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Huber Kältemaschinenbau is an Innovator of the Year

Ranga Yogeshwar honours Germany's most innovative SMEs


Germany's most innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) possess outstanding inventive capabilities, use exemplary innovation processes and are highly adept at translating ideas into market success. Ranga Yogeshwar will present these companies with the prestigious Top 100 award in Friedrichshafen on 22 June. This is the fourth time that Peter Huber Kältemaschinenbau GmbH from Offenburg in Baden-Württemberg has won this accolade – and as the Innovator of the Year for 2012, it is one of three main prize-winners.

Innovations are fast-tracked at this producer of energy-saving, environmentally compatible and rapidly evolving temperature control technology. "Our customers often already have a prototype before the accompanying artwork has even been completed", said chief financial officer Daniel Huber. Teamwork at all levels makes this rapid pace possible. Chief technology officer Joachim Huber, the project managers, the head of production and the materials-management and design departments all share an open-plan office. The glass-panelled communication centre houses the beating heart of this 240-strong firm.

Customer contact is also maintained by sharing information and ideas – at meetings such as the Tango Club where major users of Huber machines dance the tango in the truest sense of the word. Discussions in the club draw them elegantly into the product-development process at an early stage. "After all, it takes two to tango", quotes Daniel Huber. The introduction of touch screens for using the thermostats on the machines - an idea that emerged at the club - shows how successful this can be.

The company's innovative strength impressed the Top 100 panel of judges who named Peter Huber Kältemaschinenbau Innovator of the Year for 2012 in the category for companies with up to 250 employees. Top 100 panel member Edelgard Bulmahn said: "Peter Huber succeeds impressively in combining an informal culture of innovation with systematic innovations management. The vibrant innovation culture extends across all levels of the company and the network this creates promotes a productive exchange of ideas among different functions in the company."

Professor Nikolaus Franke and his team from the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration have examined the innovations management systems used by 281 medium-sized German companies. The best of them receive the prestigious Top 100 award. Daniel Huber was delighted to have won this accolade and emphasised that this achievement had been a team performance. "I see this award as a recognition of the work done by our staff. Their enthusiasm and efforts are the key driver behind our innovation. At the same time we have put in place the right processes to ensure that this creativity can unleash its full productive potential. Our success is a combination of these two factors."

compamedia – in collaboration with the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration – presents awards to a total of 116 firms (no more than 100 in each of the three size categories), which include 51 domestic market leaders and 20 global market leaders. All of these companies together generated total revenue of approximately €8.1 billion in 2011. 100 of them achieved growth that exceeded the industry average – by an average of 20 percentage points – in the past three years. The prize-winning SMEs invested a total of €623 million in research & development and innovation processes in 2011 and plan to recruit almost 6,000 employees over the next three years, expanding their workforces by 12 per cent.

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