Shanghai. January 31, 2013. With first projects successfully starting as startups, attention is now returning to Freudenberg’s global innovation campaign. But promoting the campaign among Freudenberg’s global workforce is vitally important for the program’s success. In China the campaign is being promoted via a wide range of events. In some cases, the first suggestions are received right after the presentation. “That is fitting proof of the innovative and entrepreneurial potential of our employees in China. Now we have started to promote the campaign locally, we are so excited to receive so many ideas from our Chinese colleagues”, says Roy Li, who leads the regional roll-out. “We have built a platform to unleash their creativity. We aim to collect many innovative ideas and, more importantly, to realize their business potential for the Chinese market.”
Counting on the proven creativity of its employees, the Freudenberg Group is looking for fresh ideas which can be turned into new business. The campaign also welcomes input from customers, business partners and outside experts. As Dr. Matthias Messer from the global New Business Development (NBD) at the New Technologies Business Group points out: “Since it was launched, the campaign has served as a greenhouse for cultivating new business ideas. We are now pressing forward with our efforts to further populate our greenhouse by capturing the innovative potential of our workforce all over the world. We want to motivate them even more to contribute their skills, knowledge and experience, and to apply their entrepreneurial spirit.”
In Germany, where the campaign started, it has generated a progressively larger number of new business ideas. Each one goes through a multi-stage evaluation process. Promising business ideas on the edge of or outside the focus of Freudenberg’s Business Group activities are identified and implemented using a new business development process at Freudenberg New Technologies. Clearing each of the gates in the new business development process carries a monetary bonus for the idea generator. In addition, he or she has the opportunity to be actively involved in its implementation and, for many employees, this is the most significant advantage of this program.
“It is simple. If the timing is right for a business idea that sounds promising and a good fit to our corporate strategy, we will act on it. If an idea does not meet current market interests, we retain it in an idea pool until the time is ‘ripe’ for this technology, service or product”, says Messer. Those ideas that clearly relate to one of the sixteen Freudenberg Business Groups are further developed within the scope of their R&D process.
“What makes this campaign unique is the ease of submitting ideas”, adds Messer. “All anyone has to do is communicate an idea to a local program `scout´ or to us in any format – through a conversation, on a piece of paper, or with a full business plan. It’s the idea that counts.” Of course, the better the business idea is and the more challenging the problem it seeks to solve, the greater the chances of success. Freudenberg subsequently offers each associate the unique opportunity to realize an innovative and successful startup from their idea. Moreover, the NBD team is there to develop ideas further.
One of the business ideas that has reached the startup stage is “scaffolene”, a biodegradable medical nonwoven manufactured using an innovative spinning technology. “It all started with an idea to make nonwoven material out of gelatin, just like the famous gummy bears, so it can be absorbed by the human body”, says Li, who leads the regional roll-out in China with various measures to stimulate and encourage new business ideas – including “hotspot” meetings, on-site “roadshow” presentations as well as a Chinese New Year lucky draw. The roadshow activities in particular are organized as fun events and engage in a dialog with colleagues at company sites such as works canteens.
With the global idea competition, called the “ideaTrophy”, the Group wants to emphasize to all Freudenberg associates worldwide the unique opportunity for realizing the successful startup of an innovative business from their idea. Of course, this requires a brilliant idea which can be turned into profitable business. But the history of the company, as well as the history of new business development, testifies to the opportunities. Furthermore, there is a chance to win attractive prizes and Freudenberg-wide recognition – all just one idea away!