Visit to the Group IT Ideation Hub
Tracking ideas on new mobility, Industry 4.0 and the work of the future
Is this a good idea? Does it have prospects of being implemented in practice? These are questions that are being asked in the “Denk:Raum” (‘thinking room’) of the Volkswagen Ideation Hub in Wolfsburg. Dr. Jennifer Sarah Geffers and her team are focusing their attention on an app programmed by a few creative minds of a startup. Does their concept make sense? Is there any demand? Are there better solutions? Following intensive discussions, the team agrees. The pilot project can be implemented within the company following a second, more detailed presentation. The major industrial group Volkswagen and the young startups are cooperating. It’s as easy as that. The Volkswagen Group IT Ideation Hub makes it possible.
At the Ideation Hub, experts from a variety of disciplines including economists and social scientists, engineers, computer scientists and marketing or design specialists work together in brightly lit open-plan offices with work islands and strategy boards scattered through them. Here, Geffers (39), who holds a doctorate in economics, and her team explore ideas for the digital future of the Volkswagen Group. And that is not all. If they identify an idea in the startup environment, they provide support for the entrepreneurs through to the implementtation of the pilot project within the Group. The main focus is on the topics of new mobility, Industry 4.0 and the work of the future. The Ideation Hub concentrate especially on international startups.
“We identify ideas and develop them together with the startup and the responsible specialist department to form a pilot project. We are the door-opener to the Volkswagen Group for startups.”
This is how the Ideation Hub works
fast & pragmatically
In order to make progress with the digital transformation, Volkswagen not only deploys in-house know but has also been committed to cooperation with startups for some time. The young companies provide key impetus, are early trend-setters and enjoy experimentation. Geffers: “Startups work fast and pragmatically. This is an advantage, but it also makes it difficult for them to develop business relations with major companies with high security and quality standards. At the Ideation Hub, we are working hard to combine the best of both worlds.”
flexibly & transparently
Like the six IT labs now operated by the Group, the Volkswagen Group IT Ideation Hub is a flexible department set apart from the Group’s line organization. In the Ideation Hub, startups find a partner that works just as pragmatically as they do. For example, the Hub is working on making typical corporate processes that startups need to complete more transparent and simpler. The Ideation Hub addresses the startups directly and operates a branch in Berlin specifically for this purpose. The startup environment in the city is among the largest and most dynamic in Europe. In addition, team members attend European start-up conferences, organize their own startup events and are in close contact with Tel Aviv, Silicon Valley and Beijing via the Group network.
critically & constructively
“We do not want to overlook any startup with a good idea – but not every idea can make a breakthrough. We support startups with our know-how, but the idea itself must also be viable,” Geffers explains. The Ideation Hub stands behind company founders, establishes contacts with expert partners within the Group and initiates business with units which are interested throughout the Group. Geffers: “We start direct discussions with potential users of the products and services within our company. We ask them about requirements, interests and trends.”
In the final resort, this may lead to a pilot project for a specialist department. It is also possible that the Hub may arrange for a project to be transferred to Volkswagen’s Startup Incubator at the Transparent Factory in Dresden, where young entrepreneurs can continue to develop their ideas. If a promising pilot project has already reached an advanced stage, the Ideation Hub can also start the ball rolling for further discussions within the Group.
What ideas have been initiated to date? They range from applications in the field of 3-D printing to the implementation of a digital development platform or cooperation in the field of mobility services, such as the intelligent use of geographical data.
“Bringing a good idea to market maturity is simply fascinating.”