“With the opening of the Barcelona hub, Siemens positions Spain as the international headquarters for innovation”
The German multinational Siemens launched an innovation center in Cornellà (Barcelona) in June 2018, yet another vote of confidence in Catalonia for leading the digital transformation in the energy sector. The company uses this collaborative space for co-creation with companies, universities and startups from South-Western Europe and North Africa.
José Ramon Castro, the company’s delegate for its innovation hub in Catalonia, shares in this interview how investing in R&D is key for Siemens, as well as is promoting collaborations with local universities to keep boosting Barcelona’s pool of talent in new developing sectors.
What activities are carried out from the Siemens innovation center in Barcelona?
The Barcelona innovation center, called the MindSphere Application Center (MAC), is part of a network of 22 facilities that Siemens has around the world, all aimed at the development of digital solutions within an open operating system based in the cloud of our company, MindSphere.
Specifically, the Barcelona MAC is focused on the energy sector, along with other centers such as those we have in Shanghai and those recently opened in Berlin and in Orlando, Florida.
The goals of this hub are to provide energy sector stakeholders and Siemens experts with an environment in which to jointly innovate to create new business models and implement digital solutions that provide greater value for the customer.
It is an open collaborative space to develop new ideas for Siemens customers throughout South-Western Europe and North Africa. It is equipped with the latest digital technology and encourages co-creation with companies, universities and start-ups in an environment conducive to innovation.
Why was Barcelona chosen for the location of the center?
The relationship between Siemens and Barcelona goes back more than a century, specifically dating back to 1910 when the Cornellà railway components factory was opened. Currently, it is one of our centers of reference that has allowed us to innovate and stay at the forefront of technology in the railway sector.
Furthermore, we have a strategic center for the production of electrical equipment in Rubí. This long-lasting and positive relationship means Barcelona is in the perfect position to act as an ideal location for our new MAC.
In addition, the city is one of Europe’s largest creation and innovation centers. Thanks to the opening of this hub, Siemens positions Spain as the international headquarters for innovation.
Another reason why we chose this city is because of the talent available in it. We believe that people are an essential part of the digital revolution and for the attraction of businesses to cities. Our innovation center also promotes the company-university relationship in the fields of digital innovation to improve competitiveness.
Last October we signed a collaboration agreement with the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), with the aim of boosting innovation and research activities in the field of data analysis and artificial intelligence in the energy sector. This agreement also seeks to promote research and collaboration between the company and the University in this field.
What strengths would you highlight in the Catalan ICT sector?
The city has a large ecosystem of startup companies, first-class R&D laboratories, international clients and attracts regional and international talent. In addition, Catalonia has some of the best universities in Spain in terms of innovation in different disciplines.
What are the center's plans for growth in the coming years?
The MAC center in Barcelona is part of our strategy to assist Spanish companies on their path to digitalization. Siemens is one of the first industrial companies firmly committed to digitization in all its divisions and has made a strategic move to position itself as one of the leading software companies in the world. In fact, the company recently expanded its staff of experts to more than 24,000 software engineers and we have 43,400 employees around the world working in R&D.
The goal of the hub in the short and medium term is to continue advancing even further in our innovation process. In the 2018 fiscal year, we invested 5,600 million euros in innovation and we expect to invest 5,700 million euros in 2019, representing a growth of approximately 40% since 2014. This has been possible thanks to Siemens' permanent commitment to innovation, as can be seen with the opening of this center. Our investment in R&D has not stopped growing because we know it is key to be able to advance towards the future.
What have been the overall results of Siemens in 2018? What strategic commitments is the group making for the future?
Siemens closed its 2018 fiscal year, which goes from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018, with a 2% increase in revenue, up to 83,044 million euros and a slight increase in net profit (+0.42 %) to 6,120 million.
In the 2019 fiscal year, the foundations will be laid for the execution of our Vision 2020 + strategy. Its main objective is to offer the group's individual companies significantly greater business freedom, under the Siemens brand, in order to sharpen their focus in their respective markets.
The plans also foresee the strengthening of the company's growth portfolio through investments in new developing sectors, such as IoT services, distributed energy management or infrastructure solutions for electric mobility.
How can Siemens help the digital transformation in Catalonia?
Catalan companies that have not yet done so must urgently address digital transformation so as not to be left behind in such key sectors as Food & Beverage. Aware of this, Siemens recently held the Digital Factory in the Food and Beverage Industry event in Barcelona with the aim of raising awareness on the importance of Industry 4.0 and digital transformation.
Over recent years, the company has invested more than 10,000 million euros in incorporating knowledge. Thanks to this, we can offer small and medium-sized companies an integral consultancy service through which digital maturity in food factories is evaluated. Thus, after carrying out an exhaustive analysis of the situation of the companies, a report is generated with clients where they can check their digitization level.
Based on this, one can establish investment priorities to improve the results of your business in such strategic aspects as the paperless factory, the reduction of time to market (delivery time to the product market), the reduction in costs or the flexibility of processes to be able to deliver a customized product to the consumer.