Gebr. Schwarz is one of the Top 100

Firm from Rottweil joins Germany's elite group of innovative companies/Award to be presented by Top 100 mentor Ranga Yogeshwar

Gebr. Schwarz GmbH's innovation-focused senior management and outstanding innovation marketing are its key innovation drivers. The two-time winner of the Top 100 innovation award, which was founded in 1966 and is still run as a family business, offers product innovations in the areas of smart surfaces, bioplastics, and lightweight construction. Since introducing lean management and kaizen methods, Gebr. Schwarz's management has initiated new operational sequences and set up an inhouse research and development department. The company regularly analyses the latest trends in order to stimulate new ideas for future developments: "We are looking to see what the world will look like in 2020 or 2030 and to identify aspects that could be realised in plastics technology," explained Managing Director Jens Roth.

The expansion of its innovation marketing is also a strategic goal for this top innovator that has, over time, evolved from a contract manufacturer into a solution provider. Computations, simulations and product and process improvements deliver added value to customers. In 2015, the company invited a selection of customers to a Technology Day of direct dialogue and an exchange of ideas. Topics that were discussed included rapid prototyping using 3D printing, alternative raw materials, and the design of multi-touch surfaces. "We presented our projects and discussed with customers which elements would be of use to them, so that we could adjust our process development accordingly," commented Jens Roth. Two 3D printers now provide customers with tailor-made solutions.

This year, more than 4,000 companies registered an interest in taking part in the Top 100 competition, with 366 of them applying for the qualification round and 284 getting through to the finals. Ultimately, 238 made it into the Top 100 (maximum of one hundred in each of the three size categories). Once more, the companies were evaluated by Nikolaus Franke, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, and his team. They examined more than 100 parameters in the following five assessment categories: 'Innovation-friendly Senior Management', 'Climate of Innovation', 'Innovative Processes and Organisation', 'Innovations Marketing' and 'Successful Innovations'.

The Top 100 are among the pacesetters in their sectors. Statistics reveal that the evaluation process included 97 German market leaders and 32 global market leaders. On average, they generated 40 per cent of their recent revenue from innovations and product improvements, which they brought to the market before their competitors. Their revenue growth rate was 28 percentage points higher than the average for their industries. In the last three years, these SMEs have together applied for a total of 2,292 German and international patents. This ability to innovate also pays dividends in terms of jobs, with the Top 100 planning to take on around 9,500 new employees in the next three years.

The Top 100's mentor, science journalist and television presenter Ranga Yogeshwar, is impressed by the quality of the companies and hopes they will become role models. 'The way in which the Top 100 companies generate new ideas and develop groundbreaking products and services based on them is remarkable in the truest sense of the word. I am delighted that the award highlights these qualities. I hope their success will encourage others to follow in their footsteps, because this culture of innovation is going to become increasingly important for all companies."