How companies can use keen visions responsibly 2012/06/21 - Leonardo-Award 2012

How we live and work today and in the future is not only a question of politics but also of the learning processes companies go through. That is why the initiators of the Leonardo – European Corporate Learning Award have set the goal of promoting brave learning initiatives by distinguishing pioneers in education. This year the award will be presented in three different categories for the first time. The award winners are Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the two Managing Partners of Festo Holding Dr. Wilfried Stoll and Dr. h.c. Kurt Stoll, and Prof. Sugata Mitra, initiator of the “Hole in the Wall” experiment.

In 2012 the Leonardo Award will be presented in the categories “Thought Leadership”, “Company Transformation” and “Crossing Borders”. “After having clearly shown the focus of the award through the first laureates Prof. Jacques Delors and Jimmy Wales, we now wish to emphasise the Leonardo notion’s decisive aspects of holistic education with the three new award categories”, explains Günther Szogs, “Secretary” of the Leonardo Advisory Board and founding member of “The New Club of Paris”. “We wish to show what companies have already achieved in terms of groundbreaking advanced education and where the journey could still proceed", Szogs illustrates.

Thought Leadership: Inspiring potential imitators

The category “Thought Leadership” places an emphasis on personalities that have inspired many imitators in companies and society, and have attached great importance to growth and employment in the spirit of "Europe 2020" in their innovative endeavours. The European Union’s ten-year economic programme, which began in 2010, is aimed at creating “intelligent, sustainable and integrative growth” that improves the coordination of the national and European economic areas. In this category the Leonardo Advisory Board gave the award to Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

“Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Bullinger has initiated many beacon projects that have played a part in creating a more productive and competitive economy” is the reason stated by the advisory board. Examples of this are his research activities or the introduction of new technologies for corporate learning and knowledge management – for example 3D applications or applications for mobile learning. He untiringly advocates the combination of technical novelties in the art of engineering with social developments. Günther Szogs believes that “Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Bullinger is someone who helps shape the future in perfect Leonardo style, as is currently shown by the Fraunhofer initiative ‘Morning City - The vision of a liveable, CO2-neutral city’."

Company Transformation: A holistic approach to company learning

The category “Company Transformation” distinguishes personalities who have implemented holistic, innovative approaches to corporate learning and thus inspired other companies. The award refers to the interaction of various aspects of personnel development – from knowledge and talent management, training and e-learning concepts for life-long learning, to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and intercultural approaches. The owners of the automation company Festo, Dr. Wilfried Stoll and Dr. h.c. Kurt Stoll, will receive the Leonardo Award in this category.

According to the advisory board they were not only chosen because of the Festo Didactic facility, developed by them and explicitly focused on learning, which develops training means for vocational education in Germany in cooperation with the Federal Institute for Vocational Education. The Leonardo Award also recognizes the Stoll brothers’ overall achievements. Both of them transformed all areas of the company responsibly and involved business partners and policy makers from the social environment in the process. The advisory board continues that “they achieved this with the concept of so-called ‘Corporate Educational Responsibility’ – in an interplay of economic reason, excellence in engineering and visionary innovation".

Crossing Borders: Challenging established ways of thinking

Exceptional new developments that fundamentally challenge prevailing mind-sets and thus also influence learning in businesses – this is the aspect that the Leonardo category “Crossing Borders” emphasizes. Daring alternative approaches that bring about change through their influence on people, companies and society are distinguished.

Award-winner in this category is Sugata Mitra, Professor for Educational Technology at Newcastle University in Great Britain and currently visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Media Lab. Mitra is particularly well-known for his “Hole in the Wall” experiment where he installed a computer with internet access in a wall in a New Delhi slum in 1999. This experiment, which he later repeated at other locations around the world, was able to prove the great extent to which children can learn and develop social behaviour by themselves – even without teachers.

“With his revolutionary view of children's creativity Sugata Mitra has also become involved in the issue of increasing educational opportunities in remote locations where schools and teachers are in scarce supply", points out the Leonardo Advisory Board. Moreover, on the basis of his research at Newcastle University he has also proven that these challenges, which were often considered problems concerning countries in Asia and Africa, also affect regions in Europe. “Mitra has inspired education experts around the world to re-think learning methods and to develop a new learning design for talent management – in school education as well as corporate learning.“

This year’s award ceremony on the eve of the HRM Expo

According to Leonardo Secretary Szogs, the fact that some of the categories partially overlap is actually no coincidence. “The award emphasizes the unique components of each of the award-winning education innovations, which are unified by the Leonardo's holistic spirit.” In his day, Leonardo da Vinci provided a hitherto unprecedented example of how traditional and incoherent schools of art and science could refer to each other in such a way as to work in a highly professional manner and at the same time foster knowledge, empathy and passion. “In order to achieve that, two things in particular are necessary, which are facets that are also embodied by this year’s laureates: A certain visionary ‘oddballness’ in their volition to ‘disarrange’ the norm, combined with the courage to use that boldness in an economically responsible fashion.“

For the first time the award ceremony will not take place at the HRM Expo itself, but on the eve of Europe's largest HR exhibition: On Monday, 24th September 2012, the laureates will receive their awards at the Grandhotel Schloss Bensberg near Cologne. The international co-hosts will be the artist Corinna Pregla, known, amongst others, as a representative for "Germany - Land of Ideas", an initiative brought to life by industry and federal government, and the British national Michael Spencer, an internationally successful music-oriented communication expert. Prof. Dr. Wim Veen, Professor for Learning Systems at Delft University of Technology (NL), has already been confirmed to hold the laudation for Prof. Sugata Mitra.


To register for the award ceremony please contact:
Sandra Schall
HRM Research Institute GmbH
Rheinkaistrasse 2
68159 Mannheim
Tel: +49 621 40166-335