Science fiction can be learned

On a frosty November day Sigurd Pfitzner, the Head of quality assurance at First Sensor Microelectronic Packaging GmbH in Dresden, shows his guests from Turkmenistan the production of highly sensitive electronic sensors. It’s all about ultra-pure processes, the tiniest semiconductor structures and adaptive multi-sensor systems. The 22 MP participants from Turkmenistan are amazed: “It’s like science fiction - we don’t have anything like that,” says Rustam Mashatkulov, the principal engineer at a climate technology firm from Ashgabat.

But science fiction isn’t simply wizardry: in a cutting edge technology business, quality assurance also depends on employees who are encouraged to contribute their own ideas about improving conditions at their own workplace. That happens all the time, according to Pfitzner. The employees use simple forms to write down their ideas. The quality assurance team regularly evaluates these proposals, and plausible suggestions can be implemented after a test phase so that all employees can benefit from them. “It doesn’t matter which industry you come from yourself - you can make this approach work for you,” says Mashatkulov in conclusion.

Yet the success and innovation of a company are based on such seemingly simple tools. With this system and a powerful R&D department, First Sensor Microelectronic Packaging GmbH successfully applied for three dozen patents, utility patents and trademark registrations in 2016 alone. And the patients are only registered once an idea has been shown to be marketable based on initial prognoses. So this isn’t just science fiction, it is real, grounded business activity with a future.

The BMWi Manager Training Programme places special emphasis on competencies in the area of innovation and change processes in companies. In addition to the practical observation, intensive trainings and workshops on these competencies are offered for participants. The executives from Turkmenistan are from different industries, but each of them benefited from the trainings. “Especially change management,” says Davut Berdyyev, the CEO of a Turkmen company in the telecommunications industry. “Ultimately, it’s a matter of finding the right way to deal with people, with your employees.”

A few days after visiting the Dresden technology company, the MP participants from Turkmenistan find themselves in front of a cow stall at the Kohren country dairy and looking into the eyes of a black spotted lowland cow: “We know this very well! We can’t go wrong here,” the milk produced in the dairy is certified as an organic product, and is available as such in many supermarkets all around Germany. “Many different criteria play a role here,” says Hendrik Jan Westert, the managing partner of the dairy. “That includes requirements concerning stall and grazing area per dairy cow, organic feed, and a ban on ionizing radiation, genetically engineered organisms, sweeteners etc. throughout the entire production process and a documented HACCP plan for the dairy.” - “So it is science fiction,” smile the participants.

As a whole, technology and the dairy business both make a lasting impression. On the last day of their stay in Germany, the MP participants drew what for them might be the most important conclusion: science fiction is also a craft that you can learn and apply - and in the Turkmenistan economy too.

ARGE Consortium for the New Federal States, Dresden