Audi Denkwerkstatt Distinguished as Top Innovation Unit

Audi Denkwerkstatt started in September 2016 in Berlin. 23 Audi employees on permanent or temporary assignments currently work there in a co-working space. The aim of the groups, which change every six months, is to develop innovative business models that extend beyond the car. Working in small cross-functional teams, the participants are able to implement a business model that has already been tested on the market and thus validated within the space of five months by means of customer-focused development, independent working methods and cooperation with startups.

The study entitled “Konzerne auf den Spuren von Startups 2019” (companies on the trail of startups 2019), conducted by strategy and management consulting firm Infront Consulting & Management and business magazine Capital, has now verified that this is a successful approach. The Audi Denkwerkstatt competed in two of the three categories and won in the “Innovation Discovery” category, which rated the generation of ideas and their development into concepts. The Berlin-based innovation unit also came second in the “Innovation Development” category. In this category, the jury assessed the further development of the concepts into market-ready products and services.

Matthias Brendel, head of the Audi Denkwerkstatt, is happy: “This is a great success for the program we developed and the hard work we put in over the last few years.” He is particularly proud of the success rate of their business models. “With our participants from all parts of the company, we manage time and again to quickly turn ideas into business models that will add to or expand Audi’s vehicle portfolio in the future and support the company on its path to becoming a digital mobility company.”

The main focus of the Denkwerkstatt is urban issues that relate to mobility. For example, it develops products and services for electric mobility in the city as well as offers to create added value of customers commuting times. The teams work on projects such as creating offers for a flexible and inexpensive charging infrastructure—as demonstrated by the ParkE project. The charging terminal on wheels is a compact and mobile battery storage device. It electrifies parking lots without any great effort, thereby providing electric cars with energy.

In addition to co-working and using agile methods, the co-living concept, which received very positive ratings by the jury, is a further special secret to the success of the Denkwerkstatt. The 15 temporary participants live together in groups of three for the time of their assignment. This setup is unique in the digital innovation units scene, but, according to Matthias Brendel, it promotes creativity, team spirit and therefore also the success of the innovations.

The “Konzerne auf den Spuren von Startups 2019” study was performed for the third time in the first half of 2019. The evaluation compares digital innovation units of established German companies throughout the three phases of the innovation process (innovation discovery, development and scaling). Just under 50 companies took part in the study.