11. March 2019
Viega has been one of the most important technology pioneers in the area of installation technology for 120 years. The company has displayed rapid growth during that time and currently employs more than 4,500 employees at 10 locations around the globe – but it has always remained a rock solid family business that has held true to its traditions. Viega is an enrolled member in two centers on RWTH Aachen Campus: the INC Invention Center and the BIM Center Aachen. Find out why and how Viega is involved on RWTH Aachen Campus in our interview with Dr. Michael Ottersbach, Project Lead F&E Corporate Technology at Viega. 

Viega has been a premium member of the INC Invention Center on RWTH Aachen Campus since 2015. How are you using this platform? And how many employees are now working on site?

Viega has been cooperating closely with various Aachen-based institutes and research partners for almost 10 years now. Becoming a member of the Invention Center in 2015 consolidated that partnership. We have been involved in a lively knowledge exchange with the experts in the center on the topic of current developments in the area of technology and innovation management ever since. We have also completed a number of studies in collaboration with the INC, which have created the foundations of new product developments at our company. We now also have a physical presence of two offices on the campus since 2017, which allow us to be even closer to the institutes and to intensify exchange. This location is currently still under development, so that we are using student temp workers and bilateral projects in conjunction with development partners on site. A second permanent team member will be added during the first quarter of 2019.

In addition to your enrollment in the INC Invention Center, you have been active in the BIM Center Aachen since 2018 as well. What motivated you to join two centers instead of just one?

We recognized the fact that a center enrollment allows significantly faster and more effective access to relevant topics than it would be possible without such a membership. Since Viega’s motto has always been “Connected in quality” and we want to continue to hold a leadership position in our sector, it was simply the next logical step to enroll in the BIM Center Aachen as well. Over the coming years, we expect much innovation in this specific topic area, which will further our success and consolidate our market position.

What mid to long-term advantages do you see in your center cooperations?

We understand that future innovations will depend largely on joint ventures with external partners and across and beyond networks. RWTH Aachen Campus has some very good examples to show to that end. We have made it our goal in the mid and long-term to forge significantly stronger networks with such partners in an effort to make a name for Viega beyond our core competence of installation and sanitary technology. We hope to create a cross-functional network in which we will ‘only’ have to tie together, test and finally implement new ideas. And in the long term, of course, we want to bring these innovations to the market jointly as well. The centers offer the huge advantage that they share our thinking and act as key holders to the network.

What has been your highlight in this cooperation you are most pleased about?

We developed new ideas for future products, services and also some new business models in a big workshop on the topic of “The future of the construction industry” last year. Some very innovative new ideas came to be through the collaboration of external partners, which we had contacted via the centers. None of that would have been possible without our presence in Aachen and our center enrollments. This success has encouraged us to perpetuate and further expand this type of open innovation in Aachen.

What do your customers think about your enrollment on RWTH Aachen Campus?

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive to date. I have also noticed that customers have become much more eager to continue and extend their exchanges with us. Viega’s visibility in Aachen has also significantly increased by our center enrollments. Many partners hope that a presence on the campus will create a new interface point for ideas, which ideally can also be implemented right here. Personally, I think there is no better place for that than RWTH Aachen Campus. Now we have to think about implementing all these ideas with still more efficiency and also faster. Beyond that, critical voices have been few and far between. To the contrary: many of our partners are surprised that we have taken this step, considering we are a Sauerland-based company.

What would be your advice for companies in your sector that have not yet enrolled?

The coming years will bring significant change to our sector. A far-reaching network of many partners will be needed for companies to be able to keep up with this change and possibly even help to shape it. I think that RWTH Aachen Campus and the center and cluster approach creates the perfect environment for defining these changes ahead of time. I would recommend any company to seriously consider the benefits of enrollment. We feel that this has definitely been a positive step for us and there will be more to follow – also in Aachen.