Festo Education Fund recognized for its role in promoting young talent

Ranga Yogeshwar honours the "Top 100" most innovative SMEs
Ranga Yogeshwar (left) handed  the Top 100-Award to Prof. Dr. Peter Speck, Head of the Festo Education Fund. (PresseBox) (Esslingen, ) They boast outstanding inventive talent, exemplary innovation processes and are successfully translating ideas into market success - that's why they are Germany's most innovative SMEs. On 22 June in Friedrichshafen, Ranga Yogeshwar presented the "Top 100" award to the winning SMEs, and the Festo Education Fund from Esslingen will be one of them.

The Festo Education Fund uses unconventional marketing ideas, an extensive network and structured processes in pursuit of its strategic objective - giving young people the opportunity to successfully complete their studies. The fund provides financial assistance, professional training and access to a network of industry and academic contacts. The fund is set up as an intergenerational contract, which means that current students are financed by former graduates. The students also pass on their expertise to the next generation through project work.

The expression "Yesterday is better than today" describes the philosophy at Festo and fast response times are one of the keys to the company's success. Prof. Dr. Speck, who heads the Education Fund, has no time for delays or procrastination. Ideas are not tested for weeks on end, but are instead implemented as quickly as possible - ideally without any effect on quality and without losing sight of the overall strategy or the ability to review its success. The coffee cups idea illustrates how this approach works. When trying to come up with ways of raising awareness of the Education Fund among students, someone suggested the university cafeteria. Coffee cups were printed with the core message of the Education Fund and its Internet address, and distributed in the cafeteria. The success of this idea could then be measured based on the number of hits the website received. If a promotion like the one used in this test case goes well, there's no reason why it can't be expanded to other universities. "In this type of campaign the time to market is well under two months," explains Prof. Speck, thus proving his motto "Actions, not words".

Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Franke and his team from the Vienna University of Economics and Business put the innovation management expertise of 281 SMEs to the test. The best performers will receive the "Top 100" award. Prof. Dr. Speck from Festo is delighted at the prospect of receiving such an accolade and praises the efforts of his team: "This is a great honour for our network, especially for the engagement of our network companies and universities. Enthusiasm and hard work are our number one innovation factor - and not just in the work that we do in the Education Fund. We have also established processes that are designed to foster creativity in a productive way. Both of these factors are what makes us successful."

Compamedia, in collaboration with the Vienna University of Economics and Business, is honouring 116 companies (maximum of 100 in each of the three categories). 51 of these are domestic market leaders and 20 are global market leaders. In 2011, all companies achieved a combined turnover of 8.1 billion euros. 100 of them grew faster than the industry average over the last three years - by 20 percentage points on average. The SMEs invested 623 million euros in research and development and in innovation processes in 2011. They plan to hire around 6,000 workers over the next three years, representing a 12% increase in the total workforce.

The Festo Education Fund The Festo Education Fund has received more than 1,600 applications to date, and almost 500 contracts have been signed with talented young individuals. In this year alone, more than 100 of these graduates will enter the job market - and the number is growing. The fund has a partner network of 30 universities and 23 companies.

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Festo AG & Co. KG
Ruiter Strasse 82
D-73734 Esslingen
Henriette Wielandt

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