The German capital city of Berlin will be playing host to a very special kind of summit meeting on 5 July this year when the country’s most innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) gather for an awards ceremony. Project mentor Ranga Yogeshwar will be present-ing them with the compamedia Top 100 prize for innovation at the city’s Axel Springer Passage centre. This is the 20th year that compamedia’s accolade for innovation has been awarded and HAP GmbH Dresden is among the winners.

HAP GmbH Dresden impressed the judges with its climate of innovation and history of success: the manufacturer of machines for the microchip industry is a market leader, both in Germany and globally. “Our location is a distinct advantage,” says managing director Dr Steffen Pollack. The company is situated in the middle of ‘Silicon Saxony’, an area with a cluster of micro-electronics firms. “We’re close to our biggest customers and some excellent research institutes,” says Dr Pollack, “so our fifty employees are often the first people anywhere in the world to devise a particular solution.”

HAP has formed a close development partnership with three global players. These customers tell HAP what their requirements are, which enables it to look at whether these requirements point to a potentially profitable gap in the global market. If so, development can begin. In working with customers, the Dresden firm has developed some highly innovative robotics systems. For the future, they are planning to work on solutions for the booming nano-technology market.

In their search for new ideas – a process in which senior management is ac-tively involved – the so-called ‘morphological box’ is brought into play. This is a creativity tool in which those involved ‘deconstruct’ a complex problem and work up various solutions. The developers can then present their results at industry conferences. A particular highlight is the annual ‘innovationsforum for automation’ organised by DFAC (Dresden Fab Automation Cluster), where developers can present HAP’s findings to customers in front of an international audience. “All this contributes to the climate of innovation,” says Pollack.

The Top 100 award is based on academic research into the firms under con-sideration conducted by Professor Nikolaus Franke and his team from the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Eco-nomics and Business. This year these innovation experts have examined a total of 245 companies. The findings of this research are made available to the participating firms in the form of a benchmarking report that reveals their potential and provides practical tips for immediate application. “This success is the result of a team effort between senior management and colleagues,” says Pollack. “It has shown us that we are going in the right direction. We will now use the results of this survey to further refine our innovations management.”

In addition to HAP Dresden, a further 102 companies in three different size categories received the Top 100 seal of quality. They include 51 German market leaders and 21 global market leaders. Roughly two-thirds of these firms are family-owned businesses. All of these companies together generat-ed total revenue of approximately €13.5 billion in 2012. The Top 100 leading innovators reinvested around 10 per cent of this revenue directly in research and development, whereas German small and medium-sized enterprises in aggregate spent only 1.4 per cent on R&D. Consequently, the award-winning firms are more successful: they generate 42.6 per cent of their revenue from products and services that they have only brought to market in the last three years, while the corresponding figure for German SMEs as a whole is just 8.9 per cent. This has meant that 86 of the Top 100 firms (83.5 per cent) have generated growth that has outperformed the respective industry average – by almost 15 percentage points on average – over the past three years.