They operate in blood pressure measuring devices, pipe inspection robotics and tattoo machines – the micromotors and drive systems from Dr. Fritz Faulhaber GmbH & Co. KG. The family owned and led company, acclaimed as a top innovator, is headquartered in Schönaich (near Stuttgart) and was founded in 1947. Today, 600 staff members work for the company, which is a leader in the market for high precision drive systems.
The Swabian company's drive to innovate is particularly strong in the miniature motor sector. "Each and every day, we work on achieving another, even higher level of miniaturisation, precision and performance to volume ratio", explains Reiner Bessey, department head of Development, Platforms and Technology. That's why new product developments are coordinated through structured processes. An important component of this is the Solution Screening, in which the products from related industries are closely scrutinised. The key principle: attractive technologies are often not really new – they are only new to the other respective industry. Moreover, the company's "Innovation Days" are a proven element of their marketing. They are held twice a year at the corporate headquarters to inform customer representatives from management and development about the innovation processes. FAULHABER's top management, who take part in advanced training on 18 days each year, dedicate at least 40 percent of their working hours to innovation.
For CEO Dr. Fritz Faulhaber, the success as part of the "Top 100" is something very special: "We regard the award with the "Top 100" emblem as the reward for our combined efforts within the company. However, being innovative doesn't mean you can just rest on your laurels. Which is why we will celebrate today – but tomorrow we will be tinkering with new ideas again."
Ascension into the "Top 100" is preceded by a demanding selection process. The innovation researcher Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Franke and his team from the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business examined the applications of 247 companies. Split up into three size classes (with a maximum of 100 companies per size class), 148 of them are granted the award as being a Top Innovator. Innovation management and innovation success are the focus of the examination.
"The 'Top 100' succeed outstandingly in scoring with their ideas in the market. That is the hurdle that many other companies fail to take. The top innovators master this challenge with exceptional team spirit, efficient processes and, often as well, by involving customers and external partners in the development at an early stage", states Prof. Franke.
Just how good this year's "Top 100" are can be seen by looking at the statistics: 65 national market leaders, and even 21 global market leaders, are included. Taken together, in the past three years the top innovators applied for nearly 2,100 national and international patents. This innovative strength bestows the companies with remarkable success: from 2011 to 2013, 82 percent of them grew above the average for their respective industry – in fact by an astonishing 22 percentage points on average. They earn 41.6 percent of their revenues with original market products and innovative improvements. For comparison's sake: on average, for all SMEs in Germany the figure is only 6.8 percent. 62 percent of the "Top 100" are family‐run companies.