Innovation: an engine for change
Knowledge is the most important resource a company can have. All developments and transformations are sparked by one brilliant idea. Ideas that have been successfully put into practice – i.e. innovations – are the engine of success. Alongside numerous other factors, tailor-made processes are central to successfully positioning new products and services on the market. We use various awards to give employees the opportunity to pitch their ideas each year. The success of these internal company idea and innovation competitions speaks for itself, with hundreds of project ideas submitted in recent years. Accordingly, the personal mantra of the 2020 IDEA Award prize winner, Wolfgang Diesenreiter (Greiner Extrusion), serves as a guide for the group as a whole: “The most efficient way to multiply knowledge is to share it!”
Future Hunters: Thinking about our future today
Continually reinventing Greiner and permanently being on the search for new ideas, trends and technologies was the main task of Greiner Technology & Innovation. In the past, it looked for potential future issues, application opportunities and drivers of innovation together with partners from a diverse external network. In 2020, we also created an internal network called Future Hunters. The main aim of Greiner Future Hunters was to expand the internal network in order to evaluate current and future challenges facing the plastic and foam sectors and to initiate sustainable changes. After the initial phase of Greiner Future Hunters, this network was to comprise Greiner employees from all sites around the globe. Anyone with curiosity, imagination and a passion for innovation and who wanted to help shape the future of our company in the long term was invited to take part. Greiner Future Hunters aimed to establish a varied, diverse and creative network of innovators and unconventional thinkers to identify, discuss and evaluate issues of the future. This created a basis for developing future products and services and fertile soil for entirely new approaches to achieving the goals of our sustainability strategy.
IDEA Award: Ideas for the future
The focus of the IDEA Award varied. Because knowledge has to be accumulated and made available, the 2020 idea campaign looked at knowledge management. It asked where the greatest challenges lie in transferring knowledge, how knowledge can be provided automatically and whether knowledge services could be used externally. The Greiner Future Hunters network chose the winner: With his idea of a “Simple Expert System”, Wolfgang Diesenreiter (Greiner Extrusion) aimed to collect expertise from all divisions in a database, systematically process this knowledge and make it available across the group. For his efforts, he received the IDEA Award 2020, which carries a prize of up to 200,000 euros. Christopher König (Greiner Bio-One) received the 2019 IDEA Award for his idea “Prediction of sequence dependent set up times”. His idea should make the work of production planners far easier thanks to artificial intelligence. After choosing the annual winning projects for the IDEA Award, a feasibility study is carried out for the winning idea.
"We use various awards to give employees the opportunity to pitch their ideas each year, allowing them to shape the future themselves."
R&D Award: Products for the future
Any promising idea must first be made a reality. This is why we held the R&D Award over the past few years. Winners received prize money of 500,000 euros for implementing the project. All Greiner divisions were eligible to take part. The submitted products supported by universities, technical colleges or even start-ups had a bonus. Collaborations were expressly encouraged. The 2019 R&A Award was won by NEVEON colleagues with their "Greiner Intelligent Seat" project. The intelligent airplane seat features sensors that measure humidity, surface pressure and temperature, automatically informing the airline of the seat’s current condition. Winner of the 2020 R&A Award was a project submitted by Stephan Laske (Greiner Packaging). The project is called "GPOil" and deals with the chemical recycling of plastic waste which is usually incinerated as a substitute fuel. Instead of burning the waste, under "GPOil" it is reclaimed as a high-quality material that is then used in food packaging. This innovation aims to get involved in plastic waste recycling, and in doing so take a decisive step towards creating a circular economy.
Innovation Award: Successful market launch
An innovation is successful when new products and services are launched on the market. Accordingly, we used our Innovation Award to take a look at new projects that have been successfully put to market. Daniel Scherhammer (NEVEON) received the 2019 Innovation Award for his "Vacuum Insulation Panel Module" project. The winner of the 2020 Innovation Award was the "VACUETTE® Stabilisation Tube" submitted by Moritz Wiesbauer from Greiner Bio-One. In light of global shortages of these kind of products caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this project aimed to provide a mass-produced tube for transporting swap specimens for SARS-CoV-2 tests in a very short period of time. This is to be done using standard Greiner Bio-One devices, processes and components to ensure a short development time and a quick ramp-up to large-scale production.
INNOVENTURES: Incubator for the ideas of tomorrow
Having a protected framework to develop and establish new ideas benefits all areas of the economy and, in particular, those undergoing a process of transformation towards sustainability. As well as Future Hunters, our innovation hub Greiner Technology & Innovation thus created the corporate incubator INNOVENTURES, a platform for all innovations not directly related to Greiner’s operating business. The corporate incubator offers an organizational structure that helps put radical innovations into practice. It provides an environment similar to that of a start-up, promoting creative, innovative and above all risk-on collaboration. Securing sustainable growth means thinking outside the box of the present and considering opportunities for future business areas and innovative products. Radical innovations needed to implement our sustainability strategy require agility and courage. The corporate incubator INNOVENTURES creates a suitable framework for doing this. The corporate incubator helps the entire group with innovations, analyzes future trends and conducts internal innovation projects to develop ideas for solutions that go beyond further developing divisions’ existing activities. In the case of external innovation projects, non-company projects are linked to Greiner with the support of INNOVENTURES. The aim is to harness synergies by allowing external collaboration partners such as start-ups to benefit from our experience and reach in various markets and, in exchange, for us to benefit from their innovative spirit and the fact that they can put ideas into practice more quickly.
International awards for successful circular economy ideas
In collaboration with our customer Henkel, we developed cardboard-plastic packaging that Henkel uses for its Persil 4 in1 detergent. 50 percent of the sustainable Persil packaging is made from recycled polypropylene (r-PP), which comes from household waste – a prime example of successfully thinking about the circular economy. The 100 percent recyclable packaging and the small amount of plastic used help reduce CO2 emissions, with the cardboard sleeve ensuring that the container is stable. Both Greiner Packaging and Henkel have signed the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. This commits us to eliminating problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging, making packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable and increasing our use of recycled materials. The new K3® packaging solution meets all of these requirements in their entirety. This packaging won us the 2020 Green Packaging Award at the 2021 Worldstar Global Packaging Awards.