Siemens to invest EUR1 billion in new startup unit

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Siemens is showing its dedication to advancing innovation through pioneering startups, with the founding of its new unit, next47. The unit will pool the existing startup activities of the company, as well as encouraging new innovations, of which decentralized electrification is one of them.

The new unit has been given an impressive budget of EUR1 billion for its first five years, which will be spread across its offices in Berkeley, Shanghai and Munich. It will be effective from October 1, as the company puts the final pieces of the unit together, and will be led by Siemens’ Chief Technology Officer Siegfried Russwurm on an acting basis.

In a press release, the company said that the unit is to “foster disruptive ideas more vigorously and to accelerate the development of new technologies.” It plans to focus on a number of innovation fields, including decentralized electrification, networked mobility, artificial intelligence and autonomous machines.

“next47 will provide the freedom to experiment and grow – without the organizational restrictions of a large company,” said Siegfried Russwurm. “Our new unit will rigorously pursue Siemens’ strategy and enable us to tap into disruptive ideas in our cores areas of electrification, automation and digitalization.”

The EUR1 billion that has been put aside for the unit is a huge vote of confidence, although the company has a history of supporting startups, investing more than EUR800 million in around 180 startups over the last 20 years. It was given the name next47 in recognition that the company itself was founded in 1847.

“Siemens itself was a startup in 1847 – founded in a rear courtyard in Berlin,” said Siemens AG President and CEO Joe Kaeser. “With next47, we’re living up to our company founder’s ideals and creating an important basis for fostering innovation as we continue Siemens’ development.”

Siemens has been making moves in the decentralized electrification market for some time now. Just last year the company teamed up with SMA Solar Technology to work together to make products for large and decentralized PV power plants.