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Schaeffler Receives Best Open Innovator Award

Excellent innovation management safeguards competitive edge

(PresseBox) (Berlin / Herzogenaurach, ) Schaeffler has received the Best Open Innovator Award 2011 from Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen in recognition of the best overall concept. The company deploys a wide range of Open Innovation tools and methods and has consistently integrated them in the innovation process in line with its corporate strategy. Dirk Spindler, whose responsibilities as Head of Corporate Development also include Schaeffler's Innovation Management, accepted the award at the 2nd Open Innovation Conference in Berlin. The prize was presented to him by Prof. Dr. Ellen Enkel, Head of the Dr. Manfred Bischoff Institute for Innovation Management of EADS at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen.

Open Innovation describes the integration of customers, suppliers, partners and service providers in product and process development. This strategy prescribes that external partners should be involved in the innovation process and entrusted with innovation tasks and issues in addition to in-house developers. These partners can include customers and suppliers, as well as universities and institutes, research groups and industry associations, and open calls, for example, via internet plat-forms, in order to give development tasks to the general public. The goal is to ex-pand the range of solutions for the company. This new innovation strategy has been devised to keep abreast with the rapidly changing demands from markets and customers.

High-caliber jury impressed by strategic implementation

The high-caliber jury, comprised of representatives from Deutsche Telekom, Henkel, Osram and Procter & Gamble in addition to Prof. Enkel, was impressed with just how systematic, strategic and deeply-rooted Open Innovation is being implemented at Schaeffler. In her speech announcing the winner, Prof. Enkel emphasized in par-ticular the wide range of Open Innovation methods used at Schaeffler. "Schaeffler has convinced the jury with its comprehensive, clearly structured overall Open Inno-vation concept. The company uses a great variety of tools and methods in a very professional manner. In other words, there is a clear concept of what method is best suited to solve a specific problem and will lead to the desired goal," Prof. Enkel said. In addition she pointed out that the corporate culture played a special role as an important breeding ground for cutting-edge innovations. Schaeffler also impressed the judges in this respect.

For Dirk Spindler, the Open Innovator Award is a special recognition of Schaeffler's Innovation Management that has been dealing with the various facets of Open Inno-vation for many years now. During this time, these aspects have been assimilated into a suitable overall concept to meet the demands of the company. "Schaeffler has once again proved that it is one of the most forward-thinking companies in Germany - especially with regard to its corporate culture that is so conducive to innovation. For a company that develops technologically demanding solutions for over 60 industrial sectors worldwide, Open Innovation is an excellent addition to the knowhow of the R&D departments and sector-oriented application engineering," Dirk Spindler points out. The close collaboration with customers and suppliers in product and technology development at Schaeffler has a long tradition in particular. Involving the customer early on ensures that products are developed in line with market requirements. Supplier companies in particular must understand customers and their end products in order to integrate their own contribution to the overall sys-tem in the best possible manner. "The better and the more precisely we know the requirements of our customers and their own customers, the earlier, more quickly and more precisely we can gear our development work to them. This is an important competitive edge - both for us and for our customers," Spindler pointed out.

Schaeffler AG

The Schaeffler Group with its three strong brands INA, LuK and FAG is a leading provider of rolling bearings and linear products as well as a renowned supplier to the automotive industry of high-precision products and systems for engines, transmissions and chassis applications. The group of companies stands for global customer proximity, innovative ability and the highest possible level of quality. Sales of €9.5 billion were generated at over 180 locations in more than 50 countries in 2010. With over 70,000 employees worldwide, the Schaeffler Group is one of the largest German and European industrial companies in family ownership.