined with the people from the network, this would generate added value.
Even before the day, the editors received feedback on the publication and the event, and this was highly motivating – and all the more so after the feedback from the participants at the kick-off event. The new book is available through normal outlets and Steinbeis-Edition. It deliberately catches the eye, using colors to signal the way women see themselves as key players in innovation.
The aim of the publication is to provide initial insights into the diversity of skills offered by women in the Steinbeis Network, although it is just one of the many windows to the house of Steinbeis. Many other areas of expertise are represented by women in the Steinbeis Network, and these should be made more visible and lead to other networking opportunities. Building on the ideas that emerged at the event, the initiators plan as a next step to join forces with any other women at Steinbeis who may be interested in setting up a competence platform, and thus provide ways to exchange ideas and collaborate on new business models.