“Create enthusiasm for innovation”

It has been nearly two decades that Evonik has awarded employees’ most innovative ideas. In this interview, Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) Dr. Ulrich Küsthardt explains the reasons for Evonik's internal Innovation Award and how it strengthens the team spirit.

Dr. Küsthardt, the Evonik Innovation Award has been in existence for 18 years. What prompted its establishment?

The award recognizes outstanding innovation performance by employee teams and makes these achievements visible throughout the Evonik Group. The program is intended to encourage other employees to try something new – to ultimately contribute to generating profitable growth for Evonik. The Evonik Innovation Award has become an indispensable fixture of our innovation culture.

In your opinion, what motivates the teams to participate?

The award is associated with attention and appreciation. At the traditional Christmas Colloquium, the teams have the opportunity to present their projects to an appreciative audience of almost 400 colleagues from the Evonik innovation community. That means a lot.

What were the reasons for adding the new “Business model innovation” category in 2018?

Innovations are not limited to R&D departments. In addition to innovations in the areas of products, processes, and applications, service and business model innovations play an increasingly vital role and contribute to our company’s success. The new category reflects this trend.

What is the effect of the audience selecting the winners of the final round?

I get the impression that it has further reinforced the team spirit in Evonik’s innovation community. In addition to scientific excellence, the quality of the presentation also plays an important role, which helps the teams to practice creating enthusiasm for their innovation.

Lastly, what is the role of the Chief Innovation Award, which was introduced in 2015, in this context?

This award is a special recognition of employees who make a valuable contribution to the innovation process with their individual commitment – for example through their networking activities. These people are enormously valuable for our company and I want to demonstrate to other employees that extraordinary commitment pays off.

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