Ätztechnik Herz among the TOP 100

Ätztechnik Herz among the TOP 100

Epfendorf company makes it into Germany’s innovation elite/ Award from TOP 100 mentor Ranga Yogeshwar

Epfendorf am Neckar – For the 23rd time now, the most innovative German small and medium-sized companies have been singled out for the TOP 100 award. This year, Ätztechnik Herz GmbH & Co. KG is one of this innovative elite. The company from Epfendorf previously went through a rigorous scientific selection process. This looked in particu-lar at innovation management and success. Mentor of the innovation competition, Ranga Yogeshwar, presented the awards to the top inno-vators at the Small and Medium-Sized Company Summit on 24 June in Essen.

Ätztechnik Herz GmbH & Co. KG’s new innovation strategy convinced jurors at the Top 100 innovation competition. The family-run company operates worldwide, producing high-precision, contour-etched metal parts for products such as dry shavers, car loudspeakers, and heart pacemakers, and is European market leader in etching technology. Developing its own manufacturing technology has allowed this top innovator to expand its portfolio for series production. At the same time, the Epfendorf company has created a unique selling point for itself: “Our competitors can manufacture either prototypes and samples or large series ‒ but none of them can do both,” CEO Steffen Herz explains. Most recent figures show that the company, that was founded in 1974 and employs 81 staff, has increased its turnover by 26 per cent, while the sector as a whole has registered growth of only ten per cent.

The management at Ätztechnik Herz is open to unconventional methods and not afraid to take risks to enable it to react quickly and flexibly to customer requirements. “When we have a promising idea, we are prepared to turn the occasional blind eye to classical business administration practice,” Steffen Herz says. Ninety per cent of all employees have already submitted innovative suggestions; a third of which have been successfully implemented. Senior management is involved in the innovation process at all times and defines and monitors innovation targets personally.

This year, over 4,000 companies were interested in participating in the TOP 100 competition. 366 applied to take part in the qualification round. Of these, 284 reached the final. Ultimately, 238 made it into the TOP 100 (maximum 100 in each of the three size categories). Once again, the companies were assessed by Professor Nikolaus Franke and his team from the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Economics and Business Administration in Vienna. They surveyed over 100 parameters in five assessment categories: “Innovation-Friendly Senior Management”, “Climate of Innovation”, “Innovative Processes/Organization”, “Innovations Marketing” and “Successful Innovations”.

The TOP 100 set the pace in their respective sectors ‒ a fact that is borne out by statistical evaluation. Among these companies there are 97 national market leaders and 32 global market leaders. Most recently, they have generated on average around 40 per cent of their turnover with innovations and product improvements brought to market before their competitors. Their turnover growth stood at roughly 28 per cent higher than the respective sector average. Overall, small and medium-sized companies registered 2,292 national and international patents in the last three years. This innovative strength also translates into jobs: The TOP 100 are planning to recruit around 9,500 new employees in the next three years.

TOP 100 mentor, science journalist and television presenter Ranga Yogeshwar, is impressed by the quality of the companies and hopes the competition will send out a positive message to others: “The way in which the TOP 100 generate new ideas and turn them into pioneering products and services is quite literally remarkable. I am therefore especially pleased that this award highlights these qualities. I hope your success will encourage other companies to emulate your achievements, since this culture of innovation will become increasingly important for every company in the future.”

The competition: TOP 100

Since 1993, compamedia has been awarding the Top 100 seal of approval to SMEs with a particular ability to innovate and above-average success rates for innovations. This project has been coordinated by Professor Nikolaus Franke from the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration since 2002. The Top 100 is mentored by science journalist and televi-sion presenter Ranga Yogeshwar and partnered by the Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research and the German Association for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW). manager magazin provides media support for the com-pany benchmarking competition. Further information is available at www.top100.de.