This year, Hauff-Technik GmbH & Co. KG is joining the 23rd Top 100 awards for Germany’s most innovative SMEs, for the seventh time in succession. The company has also achieved second place in the size category for companies with 51 to 250 employees for the second time. The Hermaringen-based firm took part in a rigorous, scientific selection process that analysed innovation management and successful innovation. Ranga Yogeshwar, the competition mentor, presented the top innovators with their awards at the German SME Summit in Essen on 24 June.
Hauff-Technik GmbH & Co. KG scored highly in all assessment categories of the Top 100 competition. It’s no coincidence that this company from Hermaringen has built itself up over the past 60 years from a small manufacturing business to one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of sealing systems for cables, pipes and line entries. This is the seventh time in succession that Hauff-Technik has been a Top 100 award winner. The company has continued to develop over the years and this year even managed to make the leap to second place in size category B for the second time.
"We develop products that customers today don’t even know they’ll be needing tomorrow," commented Managing Director Dr Michael Seibold, proudly. This is why the company always thinks one step ahead and develops innovations that steal a march on the competition. Thanks to this strategy, some 60 per cent of Hauff-Technik’s recent revenues have come from market innovations and innovative improvements that it has brought to the market ahead of its competitors. The Sales department collects customer opinions and reports these back to the company. "We can pretty much guarantee that we won’t bypass the needs of our customers," commented Dr Seibold.
The top innovator has structured and optimised its innovation processes in a way that allows even radical ideas to be methodically gathered. A specially created innovation postbox helps to manage suggestions. When processing innovation ideas, Hauff-Technik relies on a mixture of analogue and digital media. "For ad-hoc meetings, we might make use of a smartboard or a special piece of software, for example. But classic techniques, such as reviews or group discussions are also an integral aspect of our handling of innovation ideas," explained Dr Seibold. A climate of openness is also important: the door of the company’s Board is always open to its 207 employees, and regular events help maintain a sense of cohesion. On such a sound footing, it’s no wonder that the company looks set to continue actively shaping the future.
This year, more than 4,000 companies registered an interest in taking part in the Top 100 competition, with 366 of them applying for the qualification round and 284 getting through to the finals. Ultimately, 238 made it into the Top 100 (maximum of one hundred in each of the three size categories). Once more, the companies were evaluated by Nikolaus Franke, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, and his team. They examined more than 100 parameters in the following five assessment categories: ‘Innovation-friendly Senior Management’, ‘Climate of Innovation’, ‘Innovative Processes and Organisation’, ‘Innovations Marketing’ and ‘Successful Innovations’.
The Top 100 are among the pacesetters in their sectors. Statistics reveal that the evaluation process included 97 German market leaders and 32 global market leaders. On average, they generated 40 per cent of their recent revenue from innovations and product improvements, which they brought to the market before their competitors. Their revenue growth rate was 28 percentage points higher than the average for their industries. In the last three years, these SMEs have together applied for a total of 2,292 German and international patents. This ability to innovate also pays dividends in terms of jobs, with the Top 100 planning to take on around 9,500 new employees in the next three years.
The Top 100’s mentor, science journalist and television presenter Ranga Yogeshwar, is impressed by the quality of the companies and hopes they will become role models. ‘The way in which the Top 100 companies generate new ideas and develop groundbreaking products and services based on them is remarkable in the truest sense of the word. I am delighted that the award highlights these qualities. I hope their success will encourage others to follow in their footsteps, because this culture of innovation is going to become increasingly important for all companies."
The Top 100 competition
Since 1993, compamedia has been awarding the Top 100 seal of approval to SMEs with a particular ability to innovate and above-average success rates for innovations. This project has been coordinated by Professor Nikolaus Franke from the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration since 2002. The Top 100 is mentored by science journalist and television presenter Ranga Yogeshwar and organised in partnership with the Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research and the German Association for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW).