ISO-Gruppe is among the Top 100

The TOP 100 competition has been awarding Germany’s most innovative SMEs for more than 20 years. This year the ISO-Gruppe joins this elite club of innovators. For this the Nuremberg-based firm took part in a rigorous, academic selection process that analysed innovation management and successful innovation. Ranga Yogeshwar, the TOP 100 mentor, will present the top innovators with their awards at the German SME Summit in Essen on 24 June.

This year, more than 4,000 companies registered an interest in taking part in the TOP 100 competition, with 366 of them applying for the qualification round and 284 getting through to the finals. Ultimately, 238 made it into the TOP 100 (no more than one hundred in each of the three size categories). The companies were evaluated by Nikolaus Franke, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, and his team. They examined more than 100 parameters in these five assessment categories: ‘Innovation-friendly Senior Management’, ‘Climate of Innovation’, ‘Innovative Processes and Organisation’, ‘Innovations Marketing’ and ‘Successful Innovations’.

As an international provider of IT services and specialist software for the B2B market, the ISO-Gruppe from Nuremberg combines several companies under one roof. The group’s customers include airports, airlines, and companies from the tourism sector. The TOP 100 award winner was particularly successful in the ‘Innovative Processes and Organisation’ category. The Board of Directors, which oversees all of the group’s business areas, focuses on topics relating to the future, while the individual units run their businesses as independent profit centres. “The Board of Directors observes the markets from the customer's perspective, provides suggestions for promising business models, and encourages the division heads to think about these aspects,” explained the group’s owner, Harald Goeb.

The Board, consisting of Mr Goeb, his son and son-in-law as well as two managers not connected with the family, decides which innovations will be given the green light. If they decide that a good idea should be put into practice, the necessary budget is promptly provided. “The relevant manager then has the power to access resources in the individual units,” explained Goeb, “and can put together a team of employees from our 400-strong workforce with precisely the right expertise.” The family firm was founded in 1979 and has a lot of staying power. Unlike a listed company, it is not focused on quarterly results – promising solutions can thus be given enough time to come to fruition.

The TOP 100 are among the pacesetters in their sectors. Statistics reveal that the evaluation process included 97 German market leaders and 32 global market leaders. On average, they generated 40 per cent of their recent revenue from innovations and product improvements, which they brought to the market before their competitors. Their revenue growth rate was 28 percentage points higher than the average for their industries. In the last three years, these SMEs have together applied for a total of 2,292 German and international patents. This ability to innovate also pays dividends in terms of jobs, with the TOP 100 planning to take on around 9,500 new employees in the next three years.

The TOP 100’s mentor, science journalist and television presenter Ranga Yogeshwar, is impressed by the quality of the companies and hopes they will become role models. “The way in which the TOP 100 companies generate new ideas and develop groundbreaking products and services based on them is remarkable in the truest sense of the word. I am delighted that the award highlights these qualities. I hope their success will encourage others to follow in their footsteps, because this culture of innovation is going to become increasingly important for all companies.”

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