The late British philosopher Alan Watts once said, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Well we’ve taken the plunge, we’re moving with that change and we’ve certainly been dancing to the beat.
But before we dig in to all that, we’d like to introduce ourselves. Not only are we new to Medium; we’re new to the world. But although we may be a totally new brand, we’re already steeped in entrepreneurial experience.
In 1847, Werner von Siemens founded his company in a backyard in Berlin. One hundred seventy years later, Siemens is now synonymous with some of the most disruptive technologies and innovations to have emerged during that era. But fast-forward another 170 years — or even 50 years — from now and where will our company be? There’s really no way of telling. The only thing we can say for certain is that Siemens needs to find new ways of experimenting and developing ideas if it’s going to keep pace with the current acceleration of innovation. In other words, it needs to open up. And so, next47 was born.
next47 is an independent unit designed to turn transformational ideas into global enterprises. We want to redefine collaboration with start-ups and, in doing so, redefine entire industries. The name next47 references the past and makes a promise for the future: to carry the aspirational spirit of Werner von Siemens into the next generation of groundbreaking technologies.
Why did we need to found next47? And why now? Quite simply, we didn’t want to rest on our laurels. Innovators have always challenged the status quo. Siemens has a successful history as a big global player, but it’s also humble enough to know it needs to move with the times. The fact is that the areas that drive the core sectors of the Siemens business — Electrification, Digitalization and Automation — have changed in the digital age. Rapid prototyping, decentralized networks and clusters, crowdsourcing and open knowledge exchange are just a few aspects of this new reality.
next47 was created with the realization that the future rests with intelligent, forward-thinking people. These people have big ideas, yet acknowledge that even these often need a boost — and next47 can provide it.
Over the last 20 years, Siemens has partnered with more than 20 start-ups each year and invested more than €800 million across 180 different ventures to date. Not to mention the dozen spin-off start-ups.
Everyone is talking about the €1 billion that we plan to invest over the next five years. But it’s not about the money. We are poised to jump-start innovation that will shape the future of our industries: Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Machines, Connected (E-)Mobility, Distributed Electrification and Blockchain Applications.
In bringing together the best bits of both worlds, next47 is unique. Siemens is a large company, and its size can sometimes slow things down. Meanwhile, start-up culture is fast, creative and disruptive. next47 can provide that much-needed dynamism through its start-ups, but it can also tap into the strengths of a large corporation: a global customer base, credibility, extensive experience, technical skills and more. Together, we’re free to explore, experiment and spur disruptive ideas outside of Siemens’ regular business — without the organizational restrictions of a group.
In short, we have the flexibility of a start-up that makes independent investment decisions paired with the very best resources of the Siemens ecosystem. That includes access to markets, customers and data in more than 200 countries, more than 32,000 specialists in global R&D, and a team of investors and venture capitalists. Entrepreneurs and fast-growing companies can also take advantage of worldwide prototyping and manufacturing capabilities, a large installed base and intimate customer knowledge. When it comes to location, we have offices in some of the world’s most thriving innovation hotspots: Berkeley, Palo Alto, Boston, Munich, Tel Aviv, Shanghai and Beijing. Different time zones, different cultures, but one goal: to bring ideas to life.
We want to see young start-ups commercialize and mature start-ups grow into global players.
We’re looking for innovative ideas that have the potential to shape the future of Electrification, Automation and Digitalization — our main growth segments. We collaborate in various forms: As a partner to bring your idea to life. As a mentor for your growing startup. Or as an investor to help transform your company into a global enterprise. We want to challenge the status quo; shift paradigms and shape industries. That’s next47.
Author Gareth Watson