We do not leave innovation to chance
In early April 2022, the KNF Group welcomed a new innovation unit, KNF Starter, which is located at Technopark Luzern. This will break new ground under the direct leadership of CEO Martin Becker. In this interview, Martin Becker talks about the innovation culture at KNF and the roles of the new location.
In your opinion, what are the most important drivers of innovation at KNF?
Even if it may sound cliché: our customers! A large part of our business is to customize our products for customer-specific needs. Our broad experience in solving many novel application requirements then often results in standard product portfolio innovations.
Within the Group, we have many innovation drivers. First and foremost, our employees who are always coming up with new ideas, making optimizations and monitoring the market. A large proportion of our innovations comes from the research and development departments in our Product Centers. As a decentralized Group, many innovations also result from internal competition.
The latest innovation driver within our group is KNF Starter. Located in Lucerne, this innovation unit will look far beyond diaphragm pump technology at radical and disruptive business areas and technology fields.
Which technological megatrends do you consider to be of major importance for the future?
Technologically, as a group, we have always been and still are at the forefront of diaphragm pump technology. In this field, we keep an eye on all megatrends and also have initiated some of them, for example smooth flow technology. At KNF Starter, we are expanding this horizon to include topics that have been or will be relevant in other contexts as well. As for many other industries, digitalization is one of the most important topics for us – if not the most important. This includes aspects like AI, connectivity and IoT.
In addition, KNF Starter is focusing on manufacturing technologies that promise exponential growth. I am thinking, for example, of 3D/4D printing, nanotechnology or smart materials. We also see great potential in health-related areas. This is clearly broader than mere medical technology, but also targets topics like the improvement of the physical and cognitive performance of the human body.
How does KNF plan to respond to these trends?
As a kind of knowledge hub and lab for the future, KNF Starter is to conduct research on future topics. Together with partners, we are working on securing our future position in other areas as well, just as we are already doing with our diaphragm pump technology. We are serious, and we do not leave innovation to chance.
Where will KNF Starter be and who will lead the location?
Our journey begins at Technopark Luzern, from where we set out for new shores. What is particularly important for the journey ahead is the proximity to other innovative companies and potential partners from science and industry.
The new unit is part of the KNF Group and will be managed by me personally. This way, I will contribute my many years of corporate experience. Furthermore, I will ensure that the company can quickly get in touch with the other companies of the KNF Group.
Who is KNF Starter looking for?
We are looking for employees and partners who think outside the box, are not satisfied with the status quo and are always interested in thinking, testing and implementing new things. Specifically, we would first like to hire New Business Development Managers for the areas mentioned. In a second step, we will then hire specialized technology experts.
Our partners can come from a wide variety of backgrounds. They can be universities, research institutes or industrial partners from various fields. As a quality, technology and market leader, it is important to us that potential partners and employees are willing and able to meet the major challenges posed by this venture on an equal level.
Let’s take a look into the crystal ball: What is the future of the diaphragm pump?
We do not expect the diaphragm pump to become obsolete. It offers too many advantages that no other technology can match. In addition, with the digitalization of the diaphragm pump, we are in the process of opening up completely new possibilities and potentials. One thing, however, is also clear: Almost every technology will be, at least partially, replaced by a new solution at some point. There are many examples of this: For instance, who still uses typewriters, incandescent lamps or tube monitors today?
And even if the diaphragm pump may never be completely replaced, a new solution will nevertheless be found in one area or another that is better than the existing one. We want to be at the forefront here and promote technological progress so that we can always offer our customers the ideal solution.