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Innovation Center: New Forms of Collaboration

Since mid-March, a new venue has been available for the development of new ideas: We are talking about the Roche Diabetes Care Innovation Center on the company premises at the Mannheim site. In an interview with David Krey, Senior Innovation Lead, we learned what can be done there and why an Innovation Center has been established. Together with his colleague, he leads and manages the new habitat, coordinates and trains teams in new methods and is thus one of the drivers of innovation and culture at Roche Diabetes Care. He also offers workshops and formats on technology and business-related topics to further develop creative ideas and solutions for people with diabetes.

David, what actually makes the Innovation Center so special?

I think the Innovation Center reflects a new mindset through the way it is run, through the look, through the energy and personal touch that we as a team have brought to it. We have identified and implemented things here that tie in with what we see in many other places, both internally at Roche and externally. We have accomplished something here as a team that is already meeting with great approval. I am very pleased that the habitat is in great demand. The feedback we are getting is extremely positive. Certainly there are always points that we can improve. We are very happy about this feedback, because it is the only way we can continue to develop.

The Innovation Center looks completely different from a normal office workplace. What have you dreamed up?

With the Innovation Center, we wanted to create a home for open interaction and collaboration, an environment where people like to come together and think in new ways. At the same time, the employees should feel comfortable in the working environment and be inspired to new ideas. We have created a special atmosphere in the Innovation Center that ideally supports new forms of cooperation. The areas offer different functionalities and also differ visually: The Collaboration Zone with its homey wooden table invites the exchange of ideas and, in the Arena, employees can pitch their topics and projects or listen to talks, also virtually. The Innovation Cubes are closed rooms with whiteboards, flipcharts, monitors and moderation cases to support a flexible and agile way of working. We have also created a Customer Interaction Lab, where we can enhance patient contact and conduct confidential discussions in a different setup than in an office. 

To what extent have other companies supported your project?

Contact to companies such as the agricultural machinery manufacturer Claas was established via an innovation network. Claas employees invited us to visit their Innovation Center and were very open and cooperative. This experience resonated in our minds for a very long time. It was a formative event for us, which gave us exciting insights and a good exchange. Subsequently, we also established contact to the SAP AppHaus as well as to companies like the Breidenbach-Studios or the Co-Working Space Schlachthof Karlsruhe. The start-up scene in Mannheim and projects such as the Medical Technology Campus also provide an incredible amount of scope for cooperation with start-ups, innovations and initiatives.

Where did you get the idea and how did you initiate the whole thing?

On the one hand, the impetus came from our employees in Research & Development (R&D), who signaled to us that we need a habitat for innovation. On the other hand, in March of last year, roughly at the same time as the innovation theme, an initiative was launched in R&D, which I had the honor of heading. In the process, we realized that we can further improve and expand our innovation capabilities if we succeed in building a new culture of innovation at Roche Diabetes Care, which forms the basis for more innovation. With ‘Design Thinking’ we have jointly developed approaches to solutions and conducted more than 50 interviews with employees and managers, including the Diabetes Care Leadership Team. The feedback was clear: We need an innovation habitat that offers us different perspectives and enables us to think in new, forward-looking ways, while at the same time being a contact point for different, creative methods of ideation and innovation and promoting virtual collaboration, collaboration and networking with one another, including external partners. As a team, we then worked step by step on the implementation and now a space for innovation has been created, which inspires and invites to think differently.

In summary: What added value does the Innovation Center offer not only for Roche Diabetes Care employees, but also beyond?

It is the starting point for much more: Communication and an exchange that would perhaps never have taken place elsewhere. Our guiding principle here was: ‘If I want to open new doors, I have to explore new paths.’ We think we have succeeded here. The new habitat gives us the opportunity to establish a new culture of innovation within the company and to find new solutions for our patients.

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