Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Dorothee Bär, said: "Digitalization offers the German automotive industry great opportunities for development. Our carmakers are already pioneers in automated driving and smart mobility services. This hard-won advantage must be strengthened and expanded. That is only possible with first-class know-how in software development. The leaders in this field will safeguard their innovation leadership in the digital era."
Matthias Müller, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, commented: "We are harnessing the opportunities offered by digitalization and will be thrilling our customers with tailored smart mobility solutions. We are turning the Volkswagen Group into a globally leading mobility company. IT plays a key role in this process. With our labs in Munich, Wolfsburg, San Francisco and now also Berlin, we are creating regional idea think tanks outside of established structures and processes. The labs are the ideal interface with the startup world and they are a valuable catalyst. They are where we combine the competence and experience of a large company with the pragmatism and speed of a startup."
The Digital Lab in the German capital is part of a global network of IT labs and other competence centers in the Volkswagen Group which the company has set up to drive its efforts in the future areas of IT, digitalization and autonomous driving.
The services developed in the Digital Lab are available to all Group brands. The lab also supports specialist departments such as Sales and Technical Development to design tailored software products. The Volkswagen Group is thereby strengthening its in-house competence in the field of software solutions.
The Digital Lab was founded with financial support from the innovation fund for the Volkswagen brand, a joint initiative of the company and the Works Council. The innovation fund supports projects going beyond Volkswagen's previous core business.
Heinz-Joachim Thust, Member of the General Works Council, said: "Our colleagues at the Digital Lab are working hard on software solutions for new business models far removed from car manufacturers' present core business. Our labs therefore not only create ideas for entirely new customer offerings, but also lay the foundation for new areas of employment. That is why the activities of the Digital Lab have the full backing of the Works Council and why financial support from the innovation fund has been forthcoming. The Digital Lab will help ensure we identify technology trends at an early stage and that we become more active as an innovation-driven pioneer in digital areas as well."
Dr. Martin Hofmann, CIO of the Volkswagen Group, explained: "Programmers, data scientists, design thinking experts and cloud architects all work together in our labs. We place the emphasis on Silicon Valley-style agile working methods such as pair programming, where software developers regularly work in teams of two. That fosters exchange and creativity, accelerates development, and enables swifter adjustment in the event of short-term changes in customer wishes."
The Volkswagen Group labs are IT development centers with a start-up format, and provide the environment to experiment with new technologies outside of the line organization. Working in close cooperation with universities, research institutions and technology partners such as the software specialist Pivotal, the German labs in Berlin, Munich and Wolfsburg come up with new IT solutions for areas such as Industry 4.0, big data, advanced analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, connectivity and the internet of things. The labs also function as catalysts for new work models and personnel recruitment methods.