Merging technologies that really matter with disruptive business model innovations
Cross-divisional collaboration for new innovations is of utmost importance for ensuring the strength of Bosch’s development over the long term. Bosch Corporate Research and grow platform work hand-in-hand to combine new technologies with disruptive business models.
Searching for answers is fundamental to what we do – and has been an integral component of Bosch’s DNA for more than 130 years. We firmly believe that research, as a constant race to develop new technologies, is not an end in itself but something that makes a tangible contribution to improving the quality of people’s lives. This belief is reflected in the “Invented for life” compass that appears on our products.
However, this compass does not follow a predefined pattern but instead evolves in a process of agile innovation and development with the user at the center. Without research and exploration, there can be no progress. And without progress, we cannot improve the quality of people’s lives.
Facing challenges to success today
It is now no longer enough to focus on incremental optimization of core businesses for which mastery has been achieved. Today, companies such as Bosch find themselves on what is known as an “exploit-explore continuum.” This situation is addressed by the Innovator’s Dilemma, in which it becomes clear that companies that want to remain successful over the long term face organizational challenges. That is because incremental and disruptive innovation is nearly impossible in just one organizational unit. While exploiting and optimizing the existing core business, novel solutions and markets must be explored to stay competitive and cope with the dynamic transformation of today’s business world.
Exploring technologies and new business models at Bosch
To succeed today, an adaptable organizational design is of utmost importance. This means that corporations must set up additional and separate innovation entities in parallel with their existing core business divisions and corporate research operations. Growth targets can only be achieved by researching technologies and exploring new markets with appropriate business models. This is where grow platform, as the home of Bosch intrapreneurs, comes into play.
As an autonomous legal entity, it specifically focuses on developing new businesses in the explore space. That means that on the exploit-explore continuum, there is a strategic allocation between Bosch business units, Bosch Corporate Research, and grow platform. With this organizational arrangement and innovation strategy, we aim to ensure the strength of our company’s development by rolling out, maintaining, and improving business innovations invented for life.
To achieve this goal, Bosch is venturing into areas of high uncertainty, both in regard to technology and business models. To remain competitive in their respective areas, our business divisions are focusing on the core business in which they have achieved mastery. Beyond this, we are actively shaping the future with our great innovation strength, which is why Bosch has established additional innovation units.
“Bosch needs groundbreaking innovations. We must be measured by the market success of our ideas. Many products will be created with the help of artificial intelligence and will generate data throughout their life cycle. In turn, we can leverage AI and improve these products. This means that the connection between product innovations and business models is growing closer, and they will need to be developed together from the beginning. We need to bring together people with different competencies, backgrounds, and views. It’s also important to exchange ideas with the divisions, create an inspiring working environment, and have a clear understanding of the problem that you want to solve,” says Thomas Kropf, Head of Bosch Corporate Research and Advance Development.
Corporate Research aims to generate impactful innovation and a strong patent portfolio. It also seeks to further consolidate Bosch’s credibility as a global high-tech player and to facilitate Bosch’s access to top talent on an international scale. Driven by our “Invented for life” compass, Corporate Research makes it possible for Bosch to find groundbreaking solutions to meaningful problems. That which is invented within Bosch Research always has the improvement of quality of life as its aim. The focus is therefore on “research that really matters.” Through this value creation, ideas at Bosch become real solutions, which fosters technological progress in all our business units: Mobility Solutions, Energy & Building Technology, Industrial Technology, and Consumer Goods.
While the Corporate Research and Advance Development department focuses on researching and further developing promising new technologies, grow platform, known as the home of Bosch intrapreneurs and organizationally linked to Bosch Corporate Research, seeks to foster the development of new business innovations and markets. In this context, it is possible to integrate existing and researched technologies even more deliberately into new business models and innovative solutions in order to generate more and more added value for our customers.
Solving the innovator's dilemma of Bosch business areas
Strategic positioning of grow platform in Bosch's Exploit-Explore landscape
To remain successful in the future, companies need to research both technologies and new business models. Learn more where grow platform is positioned and how it helps internal business areas to focus on existing core businesses:
Enabling global and seamless access to Bosch R&D expertise and technologies
“If Bosch only knew what Bosch knows” is a familiar saying among Bosch employees.
Our immense internal expertise is especially valuable for projects in the exploration space that has just been brought into being. It enables accelerated development and release of products in comparison with the average independent venture. After all, one of the core reasons for inside-out innovation is the idea of leveraging the assets of the mother company – such as its brand and expertise, of course. The cooperation of grow platform with Bosch Corporate Research is successful, as numerous examples of the results of our collaboration demonstrate. From our perspective, this is a two-way street. Bosch Corporate Research contributes expertise and technology to the existing grow platform portfolio teams, but grow platform also helps the Corporate Research department to fully capitalize on the results of the research conducted.
The more precise question is how grow platform knows what Corporate Research is capable of. The answer, which is not atypical for Bosch, is networking. Many former employees in the field of R&D work at grow platform, like current CTO Georg Stellmann. He is convinced that Corporate Research results are still underutilized within Bosch and aims to change that – starting with innovation projects funded by grow platform but ultimately culminating in contributions to the overall success of Bosch.
Deep Dive: the development of Bosch InSite
Close cooperation between the grow platform portfolio team and Bosch Corporate Research was the key prerequisite for the success of Bosch InSite: Bosch Corporate Research developed all technology, including LiDAR, image stitching, and the SLAM algorithm, and the Bosch Power Tools division provided technical expertise and resources to support the necessary hardware testing.
Bosch InSite is an innovative hardware and software solution for measuring, comparing, and tracking project data on construction sites
A backpack equipped with a panoramic camera and sensors captures data on-site, which is then processed on a SaaS platform and delivered to users using a front-end application. This means that all relevant project data can be accessed and monitored at all times and from anywhere.
Constant exchange between the team and Group
If customers have special requirements for construction process data, the project team coordinates with colleagues from Corporate Research, with tasks jointly determined and distributed to the respective experts. When new challenges arise, the hub leader in China or grow platform are always ready to support the InSite team and provide any resources necessary. The project team is also constantly informed about the latest findings in technology research or potential business partnerships.
Mature cutting-edge technology for new market
The continuous collaboration of the portfolio team, Corporate Research, and grow platform forms the basis for the development of a marketable innovative product that provides added value to customers. For Bosch intrapreneurs, this collaboration primarily represents a cost advantage: Instead of developing technologies from scratch, an existing cutting-edge Bosch technology is used to enter a new market, significantly reducing the R&D cycle and required investment.
The team also benefits from the Bosch Group’s top-tier reputation: While many potential customers cannot accurately assess the specific product benefits of InSite, such as return on investment (ROI), they are still willing to give it a try since it is a product developed by Bosch.
“When we tell people about the support the project team gets from grow platform, they often say that many large companies develop innovations, but the way that Bosch does it in such a transparent and efficient manner is amazing!”
Deep Dive: the development of the ROKIT Locator
Launched as “Intralogistic Robotics” at grow platform, the ROKIT Locator is now a key element of Bosch Rexroth’s product portfolio. The basic technology (in the form of the SLAM algorithm) traces its origins to Bosch Corporate Research and was further developed at grow platform into a marketable and customer-oriented product.
The Bosch Rexroth ROKIT Locator is a software component that reliably determines the position and orientation of e.g. mobile robots or forklifts.
A laser sensor and an intelligent algorithm are used to automatically detect and map the vehicle’s surroundings, allowing storage locations to be unambiguously located and accessed and making the use of mobile robots even more flexible and user-friendly.
Transforming technical innovation into customer value
When Bosch’s innovative robot technology was originally developed, it lacked an appropriate business model as well as necessary resources. The founding of grow platform opened up completely new possibilities for turning a technological advancement into a product with real customer benefits. Almost all of the employees who joined the Intralogistic Robotics Team at the time had come from departments and teams in Corporate Research, giving the new venture everything it needed for close collaboration characterized by trust.
Lean structures and open communication
Whether face-to-face meetings, transparent communication or direct collaboration on-site, the cooperation between Bosch intrapreneurs and Corporate Research was straightforward and without any organizational hurdles right from the start. grow platform offered the ideal framework for developing an innovative business model for an innovative technology. After the ROKIT Locator was integrated into the Bosch unit's portfolio, the members of the project team were taken over by Bosch Rexroth at the beginning of 2022.
“The development of the ROKIT Locator is a perfect example of how innovative research can be transformed into a market-oriented and profitable business through cross-divisional collaboration. With grow platform as a key driver, we have successfully developed and merged technology and business model in a user-centric and market-based manner and finally integrated them into the business area of Bosch Rexroth.”