Audi Denkwerkstatt again among the best digital labs in a german company

The study analyzed the successes achieved by almost 50 digital labs in core-business- and non-core-business-related innovation, distinguishing between two categories: “Service” and “Industry.” In the “Industry” category, the Audi Denkwerkstatt achieved first place for non-core-business-related innovation and second place for core-business-related innovation. “For Audi, ‘Vorsprung’ means putting the customer at the heart of our activities and working together to create a better and more livable future. This mission is the inspiration for the Audi Denkwerkstatt team, which rethinks mobility every day and performs pioneering work in terms of both methodology and content,” says Hildegard Wortmann, Member of the Board of Management for Sales and Marketing at AUDI AG.

In the 2019 study conducted by Infront and Capital, the Audi Denkwerkstatt was ranked best-in-class and received two awards. The jury last year appraised above all the methods for generating ideas and converting these ideas into full-fledged concepts. This year, the focus was on the marketability of business models and their implementation strength. “I am extremely proud of the fact that we have significantly expanded our processes, competencies and experience in the areas of implementation and scaling. This is the main reason we once again achieved our top ranking,” says Matthias Brendel, Head of Audi Denkwerkstatt.

According to the study, the commercial success of digital innovation hubs that operate outside the existing structures of established companies is measured less by the creativity or speed of prototypes and more by their intelligent scaling. “The successful scaling of innovations is not a mad dash but a disciplined marathon,” says Dr. Felix Lau, the study leader from Infront Consulting.

On the one hand, the ability to scale business models properly is something that digital labs have to master if they want to bring mature products and services to market quickly; but on the other hand, it also requires a lot of resources. To deploy these resources as efficiently as possible, you need to lay solid foundations for the innovation process. “We validate our assumptions in the early innovation phase and so develop sustainable digital solutions tailored precisely to the needs of our customers. We have internalized this approach over many years and optimize it daily,” says Brendel. “Our aim is to make mobility in this complex, digitized world easier and more sustainable.”

Another strength of the Audi Denkwerkstatt that was also recognized in the study was its ability to operate at the interface between its core company, Audi, and Berlin’s startup scene. “Our internal and external network makes rapid implementation much easier for us in many respects,” says Brendel. Furthermore, the office is located inside the innovation community that is the Factory Berlin Coworking Space, which offers potential for establishing close contacts with tech experts possessing extensive know-how in the field of software development. Depending on the project and requirements, the innovation team finds its own ways of benefiting from both its core organization and startup network. 

Brendel and his interdisciplinary team are constantly reflecting on, enhancing and refining the processes inside Audi’s digital lab, which was founded in September 2016. The latest realignment aims to ensure that business ideas can be scaled even more efficiently. Following intensive and time-limited innovation cycles, a selected expert jury decides on the basis of fixed criteria whether a business model should be explored further or aborted. In this way, the innovation hub can pool its resources even earlier in the process of developing the most promising projects.

Learn more about the Audi Denkwerkstatt here:

The “Konzerne auf den Spuren von Startups” (companies on the trail of startups) study was conducted for the fourth year in succession. The latest study in its entirety can be found here: