This 177-year-old startup looks to the next generation to drive innovation

“We can’t solve this problem alone”: As the world faces growing challenges, Siemens tells Euronews’ Hannah Brown in The Big Question how it’s counting on start-ups to stay ahead of the curve in innovation.


“I think we were one of the first start-ups in history.”

“There were no garages at the time, but if there had been, I think we would have started the Siemens business in a garage,” Dr. Annika Hauptvogel told The Big Question.

Siemens is now a household name. Founded in 1847, the company built the first long-distance telegraph line in Europe. Since then, it has innovated and transformed itself into an industrial giant, producing refrigerators, mobile phones, medical instruments, trains and rail infrastructure, wind turbines and Energy infrastructure and industrial automation.

Despite being over 170 years old, Siemens is now partnering with startups to stay ahead of the curve. But with so many resources at its disposal, what does that do for it?

In this episode of The Big Question, Hannah Brown speaks with Dr. Annika Hauptvogel, Head of Technology and Innovation Management at Siemens to discuss their approach stimulate innovation.

What is the best way to stimulate innovation?

“Innovation cycles are getting shorter and shorter and we have to be faster and faster.

“And you can’t be that fast if you’re just in your own bubble,” Annika explained.

Annika believes that working with start-ups helps bring new ideas.

Through their Siemens for Start-Ups program, they provide free software to help seed ideas and then test products internally at Siemens. Once a product is successful and works well, they connect it to their external customers to market it.

“If we talk about sustainabilitySiemens, we can’t solve this problem alone, right? So the important aspect is how do we connect the right players in this ecosystem?

“I think it’s important to be customer zero to try things out first. And if the quality is good, if we see that it’s really an app and it helps us, then we should offer it to our customers and not the other way around,” she added.

When asked whether, while pursuing their goal of innovation, they are sometimes afraid of fueling their future competitors, Annika is very confident in their approach.

“Sometimes in other areas you’re in competition and in another area you’re a great partner. So I think we should focus on the challenge we’re facing and how we can solve it rather than whether we’re in competition or not, but rather on solving a problem.”

How can AI contribute to industrial innovation?

In order to reduce the environmental impact of innovation, Siemens is a major supporter of the industrial sector metaverse.

This means creating a Double digital of everything you develop and use AI simulations to evaluate changes and optimize features. Only once something works perfectly in the metaverse is it built.

“And with that, of course, you use less materials because you don’t have to create, build, manufacture these prototypes. And with that, we can now reduce the amount of materials by 50% just by trying it in this design.

“In addition to that, of course, when you design a product, you can also think of different designs. But when you apply AI to that process, AI will come up with new designs that we would never have thought of.

“AI can, for example, design lighter products. And thanks to that, we reduce the quantity of materials, we reduce the carbon footprint.”


Annika notably mentioned a start-up called RIIICO from Aachen, Germany, which Siemens has partnered with to map its factories to create digital twins.

“So we had two existing factories and we wanted to consolidate them into one new factory, and we made the design of that new factory completely virtual.

“They could already optimize processes in the design phase and not during construction, which reduces failures during actual construction.

“Now, comparing the old factories with this new one, we saw that the increased productivity by 20%,” added Annika.

The big questionis a Euronews Business series in which we sit down with industry leaders and experts to discuss some of the most important topics on today’s agenda.


Watch the video above to see the full interview with Siemens.

Journalist • Hannah Brown

Video Editor • Joanna Adhem

Additional sources • Additional proofreading by Nicolas Coquet

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