The TOP 100 awards are being presented for the 23rd time to Germany’s most innovative enterprises in the SME sector. This year, Schmidt + Clemens GmbH + Co. KG also ranks among the innovation leaders. To achieve this honour, the Lindlar-based company had to undergo a demanding scientific selection process. The parameters under scrutiny were innovation management and innovation success. The mentor of the innovation competition, TV presenter Ranga Yogeshwar, will present the Top Innovator awards as part of the German Mittelstand Summit on 24 June in Essen.
The long history of Top Innovator Schmidt + Clemens GmbH + Co. KG has been marked by innovative developments and industrial milestones. Founded in 1879 as a steel trading business, the TOP 100 enterprise today produces high-alloy special steels. From that, the owner-run business then makes an extensive range of stainless steel products, including pipe systems for the petrochemical industry. The company’s parent site in Lindlar, near Cologne, employs 611 people, with a further 452 people working at the operating locations in the USA, India, the UK, the Czech Republic, Spain, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. The Top Innovator is a world market leader. The company holds ten patents and has a test stand for testing materials that is the only one of its kind in the world.
The high-temperature test stand is located in S+C’s own research and devel-opment laboratory. The testing and simulations that can be performed on it take place under the same operating conditions as those prevailing in use by the customers. “On the basis of the results, we can generate solutions that are tailored to the customers’ needs,” says CEO Jan Schmidt-Krayer. The results are stored in a database known as “Hype”. The development person-nel have access to and can subject the ideas to further assessment or pro-cessing.
Ideas for innovation projects also frequently come from Sales & Marketing. “The problems our customers have in operating their plants are incorporated directly into our development work,” says Jan Schmidt-Krayer, explaining the innovation potential. The development process is accompanied by process-near product tests. After market launch, the responsible personnel engage in intense lessons-learned sessions with the customer and so gain further valu-able impulses for new developments and innovative solutions.
Over 4,000 businesses expressed an interest in participating in this year’s TOP 100 event. 366 of them applied to take part in the qualifying round. Of these, 284 reached the final round. And 238, finally, made it through to the TOP 100 (a maximum of 100 in each of the three size classes). The enter-prises were rated by Prof. Nikolaus Franke and his team from the Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Vienna University of Economics and Business. They looked at over 100 parameters in five assessment catego-ries: “Innovation-promoting Top Management”, “Innovation Climate”, “Innova-tive Processes and Organization”, “Innovation Marketing/External Orientation” and “Innovation Success”.
The TOP 100 number among the pacesetters in their sectors. That can be seen from the evaluation statistics: The companies include 97 national mar-ket leaders and 32 world market leaders. On average, they most recently earned 40 percent of their sales with market innovations and product im-provements which they brought to market ahead of their competitors. Their sales growth exceeded the sectoral average by 28 percentage points. Collectively, the SMEs applied for 2,292 national and international patents in the course of the last three years. This innovative strength is also reflected in jobs, with the TOP 100 planning to take on around 9,500 new staff in the coming three years.
The mentor of TOP 100, the science journalist and TV presenter Ranga Yogeshwar, is impressed by the quality of the businesses, and hopes they will have a lighthouse effect. “The way in which the TOP 100 generate new ideas and develop groundbreaking products and services from them is re-markable in the truest sense of the word. I am therefore delighted that the distinction of winning renders these qualities visible. I hope their success will encourage other enterprises to try and do the same. After all, this kind of innovation culture will become increasingly important for all businesses in future.”
TOP 100: The competition
The TOP 100 Seal for outstanding innovation strength and above-average innovation success has been awarded by compamedia to SME enterprises since 1993. Scientific responsibility has been in the hands of Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Franke of the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Vienna University of Economics and Business since 2002. The mentor of TOP 100 is science journalist and TV presenter Ranga Yogeshwar. Project partners are the Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research and the BVMW. As the media partner, the company competition is accompanied by “manager magazin”. For more information, go to www.top100.de.
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