Nabaltec AG: Nabaltec honoured as a top innovator

Lothar Späth awards the "Top 100" seal of approval to chemicals firm for its outstanding innovations management

(PresseBox) ( Schwandorf, )
It's official: Nabaltec AG is one of the 100 most innovative small and medium-sized companies in Germany. So say the results of this year's "Top 100" corporate benchmarking competition - a cross-sectoral business initiative covering the entire country. One key element of the firm's success in this, the 17th year of the renowned contest, was its finely-tuned innovations management. Lothar Späth, former state premier of Baden-Württemberg, presented the prestigious "Top 100" seal of approval to Gerhard Witzany, member of the Management Board, at an official ceremony in Königswinter's "Gästehaus Petersberg" on Friday, 26 June 2009.

As patron of the SME initiative, he has recognized this Bavarian company's achievements in the five key categories of "Innovation-friendly Senior Management", "Climate of Innovation", "Innovative Processes and Organisation", "Innovations Marketing" and "Successful Innovations". This is the fourth time that Nabaltec has been among Germany's top 100 most innovative SMEs.

Nabaltec AG produces mineral-based flame retardants for the cable and plastics industries and, with a workforce of 347, it generated revenue of €96 million in 2008. It no longer makes the classic distinction between sales and development and manages its customer relationships holistically, which means that right from the start the marketing function is integrated into the innovation process for new developments - which definitely scores points in the "Top 100" competition. To achieve this, Nabaltec trains its technicians in specific aspects of marketing. Following customer meetings, technical sales staff go straight into the lab where they and their colleagues develop customised products, thus forming a structured link between R&D, production and the market. At Nabaltec a similar approach is taken when constructing new production machinery, with a series of lab tests following the initial idea for an innovation. If the tests are successful, a pilot machine is created and selected customers carry out a beta test to evaluate it. If they give it the thumbs up, a commercial-scale trial at a reference customer follows.

To qualify for the award, Nabaltec had to undergo a stringent, two-stage process devised by the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. "Our results show that the 100 top innovators generally tackle challenges head on and are thus well-equipped to deal with the current economic situation, for example. Innovation is a matter of priority at management level for most of these companies," commented Professor Nikolaus Franke, head of the research team, on the analysis. In the past three years, these award-winners generated two thirds of their revenue from innovations and innovative improvements, compared with 30 per cent in a sample of similarly-structured German SMEs. In addition, Top 100 firms were able to shave some 12 per cent off their costs through process innovations, compared with a paltry 4 per cent on the part of "average SMEs". As a result, this year's "Top 100" contains 54 German market leaders, 22 of which are global leaders in their field. Gerhard Witzany, member of the Management Board, is jubilant about the firm's success: "We are now officially classed among the most formidable innovators in the German SME sector. This is a great boost to our credibility and will inspire our employees, partners and, of course, our customers with confidence. We could scarcely have hoped for better news in these times of crisis." Overall, 319 companies entered the "Top 100" competition this year.

All of the 100 top innovators are featured in the book "Top 100 - the 100 most innovative companies in Germany's SME sector" edited by Lothar Späth, and featured on the website The project is organised by compamedia GmbH, Überlingen, Germany. Companies interested in entering the competition can apply as of now via the website. The deadline for entries is 30 October 2009.

Mentor and partners

The project's patron is Lothar Späth. Partners in the project are: Bayern Innovativ GmbH, the Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research, the German Centre for Productivity and Innovation (RKW), the Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE) and the Association of German Engineers (VDI). Its media partner is the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Project management

The project is coordinated by Dr Nikolaus Franke, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. The focus of his research is on entrepreneurship, innovation management and marketing. He is one of the world's leading experts in user innovation.

Organiser: compamedia GmbH

compamedia specialises in organising benchmarking projects and creating networks for small and medium-sized enterprises. The agency concentrates on promoting its projects in the media, leaving technical implementation to its specialist partners. In addition to the Top 100 innovation project, compamedia coordinates two other prestigious projects that highlight the achievements of Germany's SME sector: the Top Job employer benchmarking competition under the mentorship of Wolfgang Clement and Ethics in Business with Ulrich Wickert as patron.
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