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From innovation project to market maturity – Miele sets up its own incubator

Gütersloh, January 19, 2023 No. 007/2023
  • New Pioneering GmbH to launch in January 2023

  • Promotion of business concepts and start-ups from within company ranks

In the quest for exciting new business models and in terms of getting them off the ground, agile start-ups often have a leading edge over large corporations. But the path from the original idea through to a market-mature business operation is generally long and strewn with obstacles. Now, Miele has founded its own incubator in order to further promote the development of innovative solutions from within the ranks of the workforce and implement them faster. With Pioneering GmbH, Miele is ensuring a creative environment in which internal start-ups can bring their ideas to fruition faster, well away from established structures.

The youngest offspring of the Gütersloh-based family company was spawned by the Smart Home sector – responsible for the development of innovative applications in the field of appliance connectivity as well as new digital business models in the same context – and the New Growth Factory business unit. The latter is responsible at Miele for growth with new business fields – for example through takeovers, stakes in start-ups or through home-grown ideas and spin-offs. Management of Pioneering GmbH is to be shared by Dr. Ina Nordsiek, Director Intrapreneurship within the business unit, and Hendrik Stegelmann, Director Digital Innovation and Products with Smart Home. Both will assume their new responsibilities alongside their existing tasks.

Particular attention will be paid to promoting business ideas which represent a strategic fit but are outside Miele's previous core business field. 'With Pioneering GmbH, we are offering administrative freedom and elbow room and a professional and inspiring environment in which we bring together the best of the start-up and the Miele world', Nordsiek explains. The advantage this brings is described by Stegelmann in the following terms: 'On the one hand, teams have the liberties and autonomy of a start-up whilst on the other being able to fall back on the support of a globally active family company'.

In more concrete terms, ideas for innovative business models, product or process solutions from the New Growth Factory or Smart Home are transferred to the new company which, after careful evaluation by Miele, are considered promising. Once there, development of the so-called Minimum Viable Product continues through to market maturity, initial discussions with potential customers and market trials under real-life conditions. If the business case overcomes this hurdle, it is either integrated at Miele or pursued further as a separate start-up founded at that point. Pioneering GmbH will commence operations during the course of January. First projects will be transferred over the coming months.


Company profile: Miele is the world's leading manufacturer of premium domestic appliances including cooking, baking and steam-cooking appliances, refrigeration products, coffee makers, dishwashers and laundry and floor care products. Their product portfolio also includes dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers for commercial use as well as washer-disinfectors and sterilisers for use in medical and laboratory applications. Founded in 1899, the company has eight production plants in Germany, one each in Austria, the Czech Republic, China, Romania and Poland as well as two production plants belonging to its Italian medical technology subsidiary Steelco. Sales in the 2021 business year amounted to around € 4.84 bn. Miele is represented with its own sales subsidiaries and via importers in almost 100 countries/regions. Throughout the world, the family-run enterprise, now in its fourth generation, employs a workforce of around 22,300, of which approx. 11,200 employees work in Germany. The company has its headquarters in Gütersloh in Westphalia.

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With Pioneering GmbH, Hendrik Stegelmann (left) and Dr. Ina Nordsiek (right) will create a creative environment for internal start-ups to realise ideas more quickly. (Photo: Miele)

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