The greenest raw material: Can software move us to a greener economy?

Yes, among others …

In May 2012, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, a green political foundation focusing on ecology, democracy, and human rights invited thought leaders from economy, academia, associations and politics to take part in the international conference “Innovations for the Ecological Turnaround”. The participants, just to mention a few, were the German Green Party, acatech, Bosch Software Innovations, TU Berlin, LMU Munich and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. The center of discussion: What is the masterplan for research, science and economy to foster ecological innovation for a green economy?

I was a panelist in the workshop “The role played by science in the transformation process for more innovations” with Jan Minx from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Impact and Marcus Franken, editor-in-chief of the German magazine ZEO2. To give you a glimpse on what Bosch Software Innovations is contributing to the masterplan, this is a super-brief summary of my messages:

Invented for Life – technology must be visionary, but real

The future holds challenges for us, for example energy and climate change, so we need rather more technology than less. “Invented for Life” is not just our Bosch motto. In order to have a positive impact on ecology, we need real-life doings, e.g. green day-to-day products for mobility, industry or households. With its system and software house Bosch Software Innovations, the Bosch Group has added one of the greenest raw materials to its tool kit: software. Software allows us, for example through the Internet of Things (IoT), not only to connect the physical with the digital world, but also to prevent hardware and construction – as our client Green Charge Networks shows with its new case study for US utilities and commercial customers.

Cooperation with academia: knowledge transfer that drives business

Bosch has a tradition of sponsoring and cooperating with the best research facilities in the world. The first donation was made by Robert Bosch in 1910 to the technical university of Stuttgart: 1 million Mark. In 2011, on the occasion of its 125 year company anniversary, Bosch allocated 50 million Euro to universities in Germany, USA, China and India. Our selection criteria are defined clearly: innovation and knowledge transfer. Just recently, we opened the Bosch Internet of Things Lab in St. Gallen with HSG – this time not to develop new technologies, but sustainable business models for eMobility, energy management and smart homes.

The human touch: “Sharing is caring” and “social entrepreneurship”

In seven league boots, Bosch has been heading towards the Internet of Things – conscious of the large impact on us, society, and systems. Many applications in different domains will be coming up and need connectivity: mobility, energy, building, industry, and health. Usually, when I speak about our IoT vision, it centers along four dimensions: Internet technology, new business models, market disruptions and people competencies.

In Berlin, Marcello Palazzi suggested interdisciplinary worldwide learning platforms to unleash the creativity and aspiration for nature. This sounds like Open Source in the ecological movement: button-up instead of top-down. My key take away for energy and the ecological turnaround from the event was that software is important, but people’s creativity and their energy are the most powerful forces. Why? Only with open minds, we can break up crusted structures and traditional decision-making: Interdisciplinarity, interdependency and communities have the potential to be drivers for a greener economy.

Let’s unlock our energy!


About the author

Stefan Ferber

Stefan Ferber

I am Senior Vice President for Engineering at Bosch Software Innovations GmbH in Germany – the Bosch Group’s software and systems house with responsibility for the Bosch IoT Suite – Bosch’s open IoT platform. In this role I represent Bosch in the board of the Eclipse Foundation, represented Bosch in the German “Industrie 4.0 Plattform”, and I am also a member of the European “Internet of Things Council“. Here I leverage more than twenty years experience in software development, software processes, software product lines and software architectures for embedded systems, computer vision, and IT domains. Before I was Product Manager for the Bosch eMobility Solution and therefore engaged internationally in the eMobility market, business models, standardization, and technology topics in Europe, Asia, and Australia. I also acted as Director of Bosch Corporate Systems Engineering Process Group and a technical expert for software engineering and software architectures mostly for automotive embedded software. I hold a Ph.D. and a diploma degree in Computer Science from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany and a MSc. in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, USA.