Siemens creates next47 to experiment with disruptive ideas

In an effort to prepare for the future and move into digitalisation, Siemens AG is creating a unit to invest €1 billion over the course of five years on 'disruptive ideas'.

The company's new unit will be called next47 and will initially be overseen by Chief Technology Officer Siegfried Russwurm. It will start operating on 1 October in Berkeley, Shanghai and Munich. Siemens' reasoning behind creating next47 is that the new unit will help the company discover emerging technologies that are able to make use of its current business which covers a wide range of offerings including gas turbines, trains, medical scanners and a number of other products in a variety of industries.

The company's CEO, Joe Kaeser, cited an example of a time when it had the opportunity to invest in the internet protocol-based supplier of telephony and turned down the chance which in turn led to the death of its telecom sector.

In a statement Siemens CTO Russwurm sent via email on Tuesday, he said: “Next47 creates room to experiment and grow without the group's organisational constraints.” Traditionally it is more difficult for large organisations to sign off on moonshot projects since they often have a board of directors to answer to. By creating a new unit, Siemens is allowing its engineers to experiment and see if they can utilise ideas considered disruptive to innovate and possibly create new opportunities for the company as a whole.

Next47's first project will be to demonstrate whether electric propulsion systems can be adopted to replace the traditional engines currently used in aircraft.

The unit also plans on delving into a number of other topics including artificial intelligence, autonomous machines, decentralised electrification, interconnected mobility and block chain applications.

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