Why is Bosch promoting entrepreneurship as part of the Wissensfabrik?
Ramesohl: “For Germany as a business location, it is important to foster the existing potential for jobs with a promising future. Unfortunately, there are often no opportunities here at home to establish companies. Bosch believes it is its duty to make a contribution and act in a socially responsible manner. As a result, we are promoting entrepreneurship and supporting young entrepreneurs as part of the Wissensfabrik. The many success models from other countries, such as the U.S., show how important this is. In times of advancing digital transformation, we here in Germany must not be left behind. This is why many Bosch executives are willing to volunteer for the initiative and pass on their knowledge. What’s more, we here at Bosch strive as a matter of principle to help good business ideas and innovative technologies achieve their breakthrough.”
What is Bosch doing specifically to support young entrepreneurs?
Ramesohl: “The Wissensfabrik supports young entrepreneurs first and foremost through a mentoring program. As part of this, Bosch provides experienced managers with whom entrepreneurs can discuss specific start-up-related topics and issues. Our associates visit the start-ups, gain an impression, and work with entrepreneurs to find solutions to their problems. The spectrum of assistance covers the entire value chain, from market strategies and business models to attracting customers. Instead of giving start-ups financial support, the Wissensfabrik helps them by providing advice and practical knowledge. The goal is to make it easier for entrepreneurs to enter the market and help them and their companies achieve long-term success. Many of our specialists and executives contribute to the college-level workshop Student2Start-up, where they act as mentors to advise students on everyday issues facing young entrepreneurs.”
How do young entrepreneurs benefit from the Wissensfabrik?
Ramesohl: “First and foremost, young entrepreneurs receive practical help on important topics such as market launch or tips on organizational and company development. Entrepreneurs can also draw on mentors’ extensive experience. We select these mentors very carefully. This is something that start-ups benefit from in the long term, too, since mentoring also helps establish a far-reaching network of entrepreneurs, experts, and various advising companies. The entrepreneurs also appreciate Bosch’s global experience as a provider of venture capital through Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH. Entrepreneurs can also benefit from knowledge when it comes to financing.”
What is the difference between Bosch’s involvement in the Wissensfabrik and its own start-up activities?
Ramesohl: “Bosch is involved in the Wissensfabrik so as to make a contribution to society by safeguarding Germany’s future. Today, some 120 companies and foundations of various sizes belong to the organization. None of the members are pursuing economic interests. Bosch’s commitment therefore concentrates on sharing knowledge and enabling entrepreneurs to make their own plans a reality. In contrast to its involvement in the Wissensfabrik, which focuses on Germany, Bosch acts as a global provider of venture capital through Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH. As part of this, we monitor the start-up scene and make targeted investments in start-ups. Our goal is to secure Bosch’s innovation leadership in the business fields of today and tomorrow in the long term. To do so, we also support these start-ups financially – unlike with the Wissensfabrik.”
To what extent can a large company learn from young entrepreneurs?
Ramesohl: “Large companies should always keep a watchful eye on the start-up scene to avoid missing out on future trends. Major corporations can often learn a great deal from the mentality of start-ups. These up-and-coming companies boldly try things and pursue ideas with fervor. The speed at which start-ups react to rapidly changing markets and technologies is sometimes very impressive. Many of our mentors bring this agility and entrepreneurial spirit back with them when they talk about their work with entrepreneurs. In turn, they incorporate this spirit into their day-to-day work with the according motivation. This is an important source of inspiration for companies such as Bosch while also encouraging them to keep improving processes. The successful examples from Silicon Valley show that good conditions and a pleasant working atmosphere have a positive impact on employees’ creativity and productivity.”
The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 390,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2016). According to preliminary figures, the company generated sales of 73.1 billion euros in 2016. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected industry. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to create solutions for a connected life, and to improve 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 Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 450 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 120 locations across the globe, Bosch employs 59,000 associates in research and development.
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.