Design and implementation of the MTU Innovation Engine

Wolfgang Pichler


With the help of the methodological and content-related support provided by 3DSE, we have developed a unique innovation management system that is aligned in the best possible way with our requirements at MTU.


Wolfgang Pichler, Head of Corporate Strategy,

MTU Aero Engines AG is the leading jet engine manufacturer in Germany. The company, which has more than 10,000 employees, is active around the globe. MTU had the most successful year in the company’s history in 2018, setting new records for sales and earnings. To maintain this success and ensure its competitiveness over the long term, MTU now faces the challenge of further expanding its core business in the form of innovative products, processes, services, and business models. “Our objective is to continue on our course of strong growth in the future.” says Wolfgang Pichler, Head of Corporate Strategy at MTU “We’re now being supported in our efforts by our Innovation Engine.”

To help address the above-mentioned challenge, 3DSE provided support for methods and content during the development of the new MTU innovation management system, which is known as the MTU Innovation Engine. The incorporation of an MTU team featuring members from various departments and sites ensured that the company’s internal areas of expertise will also be optimally linked with one another in the future, and that innovation management activities will be adapted to the requirements of MTU. Here, the multitude of concepts for the new innovation management system was developed using methods that will now be utilized in the MTU Innovation Engine itself.

Just as an engine drives a component or system by repeatedly carrying out the same processes, the concept ultimately selected for the MTU Innovation Engine is also subject to a defined and structured process. This process consists of three stages: awareness, ideation, and prototyping.

In the “awareness stage,” relevant external trends and radical ideas are identified at an early stage and then utilized in order to drive innovation forward even faster and more flexibly. To this end, internal and external scouts continuously analyze MTU and the outside world in order to identify new trends, technologies, ideas, and startups. Each year, these scouting efforts are used to define innovation fields that enable the company to focus on those topics that can provide MTU with a long-term competitive advantage.
In the “ideation stage,” ideas are gathered for the selected innovation fields using an internal “Ideation Challenges” program that allows employees to submit their ideas. The best ideas are then presented in a pitch event, after which interdisciplinary teams get together in “Innovation Cells” to further develop the ideas into practical implementation options.
In the “prototyping stage,” mock-ups and demonstrations are rapidly developed to quickly validate the options in brief iteration cycles. If possible, the innovative product concepts, services, business models or processes are then made ready for series production or series application or else incorporated into other internal development processes with the goal of applying them at some point.

To this end, the Innovation Engine is designed in a manner that enables it to be adapted to changing internal requirements and conditions. Following the establishment of the Innovation Engine, it can be scaled in size as required by changing the number of innovation fields and projects. It is also possible to add further features to the Innovation Engine, such as venture capital funding or open innovation approaches.

The MTU Innovation Engine is managed by an “Inno Team” that guarantees smooth operation, integration into MTU and effective communication. This team also ensures that the right internal disciplines are brought together and that financial and personnel resources are bundled and channeled into high-priority innovation fields. A further desired effect of the MTU Innovation Engine involves the fact that it strengthens the culture of innovation, supports internal and external cooperation, and tests new work methods and organizational forms. In doing so, all MTU employees are incorporated into the associated processes.

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