One year after moving into the premises in Regensburg’s TechBase and successful completion of its first projects, Krones AG’s Innovation Lab was officially inaugurated on 9 October 2017.
The TechBase is located directly next to the university and the East Bavarian University of Applied Science (OTH), and offers space for start-ups, research labs and technology clusters. Reciprocal networking of these entities and the universities’ neighbouring institutions provides advantages that also benefited Krones AG’s Innovation Lab of right from the start. Students are a vital part of the Innovation Lab. They work as interns or student trainees on practically relevant tasks or support these within the context of their dissertations.
“Responsively fit-for-purpose project management”
The Krones Innovation Lab is tasked with kick-starting innovation projects focusing on digitalisation in a very early phase of the innovation process, validating the business case, and performing preliminary studies on technical feasibility, underpinned by the use of responsively fit-for-purpose development methods with a tight customer focus. In line with the “Design Thinking” concept, the lab team consists of Krones staff and students from highly disparate specialist backgrounds. At present, Krones’ lab team comprises economists, specialists in media informatics, mechanical engineers and product designers. With this interdisciplinary staffing, the Innovation Lab harnesses the mindsets and methodological approaches of many different specialisms, and is accordingly able to analyse and progress the projects from highly disparate viewpoints.
Start-up culture and networking
An entrepreneurial mindset, boldness and innovative vigour are the driving forces behind Krones’ Innovation Lab. Its most important advantages include the interdisciplinary team’s independence, creativity, fit-for-purpose responsiveness, and speed of implementation. Without protracted preparations, the staff from the Innovation Lab devote themselves to a huge spectrum of disparate issues.
The Innovation Lab was greenlighted in the autumn of 2016. Since then, the youthful team headed by Lab Director Dr. Johannes Scholz has been tasked with creating innovative working procedures designing the work environment, and planning and implementing some initial pilot projects. Following a successful first year, the Innovation Lab is with the official inauguration already upgrading its capacities: in future, two project teams will be working in parallel on new innovation projects. About ten student trainees are guided by two staff from Krones’ R&D Department, supplemented for specific projects by appropriate specialists from the Krones Group.
Praise from a nationwide study
Recognition for the Innovation Lab’s work so far has come not only from inside, but from outside the company as well: a nationwide study in Germany assessed and rated approximately 100 »Digital Innovation Units« against six criteria, from control and methodology to networking. The Krones Innovation Lab scored well, particularly in the methodology and issues categories. “That we have already been listed after less than one year in a nationwide study by the German-language financial magazine “Capital”, we see as a welcome validation of our work. By expanding the lab-driven approach, we are purposefully progressing this thrust,” explains Dr. Johannes Scholz, Director of the Innovation Lab.