Research

Bosch's own “Stanford” A speech by Dr. Volkmar Denner,
Chairman of the Board of Management
of Robert Bosch GmbH,
at the inauguration of the Renningen research campus
on October 14, 2015.

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  • October 14, 2015
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press release

Madam Chancellor,
Mr. Minister-President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

As a CEO, today makes me proud. As a physicist, it makes me almost envious. Here in Renningen, we are inaugurating Bosch’s new research center – a center we deliberately refer to as a campus. Just like at a university, it brings together many different faculties. It is a place where engineers and scientists of all disciplines can exchange ideas. It is, if you like, Bosch’s own “Stanford.”

I could also say that it will be a fine place to do research, and this is what makes my physicist heart skip a beat. I could imagine that this is a feeling you understand well, Madam Chancellor. After all, you too have had to forsake physics. That said, the two of us would perhaps give a lot to be young physicists again here on this research campus – not to gain insights into the inner workings of the world, but to look for new and meaningful solutions relating to driving, energy efficiency, or even digital connectivity. Here, at all events, the technological future is still open.

What very few people now remember is that Renningen has a history of paving the way for the future. If we go back 20 years, to a time when a campus was the last thing people were thinking of, we find our engineers using the adjoining airfield for driving trials. They were putting ESP through its paces – the electronic anti-skid program that was to hit the headlines a few years later, following the legendary elk test. In other words, Renningen was the site of the first trials for a system that would be such a blessing that it is now standard equipment in vehicles in many parts of the world. According to a study by the University of Cologne, this electronic guardian angel has prevented nearly 260,000 traffic accidents and saved some 8,500 lives in Europe alone. At Bosch, this is what we mean when we speak of “Invented for life” – a technology that gives our work so much meaning that it is an extra reward for our engineers.

Renningen is therefore a good place for pioneering technological achievements. For me, the story of ESP is an inspiration for the future – a future that will also see us further automating driving, and thus making it accident-free. And while not every Bosch innovation has such an immediate life-saving effect, our technological solutions can at least improve quality of life. For all our business interests, this is what motivates Bosch and its engineers. In the 20 years ahead, my expectation is that we will be seeing a lot of technology “Invented for life” emerging from Renningen.

At all events, we have invested more than 300 million euros in our new research campus on this prestigious site. After being spread over three locations in the greater Stuttgart area, 1,700 creative minds will now work together more closely and intensively than ever before. At the same time, Renningen will be the central hub of our global research and development network, with its 45,700 associates at 94 locations in 25 countries. This is on top of our 250 partnership arrangements with the world’s best universities and research institutes. Both locally and globally, we are networking our research and development.

We are not solely concerned to improve connections among our brightest technological minds – we also want our technology itself to be connected. At Bosch, we regard the internet of things as an epoch-making development, on a par with the advent of electronics in the car 50 years ago. Vehicles, machines, household appliances, and energy systems will soon communicate automatically with each other. When they do, it will affect the industrial heart of the German economy. In an age of digital connectivity, how can Germany stay technologically on top of its game? It can do so above all by promoting the key competencies of sensor technology and software. However, IoT-related business also arises out of new services. And if we do not want to let others seize these opportunities, then we have to be even faster and less risk-averse than before. Or to put it another way: our engineers have to think like businesspeople – at an earlier stage than ever before.

To this end, large companies such as Bosch have to grant people creative freedom, beyond the classic organization. It is no coincidence, therefore, that we have set up our own start-up platform for new business fields. But we can only make the most of this creative freedom if we have associates who act like businesspeople. Wherever possible, we want young graduates to bring this dynamic mindset with them. I want to see German university education infused with a greater sense of entrepreneurship.

Many people seem to believe that Europe can become some kind of “silicon valley.” In reality, however, there are neither the opportunities nor the willingness to establish start-ups. This is not just about a lack of venture capital, therefore, but also a lack of boldness. It has to be a matter of concern for us that only 25 percent of Germans can imagine setting up a company, while the figure for the U.S. is 40 percent. To make matters worse, fear of failure is the reason cited by 80 percent of Germans, while in the U.S. this figure is only 30 percent. Especially among its young university graduates, this country needs more start-up spirit. In this respect, universities have to do more than prepare their students for exams in highly specialized fields. For example, a lot could be gained by university chairs that combine technological subjects with the development of business models. If the “silicon valley” model really is to be the way forward for Europe, we have to learn to take risks.

At a company like Bosch, at all events, the path from the campus to the market must be a short one. After all, we do not want technology for its own sake, but technology that is “Invented for life.” No less than the future of the company depends on this. This research campus is a promise that Bosch’s best minds will work together to come up with innovations of the caliber of ESP – innovations that leave a lasting mark on the world.

Back to overview

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 375,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2015). The company generated sales of 70.6 billion euros in 2015. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing and sales network covers some 150 countries. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. Bosch employs 55,800 associates in research and development at 118 locations across the globe. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.”

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com and www.bosch-press.com, http://twitter.com/BoschPresse.

RF00255 - October 14, 2015

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