WESEL, Germany – The biggest challenge currently facing German industry managers is the need to differentiate themselves. Nevertheless, the number of networks with innovative startup companies did not increase compared to 2015. In 2016, as in the previous year, 11% of industrial companies invested in young technology companies. Instead, the number of networks with customers promoting innovation grew vis-à-vis the prior year. These are the results of the study, Industry Innovation Index 2016, conducted by the Forsa institute. In the study, commissioned by the chemicals group ALTANA, 500 managers and entry-level professionals were surveyed.

An important prerequisite for investing in startups is a willingness to take risks. But according to the study, business courage is less widespread in German companies than other innovation-promoting measures. Only 9% of the managers consider this aspect to be very strong in their company, while 38% considered it to be weak or not pronounced at all. Unconventional thinking and action, and targeted use of external knowledge, were the measures implemented for an innovation culture that finished in second-to-last and third-to-last place, respectively. This is another indication that cooperation between established industrial companies and innovative startups needs to be reconsidered.

“The challenge is to continually reinvent yourself in order to remain innovative. In this regard, established industrial companies can learn a lot from startups. The prerequisite is a corporate culture that is open to the new and to different opinions,” says Martin Babilas, the CEO of ALTANA, summing up.

To create the Industry Innovation Index study, the market research institute Forsa conducted 500 telephone interviews, in the spring of 2016, with representatives of industrial companies with at least 250 employees. The specialty chemicals company ALTANA commissioned the study. A total of 250 management board members, managing directors and division heads were interviewed. In parallel, Forsa surveyed 250 entry-level professionals from industrial companies aged 18 to 35 with one to five years of professional experience.