Fraunhofer IAO director strengthens Baden-Württemberg’s capacity to compete and innovate
Nov 16, 2016
Prof. Wilhelm Bauer, director of Fraunhofer IAO, has been appointed technology commissioner for the state of Baden-Württemberg. His appointment was announced by Baden-Württemberg Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann and Minister of Economic Affairs Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut at today’s state press conference in Stuttgart. Bauer’s role will be to help Baden-Württemberg master the future challenges it will face as a center for technology and innovation.
Digitalization in business and industry, the global race for innovation, and strengthening the innovative capability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – these are the major challenges facing the business sector. Further enhancing Baden-Württemberg’s innovative power hinges on quickly developing innovative, application-oriented formats and firmly establishing them within companies. The new technology commissioner will be tasked with preparing recommendations for improved technology transfer, while also addressing the specific concerns and issues of SMEs.
Close collaboration with SMEs
Involving SMEs is one of Bauer’s top priorities: “It is essential that we support SMEs across the state and in every sector by providing suitable transfer options to facilitate digitalization.” As technology commissioner, Bauer will be an important voice in recommending strategies to implement Wirtschaft 4.0 (“business 4.0”) and to tap the emerging technology and innovation potential of Baden-Württemberg’s SMEs. He will also have the task of fleshing out recommendations for expanding the technology transfer between research institutions and companies, and for promoting the acceptance of technology in society. To this end, Bauer will conduct analyses of key technological developments and examine market opportunities for the Baden-Württemberg economy. Over the coming years, he will be expected to make regular reports on the state’s progress on digitalization in industry.
Baden-Württemberg needs innovative formats
In her statement, Minister Hoffmeister-Kraut underlined her state’s excellent position compared to the rest of Germany: “Baden-Württemberg is the most innovative region in Europe. We channel 4.8 percent of our GDP into research and development, far beyond the 3 percent that is to be achieved across Europe by 2020. Enterprises in Baden-Württemberg play a major role in this success.” Nevertheless, to hold its own in international competition, Baden-Württemberg must seize the opportunities offered by business 4.0. Bauer points to the increasing importance of digitalization: “Business 4.0 goes beyond just folding digital technologies into existing business models. Instead, the challenge is really to harness the vast treasure trove of data that exists in industry and our service sectors to think in terms of new and even disruptive business models, platform strategies and system solutions. Then we have to be bold and dynamic about how we implement them.” In the first half of 2017, Bauer is to lay out an initial set of specific measures and a roadmap with concrete milestones. He will therefore aim to quickly enter into dialogue with business, industry, science and political representatives in Baden-Württemberg.
Vita Prof. Dr.-Ing. Prof. e. h. Wilhelm Bauer
As executive director, Professor Bauer leads a research organization with some 560 employees. He is responsible for research and implementation projects in the areas of innovation research, technology management, living and working in the future, smarter cities and mobility innovations. As a member of numerous committees, Professor Bauer is an advisor to policy-makers and the business community. He has authored more than 300 scientific and technical publications and is an associate lecturer at the Universities of Stuttgart and Hannover. Professor Bauer has been honored with the “Übermorgenmacher” distinction for innovators by the German state of Baden-Württemberg.