The Bundeswehr Cyber Innovation Hub is the digital speedboat of the German Armed Forces.
The Bundeswehr Cyber Innovation Hub supports the digital transformation of the Bundeswehr. It builds a bridge between the armed forces and the start-up ecosystem.
From the troops, with the troops, for the troops
From a VR flight simulator for the Air Force to a care app for the Bundeswehr hospitals and a digital light for the Navy's frogman units: the Cyber Innovation Hub covers a lot of ground when it comes to digital innovation.
We trial concrete projects in practice and on site. Every project takes place in direct cooperation with the troops, and we work with any military or organisational branch of the Bundeswehr. Our ideas are generated from actual requirements within the troops, and we pick our projects independently. All our work revolves around the soldiers. We are the do tank of our forces.
‘There should be more pragmatic, rapid solutions like this.’Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces Dr Eva Högl in the Parliamentary Commissioner's Annual Report
As the digital-innovation unit of the Bundeswehr, the Cyber Innovation Hub is based on the model of similar innovation units in private businesses and other armed forces, such as those of the United States and Israel. We are Europe’s first military unit focusing on digital innovation, and various German federal ministries and public authorities have modelled their own innovation units after us.
The Bundeswehr Cyber Innovation Hub was founded in 2017. After completing our pilot phase successfully in 2020, our innovation unit was made a permanent part of the Bundeswehr and BWI GmbH.
Er richtet sich Our work is guided by the actual needs of the soldiers and civilian employees reporting to the Federal Ministry of Defence.
The innovation funnel: a flexible process
How do ideas become successful innovation projects at the Bundeswehr Cyber Innovation Hub?
All our innovation projects pass through the ‘innovation funnel’ of the Bundeswehr Cyber Innovation Hub. Whether or not an idea will become an actual solution, then, is not just down to luck. Rather than a linear conveyor belt, the innovation funnel is an iterative process that allows for flexible reactions to changes and feedback. Instead of a rigid process, we want to test existing solutions that may be useful to the Bundeswehr, and we want to do it fast.
The users of the solution, i.e., our soldiers and other Bundeswehr members, are included in the development process from the start. Here is how our user-centric process works.
During the first phase (ideate and validate), we gather ideas (ideate) and determine whether they might be able to solve everyday problems or unusual issues in the Bundeswehr or make a whole new contribution to the forces. This also means that every idea needs to have a concrete user in the troops. Only when an idea generates a benefit for the Bundeswehr and the relevant user perceives it as beneficial (validate) will it be considered.
If that is the case, the idea becomes an innovation project, and the setup process begins. Firstly, we develop how much time, staff and resources will be needed. Once we have put together a concept and a plan, we decide whether the project is really fit for implementation and worth the resources (solution review). During the supply phase, we obtain external products and services to realise the prototype.
Finally, we work directly with the users to see whether a prototype created by us or an external supplier will pass the practical test (build and experiment). All prototypes must generate a benefit and be user-friendly. We summarise our experiences in a final report and use it to recommend that the product be rolled out across the Bundeswehr – or not. Agile and open to results! We have developed a system for prototype use together with our mothership, the BWI, so that our soldiers can keep using successfully trialled products until they are officially launched in the CPM process. So our innovations become sustainable, too.