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Change in the management team 28.06.2024

A bridge head between science and industry

After a 32-year career at VDMA - including 24 years as Managing Director of the FVV and the Mechanical Engineering Research Federation FKM - Dietmar Goericke is retiring on 30 June 2024. In the course of his more than three decades of work at VDMA Group, he has rendered outstanding services to a large number of topics in industrial research in mechanical engineering and provided valuable impact in the field of Industrial Collective Research. In this interview, he looks back on the special moments and achievements of his professional career.

Interview: Richard Backhaus | Photos: Sarah Kastner

What were your biggest challenges as Managing Director of FVV?

The FVV's pre-competitive research is based on the needs of its member companies. These are not only subject to constant change due to technological evolution, but also increasingly due to social, political and economic impact. One of the biggest challenges had certainly been to proactively align the FVV's research work with new requirements so that the results of the research projects offer solutions to the respective technological challenges. In recent years, for example, we have optimised the processes and structures within the FVV and established new lines of research in order to find answers to questions arising from the green transformation of automotive/industrial powertrains and turbo machines. For some years now, we have been driving forward the diversification of research projects in the FVV and now cover the entire range of future energy sources and converters, battery electric systems as well as hydrogen-powered fuel cells or thermal converters and other alternative energy sources such as e-fuels. The targeted use of the best overall solution in each case can significantly accelerate the ramp-up of carbon-neutral technologies. As we were able to demonstrate in our orientation studies, this is the only way to achieve the climate targets set by the EU and Germany in the transportation sector, for example.

But the public debate often goes in a different direction?

Unfortunately, social and political opinion in Germany is often determined by a pronounced black-and-white mentality, in which one solution is praised as a panacea and the other options for reducing carbon emissions are demonised. I would like to see an honest and open social debate that is based on the facts when implementing net-zero carbon emissions and that also considers further aspects such as the social prosperity generated by industry and the mobility sectors and the preservation of Germany as a competitive industrial location. In other regions of the world, I have seen much closer co-operation between industrial policy and the public in understanding how to evaluate the various solutions in a technology-neutral way and implement them in line with demand.

I would like to see an honest and open social debate that is based on the facts when implementing net-zero carbon emissions and that also considers further aspects such as the social prosperity generated by industry and the mobility sectors and the preservation of Germany as a competitive industrial location.

How have the structures of the FVV changed to meet the new requirements?

As already mentioned, we have expanded our research spectrum by new expert groups. We have also adapted the structure of our project planning. Our activities are now based on the social and resulting technological requirements of sustainable energy conversion systems. These are specified from the system level down to the component level and implemented in research projects. All of this is summarised in our mission statement ›MAKE IT NEW‹. Furthermore, we have started to pool innovative topics relating to industrial research in Germany and Europe in the Mechanical Engineering Research Federation FKM. This allows us to leverage synergies in the development of research ideas, in research policy consulting and in the implementation of research projects. I am also very keen to intensify cooperation with universities in the promotion of young talent. By involving students and graduates in our research project work, we support the qualification of engineers and thus help to counter the shortage of skilled labour in Germany.

How have members' expectations of the FVV changed?

The FVV is increasingly perceived as a think tank that provides impetus for development decisions at the member companies. This is also due to the large amount of technical content that has to be processed in parallel by a company's development department, while at the same time the departments are becoming increasingly streamlined. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized companies, which usually have more limited capacities. Through our orientation studies, we place the results of pre-competitive collective research in an application-oriented context and provide companies with a basis for their development decisions.

How has the membership structure of the FVV changed?

Parallel to the markets, we have also further expanded the internationalisation of the FVV. In recent decades, we have been able to gain more and more members from other European and non-European countries. We have also built up a co-operation network with research institutions in Europe and worldwide. In addition to very good relationships with universities in Switzerland and Austria, we are expanding our research collaborations in Italy and the USA, for example. We work very closely with the Japanese research association AICE, an association of the Japanese automotive industry made up of OEMs, suppliers and academia, which was founded in 2014 and modelled on the FVV. All member companies benefit from this, as the international pre-competitive exchange of expertise brings new impetus and ideas to the research projects. And, as can be seen very clearly from the example of Japan, this supports our research policy approach of technological neutrality.

The FVV is a ›collaborative undertaking‹ that thrives on the support of its members. I am very happy that more and more companies and research institutions from Germany and abroad are willing to play an active role in shaping pre-competitive industrial research collectively.

Dietmar Goericke in the middle of the FVV management team (from left to right): Matthias Zelinger (Deputy Managing Director), Dr Markus Schwaderlapp (Chairman of the Board), Christopher Steinwachs (Deputy Chairman of the Board), Dietmar Goericke, Martin Nitsche (incoming MD from 01.07.2024), Dr Andreas Kufferath (Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee)

What plans do you have for live after the FVV?

VDMA and FVV have characterised most of my professional career. In more than 30 years at VDMA, I have had the honour of getting to know many great colleagues and business partners. I would like to thank all of them - especially the FKM and FVV team - for the excellent, friendly cooperation and wish them all the best for the future. On a personal level, I will be devoting more time to interests that have been neglected in recent years. I would like to do more sport, travel and brush up on my French language skills. And finally, I will be spending more time with my family.