Winkler Technik one of the innovation leaders 2018

The German TV star Ranga Yogeshwar presents the price to the CEO of Winkler Technik Alexander Winkler and his wife Veronika Winkler.

TOP 100 competition success: Winkler Technik is one of the innovation leaders in 2018

Ueberlingen – The TOP 100 awards for Germany’s most innovative SMEs have been selected for the 25th time and, this year, Winkler Technik GmbH is among the innovation leaders. The results were determined by an analysis performed by TOP 100’s scientific director, Professor Nikolaus Franke. The Ueberlingen-based company will be honoured by the competition’s mentor, Ranga Yogeshwar, together with Franke and compamedia, at the award’s ceremony in Ludwigsburg on 29 June 2018 as part of the fifth German SME Summit. The company, which has 16 employees, particularly impressed the independent panel of judges with its innovation processes and innovation track record.

The Winkler Technik success story began in 1980, when Dr Wolfram Winkler developed the ‘U-Rail’. His invention is mainly used to clip pipework in place in underfloor heating systems and takes the form of a spring rail, jet rail or toothed track. More recent applications include undersoil heating systems at stadiums with grass pitches and even snowmelt systems. Once installed, the spring rails of the TOP 100 company from Ueberlingen on Lake Constance are an invisible but key element. They have made Winkler the global market leader in fixing technology for underfloor heating. The challenge facing the family business since it developed the U-Rail has been to further improve on an already successful innovation. The company, which has 16 employees, has done this by making the U-Rail lighter and by expanding its product range with items such as modular clip rails and staples.

To ensure that the pipeline of innovation continues to flow, managing director Alexander Winkler advocates a system of knowledge management. For example, he is currently using handbooks to build up a kind of ‘company memory bank’ so that nothing gets forgotten. Documenting knowledge is crucial for a SME because it can so easily be lost. If the chief developer retires or moves to another company, for example, their experience and expertise will go with them unless it is formally recorded. “A knowledge management system is also important for new recruits and helps to dramatically reduce the initial induction period,” says Winkler.

The TOP 100 competition

Since 1993, compamedia has been awarding the TOP 100 seal of approval to SMEs with a particular ability to innovate and above-average success rates for innovations. Professor Nikolaus Franke has coordinated the project since 2002, and is the founder and director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. The TOP 100 is mentored by science journalist Ranga Yogeshwar and organised in partnership with the Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research and the German Association for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW). Media support for the company benchmarking competition is provided by manager magazin, Impulse, and W&V. Further information is available at

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