ST 005-12 Lohr, 2012-04-23

Growth Markets Need Innovations


Dr. Karl Tragl

Dr. Karl Tragl, Chairman of the Executive Board of Bosch Rexroth AG

At first sight it's disquieting news for established industrial nations but on closer inspection, opportunities become apparent: Emerging nations and aspiring industrial nations are increasingly investing in patents and innovations. This trend is particularly prevalent in China. Around 30 years ago, the People's Republic could not lay claim to a single patented invention. Nowadays, however, approximately 300,000 patent applications are filed in the country each year, and as such it is thought that China will become the world leader in terms of patent applications in 2011 — ahead of Japan and the USA.

The rising number of patent applications not only points to China's growing economic strength, but also illustrates the country's increasing capacity for innovation. "In China, it's becoming less and less about just reproducing what has come before. The aim is to actually outstrip the traditional industrial nations, and that is in terms of innovations too," says Dr. Karl Tragl, Chairman of the Executive Board of Bosch Rexroth AG. As a result, many mechanical engineers believe that within just a few years, a large proportion of their competitors will come from the BRIC countries.

However, this development also provides new opportunities: German manufacturers can play their part in quenching the thirst for innovation seen in the growth markets, and reap the benefits of this new trend within the context of global value-adding activities.

"In China, the highest growth rates in the field of mechanical engineering are generated by machines that carry out relatively simple processes on the same components in large volumes," Tragl continues. Existing control solutions are either too expensive, too complex or not accurate enough to meet these requirements. "For this reason, we develop solutions for these markets locally, based on platforms developed in Germany, to create products adapted to specific regions," Tragl explains.

"It would be impossible for us to develop such products solely from within Germany while ensuring they suit the needs of Chinese customers," says Tragl. "At the same time, Chinese developers would not be able to avail themselves of all the benefits of our existing platform solutions if it weren't for their colleagues in Germany. Therefore, we have pooled our capacity for innovation, and can gain from the results together with local businesses."

Rexroth is the best example of how this strategy also helps to safeguard jobs in Germany: While sales in Germany have remained at a constant level for several years, the number of people employed in the country has increased significantly with growing sales volumes in global business.

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