For the first time Freudenberg has launched a global idea competition for external applicants. Technology providers, research institutes, start-ups and other market experts are called upon to submit their ideas to the 2013 international "ideaTrophy" together with Freudenberg's 37,000 associates. "The constant search for innovations spurs our associates on and forms the basis of our company's long-term and sustainable success," explains Dr. Joerg Matthias Großmann, Regional Representative for the Freudenberg Group in India. "Through our long-term commitment in India, we know that people are very creative and innovative here. I'm sure we will receive many great suggestions for the global ideaTrophy." Ideas in the seven fields of renewable energy, water purification, medical devices and technology, renewable resources, solvent-free surface coatings, sealing solutions for the oil and gas industry, vibration control in railway and general industry can be submitted to the Freudenberg "IdeaTrophy" website www.ideatrophy-freudenberg.com before October 28, 2013. In addition to monetary prizes, there is also the possibility of seeing the idea turned into a successful start-up.
Innovations will be one of the main driving forces for the success of Freudenberg in the future. World-wide, more than 2,200 associates are employed in research and development with India lending significant momentum to innovation. Freudenberg operates three research facilities in Mysore, Pune and Mohali, where innovative products for the Indian and South-East Asian / Pacific Region are developed and tested. Commitment to innovation in India is to be intensified even more in the future. The global ideaTrophy is a new approach, to involve external applicants from India into this process.
In the past, only Freudenberg Group associates were able to submit ideas to the competition and have the opportunity of turning their ideas into successful start-ups. The tender process now open to external applicants is based on the seven fields identified by the Freudenberg Group as growth areas. "The competition should strengthen the Freudenberg Group's innovation culture on the one hand. And on the other hand we want to promote new business development projects in those fields where we see growth potential, using knowledge from external ideas," says Dr. Matthias Messer, who is responsible for the "ideaTrophy."
The growth fields focus on the following issues:
- Renewable energies: Components for electrical or electro-chemical energy storage, electricity generation from renewable energies and e-mobility.
- Water: More efficient water purification by means of membrane and micro-filter technology as well as water-saving technologies.
- Health: Components for medical-technology equipment, products and applications.
- Renewable raw materials: The use of renewable raw materials at Freudenberg and alternative raw materials to produce new sustainable products.
- Solvent-free surface coatings: Surface treatments, in particular water-based (solvent-free) polyurethane coatings for textiles, technical textiles, synthetic leather, flame-retardant textiles etc.
- Oil and gas: Innovative sealing solutions and vibration control technology for the upstream segment as well as high temperature thermoplastics / elastomers.
- Rail and vibration control technology for general industry: Components for rail technology and new business for vibration control technology in the general industry segment (e.g. wind energy, agricultural and construction machinery, building technology etc).
"Applicants can submit just a few descriptive sentences, a well-thought out business plan or even detailed ideas for a start-up company. It's the idea that counts," explains Messer. "The ideas must, however, be relevant to Freudenberg's strategic growth fields." Criteria to evaluate the ideas include customer benefit and ease of technical implementation, but the "maturity" of the idea is also taken into account. Within the scope of the international competition, the winning prizes receive a financial reward of about 80.000 INR. per field; the total prize is worth more than 150.000 INR. And the world-wide-web community can also vote for a prize of about 80.000 INR.
The jury consists of representatives of top management at Freudenberg as well as experts in the search fields. The closing date for submission is October 28. The winners will be announced in November and will receive a prize from the Board of Management of the Freudenberg Group. Information about the competition can be found online at www.ideatrophy-freudenberg.com.
Success with innovation
Innovation is the corner stone of the Freudenberg Group's success. Leather seals resulting in the manufacture of the famous Simmerring played an important role in the development of the company from its origins as a tannery in 1849 to one of the most important global suppliers of general industry and the automotive market. When leather was in short supply in the 1920s, Freudenberg continued with its research and developed artificial leather on the basis of nonwovens. It was soon recognized that nonwovens served as excellent interlinings for the clothing industry. Freudenberg continued tirelessly with its research until the birth of a successful brand - the " vileda" nonwoven cleaning cloth that cleans like leather. Extensive research also led to the discovery that nonwovens could be used in filter manufacture. These are just a few of the examples that demonstrate the innovative strength and diversification of the Freudenberg Group and its associates.
More than 3.500 of these associates are located in India, one of Freudenberg's most important growth markets. Freudenberg has held business ties with customers and partners in India since the 1920's, when it started importing raw materials from the Asian subcontinent. The group cooperates with various universities and research institutes such as the Indian Institute for Management in Bangalore. Having the most qualified employees on board is an important factor for sustainable growth and innovative strength. This strategy has already paid off: A young associate at Freudenberg Filtration Technologies in Pune brought up the idea of eee.Sy – an innovative turnkey system for filtering and cooling inlet air to improve the output of gas turbines, engines and compressors in hot and humid climates. Even under current climate conditions, this applies to a big part of the world's entire land mass. Since the system uses waste heat generated by the plant to enable increased output, eee.Sy was well received by customers all over the world. eee.Sy, an entirely unique, patented concept, stands for "Energy Efficiency Enhancement System".
One of the most recent successful projects started with an associate's idea to buy a candy floss machine for 30 Euros. The intention was that the machine should help to establish how gelatin can be manufactured from nonwovens. Sugar, like gelatin, is a thermally sensitive material. With the help of a candy floss machine it can be transformed into fiber. In the meantime the idea has led to the development of a marketable product: "scaffolene" – a highly innovative medical and bioresorbable nonwoven that Freudenberg manufactures using a technically-advanced spinning process. "The product demonstrates how much associates can achieve with their ideas," explains Dr. Matthias Messer. "Scaffolene is now in mass production at a modern manufacturing plant. The next step is to achieve clinical certification for our customers."