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Innovation lab explores IoT business models

Think tank develops new applications and business fields

The Bosch Group and the University of St. Gallen (HSG) have officially put the innovative “Bosch Internet of Things Lab: a collaboration between HSG and Bosch” into operation – with Benedikt Würth, Minister for Economic Affairs of the Canton of St. Gallen, in attendance.
The think tank’s mission is to find and test business models for the Internet of Things (IoT). In addition, researchers will be working to develop internet-based products and services. There are currently five graduate students working with Dr. Markus Weinberger at the innovation lab’s research facility on campus. By 2013, there will be ten HSG and Bosch employees working at the facility. “The Internet of Things will revolutionize great swathes of the economy in the coming years. We see big growth potential for Bosch in this revolution, and we want the innovative work carried out in St. Gallen to help us tap this potential,” said Dr. Siegfried Dais, deputy chairman of the Bosch board of management.

An innovative format

“This initiative by the global giant Bosch validates our strategy of positioning St. Gallen internationally as a center of technology and learning. I’m delighted that Bosch has chosen St. Gallen as the location for this lab,” emphasized Minister for Economic Affairs Würth. “The foundation of the Bosch innovation lab is an important milestone for HSG,” explained Dr. Thomas Bieger, president of the University of St. Gallen. “The lab’s innovative format underscores the practice and technology orientation of our university.” Dr. Elgar Fleisch, the scientific head of the Bosch IoT Lab and director of the Institute for Technology Management (ITEM-HSG), said: “For more than ten years we’ve been dealing with the fusion of the digital and real worlds. The collaboration with Bosch enables and commits us to strive for an even more creative and yet responsible approach to new information technologies for the benefit of economy and society.”

The first major areas of research include connected mobility and the smart connectivity of buildings. Bosch Software Innovations GmbH, the Bosch Group’s software and systems house, will provide operational support to the think tank, allowing the researchers to draw on this reservoir of expertise.

Bicycles as mobile advertising spaces

Paul Rigger and Thomas von Bomhard are working on a project to use bicycles as mobile advertising spaces. Screens are mounted on the sides of bicycles and can be controlled over the internet. This makes it possible, for instance, to change an ad to a message that is especially interesting for the neighborhood a cyclist is in. Kristina Flüchter is also working on a bicycle-related topic: investigating the commercial and technical requirements for running a fleet of e-bikes. She is working on the assumption that the organizations that run hotels, leisure facilities, transport services, etc. in tourism regions might be interested in jointly operating an e-bike program.

Connected buildings: priority research area

The second major area of research, connected buildings, also allows researchers to draw on the expertise of a range of Bosch business areas, including Bosch Solar Energy (for energy supply), Bosch Thermotechnology (for heating and heat pumps), Bosch Security Systems (for data protection and access control), Bosch Healthcare (for telemedicine and emergency call systems), Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte (for household appliances), Bosch Software Innovations, and Bosch Energy and Building Systems (for energy management). Dominic Wörner is working on a smart heating control system whose features include the ability to process weather forecasts from the internet. Markus Köhler is also working on the connectivity of buildings. Both are looking into the question of how to actively involve the owners or users of a building in using important resources such as electricity and water more sparingly.

Combination of scientific research and practical applications

The Bosch IoT Lab makes use of a unique combination of scientific research, practical applications, business administration, and technology management. HSG’s technology management department is currently collaborating with 50 different companies on topics related to the Internet of Things. “We are working on problems from the world of business for the world of business,” explained Prof. Fleisch, who emphasized: “The fact that we’re collaborating with a large number of different companies and that the major topics are not company-specific ensures that there is absolute scientific freedom of inquiry.” The HSG professor is researching the economic impacts and infrastructures of ubiquitous computer use, and he is a co-founder of several university spin-offs. He also shares his know-how at ETH Zurich.

Bosch active in Switzerland since 1920

Bosch has had a presence in Switzerland since 1920 through companies such as Robert Bosch AG, Scintilla AG, Bosch Rexroth Schweiz AG, Buderus Heiztechnik AG, Bosch Packaging Systems AG, and sia Abrasives Industries AG. Bosch Group companies in Switzerland employ some 3,400 people and generated sales of around 1.4 billion Swiss francs (1.2 billion euros) in 2011.