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Let's talk about progress

Talks on equal terms – for Audi, this approach is the basis for developing ideas and taking innovations to the next level.

10/29/2020 Copy: AUDI AG - Photo: AUDI AG - Film: AUDI AG Reading Time: 3 min

As an active Bits & Pretzels partner, Audi once again hosted a program in 2020 with international experts aimed at holding discussions with the start-up scene and sharing knowledge. One novel aspect this year was the fact that the traditional start-up festival was held purely virtually for the first time as a networking week. The spirit of the event is characterized by communication on equal terms, interaction with the guests, and specific ideas that inspire daily work. Audi wishes to contribute to this added value, which is why it has been a firm member of the innovative Bits community for a number of years.


“Whether within a large corporation or a start-up, innovations drive the transformation. This mindset is firmly rooted in Audi’s DNA – Vorsprung durch Technik,” says Hildegard Wortmann, Audi Sales and Marketing Director. “With Bits & Pretzels as a partner, we are pursuing this clear aim and bringing innovative pioneers together from all over the world. It is about progress, new ideas, and actively shaping the future.”

Bits & Pretzels 2020 Hildegard Wortmann
Hildegard Wortmann, Audi Sales and Marketing Director, spoke to Cawa Younosi, Human Resources Director at SAP Germany, about the subject of new leadership.

Progressive communication at the Audi Vertical

In six online sessions, Hildegard Wortmann and others, including Henrik Wenders, Senior Vice President of the Audi Brand, gave the participants a fascinating insight into Audi’s positioning in relation to matters such as new leadership, brand strategy, and business models for the future of mobility. An inspiring discourse ensued, enhanced by the viewpoints of international speakers and the insider perspectives of the start-up community. In the Bits & Pretzels masterclasses, a somewhat smaller setting, the corporate innovation unit Audi Denkwerkstatt and the Audi social media team also shared useful practical knowledge on innovative methods and establishing a successful corporate profile on social media channels.

Bits & Pretzels 2020 Henrik Wenders
Henrik Wenders, Senior Vice President of the Audi Brand, talked about how to establish a successful brand in his keynote speech.

New leadership, brand-new brand and innovation hubs

In her online session, Hildegard Wortmann talked to Cawa Younosi, Human Resources Director at SAP Germany, about the subject of new leadership. Both of them emphasized how important it is for people to talk to one another – uninfluenced by hierarchy levels in keeping with the “unbossing” principle. To this end, the native of Münster has introduced programs at Audi such as LLX – which stands for listen, learn, and exchange – and the Rock Stars’ Roundtable. “The coronavirus is a catalyst for digitalization, but also for new leadership values,” said Hildegard Wortmann during the talk. “Setting a bold course, rising to challenges together with your team, and seizing new opportunities – that is how leading with passion becomes a key element in a company’s success.”


Henrik Wenders then built a bridge between the basis that ought to be at the start of any new foundation or reorganization – whether it involves a start-up or a global player like Audi – and the newly refined brand strategy of the marque with the four interlocking rings. The vision, mission, and the objective should all be clearly defined and always in focus. As a surprise for the participants of the Audi Vertical at this year’s Bits & Pretzels, there was a little sneak preview, which made clear why the subject of attitude represents the foundations of our mobility of the future as far as Audi is concerned.

“A clear, consistent strategy and positioning are the basis of a brand’s successful focus. For us at Audi, it is Vorsprung – or leading the way. We demonstrate a pioneering spirit and the forward-looking focus of the brand in everything we do,” explains Henrik Wenders.


It is clear in the mission of the Audi Denkwerkstatt that mobility at Audi is considered above and beyond the mere product itself. The corporate innovation unit in Berlin has set itself the goal of helping people to get the most out of the available time and space. Interdisciplinary teams from every division of the Audi Group are developing new digital business models and focusing on customer needs in the early stage of innovation. In combination with a number of different agile working methods, hierarchy-free teamwork, and a strong network on the start-up and tech scene, the unit acts like an Audi speedboat. “A team made up of people with different qualifications significantly increases the chances of developing fantastic ideas,” affirms Matthias Brendel, co-founder of the Audi Denkwerkstatt.


In the course of performing a 360-degree examination of mobility, it is also essential to take a look at other markets. Christian Balzer and Ming Zhu from Audi China teamed up with Marcel Münch from the trend platform DONGXii to share their experiences of the combination of mobility and digitalization in China. “China is growing at an incredible tempo – it is agile, creative, and digital,” reports Christian Balzer, Head of Brand Strategy at Audi China. Digital trends from China provide an indication of the form digitalization might take globally in the future. In this regard, so-called super apps play just as an important role as the start-up scene there, which is relentlessly presenting new tech solutions for everyday life, mobility, and the business world. The resulting insights are brought together at Audi Innovation Research (AIR) Beijing.

Bits & Pretzels 2020 Audi Denkwerkstatt
Matthias Brendel, co-founder of the Audi Denkwerkstatt, teamed up with Lennart Dobravsky, Director of Research & Intelligence at the Lufthansa Innovation Hub, to share their experiences in the area of corporate innovation units.

Festival for the start-up scene

Bits & Pretzels is a festival that has been bringing together company founders, investors, entrepreneurs, and innovators from the start-up scene since 2014. Businesspeople from all over the world gather at the event to network and share their experiences. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was held in the virtual sphere this year. Find out more: www.bitsandpretzels.com


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Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale.

Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale.