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How startup-affine is the machine engineering and plant manufacturing industry?

June 7, 2019

An interesting question for any industry, I would say. In order to find possible answers to the question, weXelerate managing director Awi Lifshitz and team were proud to welcome the German Engineering Association (VDMA) on June 5th to the biggest hub in CEE.

VDMA in a nutshell

Together with weXelerate VDMA’s country manager Georg Priesner welcomed around 70 guests from different sectors of the engineering industry. He explained that with more than 3.300 members, serviced in 36 associations, VDMA is the biggest industrial federation within Europe. 750 experts are professionally working in VDMA with its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany and its strong Brussels office for European lobbying. The Austrian office of VDMA was founded in July 2017 in Vienna. The members profit from the broad association’s network and its expertise. There are also 1.500 events and fairs every year, which around 50.000 people attend. Furthermore, around 20 studies and analyses are published every year. They give a great insight into future trends and help companies decide on possible ways to develop.

Studying startups

After the short introduction, Dr. Laura Dorfer, project manager at VDMA Startup-Machine, presented a current study focussing on the question “Is the cooperation between startups and corporates reality or just utopia?”. Laura Dorfer emphasised that the positive influence of startups on companies is widely accepted in the machine engineering and plant manufacturing industry. The study showed that two thirds of the interviewees think that startups are an important topic for the future. 70% were really happy with the cooperations in the past and 73% plan to be cooperating with startups within the next 3 years. Even the 84% of the respondents that had unsatisfying prior experience with startups, claimed to want to cooperate with startups again. This fact shows that failing and the willingness to talk about it are gaining acceptance within the industry as well.

Another question the team around Laura Dorfer asked were what the motifs for companies are to work with startups. The majority answered that startups give access to new technologies and knowledge. Furthermore, they bring in new business models and products. Last but not least cooperations with startups help building an innovative corporate image. Furthermore, startups offer access to specialized personnel as well as lead to cultural transfer and inspiration within the company.

Laura Dorfer concluded her presentation with short insights into the works of the VDMA Startup Machine. This subgroup within VDMA offers its members three valuable aspects: startup scouting, matchmaking and best practice examples. The association also publishes many interesting reports on trends and future developments of the branch every year.

Enjoying the hub.

After the presentation of the study Awi Lifshitz together with Martin Wolf, Head of the Corporate Partners Team, and Sebastian Höfinger, Head of the Startup Team, gave a short overview of the weXelerate hub. They focused on the three pillars: ecosystem, collaboration and services. Furthermore, Awi emphasised that to be successful it is most important to take impulses and ideas and realize them. The highlight of the event was seeing numerous weXelerate and VDMA startups in action. They pitched their projects and ideas in front of the assembled audience. In the afternoon the guests learned what innovative offices can look like when Sebastian showed them around the hub. They furthermore got first-hand experience from weXelerate corporate partners Palfinger 21st and Andritz and enjoyed networking and the exchanging of the ideas at the end of the event.