ZEISS 2015 Innovation Days – the Team is the Star

Working on Our Digital Future – this was the theme of this year's ZEISS Innovation Days. From 16 - 18 June around 150 colleagues from all over the world met in Oberkochen to work on concrete projects for the digitization of ZEISS in 14 Innovation Camps. For the very first time, all Zeissians had the chance to participate in the Innovation Days via a Yammer group – and more than 500 used this great opportunity. President and CEO, Dr. Michael Kaschke, kicked off the event with a speech about the goals of "Go digital" at ZEISS, focusing sharply on the importance of teamwork. The Innovation Days also saw the presentation of two awards: first, the best Innovation Camp teams were elected and second, the ZEISS Innovation Awards were conferred.

  • ZEISS Innovation Days

    "The digital world enables you to respond faster to the individual requirements of customers and markets and to leverage new business opportunities more efficiently, says Nick Sohnemann, founder and Managing Director of FUTURECANDY. "So, be courageous and get down to it! The road from a good idea to a new product is getting shorter by the day – trial and error is the new formula for success. The Innovation Days show that you are on the right track."

    Live the digital spirit

    With his elevator speech, Nick Sohnemann put the goal of this year's ZEISS Innovation Days in a nutshell. Inspired by his galvanizing words, the 150 international participants got down to work in their 14 Innovation Camps. In just 48 hours, they implemented concrete projects to move ZEISS forward in the digital world.

    From microsurgery to the virtual showroom

    The 14 Innovation Camps were divided up into four categories that are important milestones for ZEISS on its road to the digital world: sharper customer focus, stronger growth, the use of digital technologies and the recruiting of digital natives. Each Innovation Camp produced a tangible result, e.g. an app for the visualization of microsurgery. Another team focused its work on a mobile application which customers can use to provide feedback on ZEISS products via smartphone. A further team drafted a three-dimensional showroom which customers can enter virtually using the ZEISS VR ONE headset. Here, they meet a service engineer who shows them how to operate a ZEISS product. A Video on employer branding at ZEISS was actually placed online during the event.  

    More than 500 Zeissians used Innohub

    For the first time in the 12-year history of the Innovation Days, it was possible for any Zeissian to take part in the event in real time. The Innohub, a combination of the Sharepoint online team collaboration platform and the Yammer internal social media platform, opened the virtual door to the event. More than 500 of the current 4,000 Yammer users at ZEISS used the opportunity to get information about the lectures and exchanged their ideas and suggestions with the Innovation Camps – more than 12,000 hits were counted in all. The internal ZEISS Editorial Team reported live about the event and published numerous reports, news, statements, images and videos on the Innohub.*

    ZEISS is stronger as a team

    At the end of the Innovation Days the 14 Innovation Camp teams presented their results in an elevator pitch – they had just two-and-a-half minutes to explain 48 hours of work. The audience voted on the best presentations. First prize was narrowly won by the team with the project "Attention & Awareness: Video with Viral Potential," incorporating an idea to attract digital natives to ZEISS in what might otherwise be seen as a slightly unusual way (video). "VR Showroom" won second prize, and "Pimp up your dashboard" came in third.

    After the award ceremony to honor the best Innovation Camps, the ZEISS Innovation Awards were officially presented. The participating teams already submitted their entries for this corporate-wide contest in May – 58 entries from nine countries were received overall, more than ever before, for the five categories. The event was hosted by Executive Board Member Dr. Hermann Gerlinger.

    "With the Innovation Days we are heralding the start of the second phase of our Winning in the Digital World initiative, and the participants showed how we are bringing this theme to life with determination and enjoyment," says President and CEO Dr. Michael Kaschke. "In just two days they have implemented digital projects –from the initial idea right up to the actual product. They have impressively shown what great potential is offered by digital technologies and how we can benefit from them at ZEISS."

    Dr. Ulrich Simon, Head of Corporate Research and Technology, and Matthias Gohl, Head of Strategic Corporate Development were impressed by the sheer energy of the participants and by the results. "Be ambassadors and take this energy and this new approach with you into your own departments," was Gohl's call to the participants.


    *Editor's note: Yammer is a proven tool for exchanging information and experience. Confidential information must not be deposited on this platform!

  • ZEISS Innovation Awards

    The Innovation Awards were presented in five categories during the ZEISS Innovation Days. Back in May, the jury comprising external scientists and economic experts selected 13 finalists from the 58 entries submitted. These presented their innovative projects in the form of posters, lectures or exhibitions.

    The categories with the winners

    Best Knowledge Sharing: projects and activities which verifiably promote the exchange of knowledge in the company. The winner is the project titled "A Balanced Solution for Nimble Pre-product Development Documentation" by Alexandre Tumlinson.

    The jury was particularly impressed by the enormous amount of dedication with which this bottom-up approach was driven through all levels of hierarchy.


    High Risk Project: projects entailing a high level of risk, but also major potential for ZEISS – even if the original project goal was not achieved. The winner here was the project "MultiSEM: the Fastest Electron Microscope in the World" by Dirk Zeidler.

    The jury was impressed by how the team addressed the technological challenges and the high applicative risk when switching from the semiconductor to the biomedical research market.


    Innovative Business Design: projects that enable a new business model or business process through an innovative approach. The winner: "Kanchenjunga," submitted by Prashant Desai.

    The jury was amazed at this intelligent means of coming into contact with patients at an early stage.


    Leading Edge Technology: technologies or product solutions taking a top position in their respective field of application around the globe. The winning team is: "IOLMaster 700 - the First Biometer with SWEPT Source OCT“ headed by Ferid Bajramovic.

    The jury sees this combination of technologies and the achieved performance as a paradigm shift.


    Short Time to Market: projects which enabled ZEISS to secure unique opportunities in the market thanks to the short times required for development and market launch. The winner here is: "VISUSCOUT 100, Mobile Retina Camera" by Martin Kraus.

    The jury chose this project because it provides a prime example of how speed can be increased and costs minimized through the assistance of a partner.


    A Special Award was presented by the jury for "Airyscan - the New Gold Standard for Confocal Microscopy" by Ingo Kleppe.


    The jury was convinced that the technology used will permanently change the face of microscopy.