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What Can IoT Entrepreneurs and the Mittelstand Learn from Each Other?

Peter Bihr (The Waving Cat)
Location: Conference Center - Golden Gate Room
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 2 ratings)
Slides:   1-PDF 

The German industrial and engineering landscape has been of interest particularly to US manufacturers for decades as it has remained competitive and export-oriented despite operating in a high-cost environment. Yet, beyond the more large scale operations dealing in M2M and some outliers such as 3D printer producer EOS, Germany has not developed much of a footprint in terms of IoT and new manufacturing. Particularly the companies of Germany’s so-called “Mittelstand” seem not to have embraced the automation, additive manufacturing, small-batch production of high-value items, and added value of connected devices and realized their competitive advantage in this field. I posit that this partially comes down to a cultural disconnect between traditional German businesses (often engineering driven, inward focused, innovative but risk averse) and the world of tinkerers and startups (international, experimental, open, outward focused).

As a preparation for ThingsCon – and by extension, Solid -, we are currently organizing a tour in which entrepreneurs, innovators, designers and engineers working on new hardware products (in the Solid sense of the word) visit both industrial design classics (Bauhaus, Vitra, etc.) and “Mittelstand” companies, the German flavor of often family-owned SMEs with a strong focus on engineering and technology. In a week long series of meetings, we will foster the dialog between both groups, learn how to make it easier for both sides to work together, and how to build business together going forward. This tour is scheduled for February.

I believe this will yield valuable and actionable insights for everyone building hardware products to scale as well as those inside the traditional engineering and technology industries.

Photo of Peter Bihr

Peter Bihr

The Waving Cat

Peter Bihr explores how emerging technologies change the world we live in. He does this in various roles: As an independent advisor, he helps organizations excel in an environment shaped by digitization, connectedness and rapid change. As Program Director for the conference NEXT Berlin, he highlights the macro trends that shape digital businesses in years to come. By organizing and chairing independent events like Things, UIKonf, Cognitive Cities Conference, Ignite Berlin or TEDxKreuzberg, he fosters communities of innovation and the exchange ideas.