Pioneers for European Education Awarded at Schloss Bensberg 2012/10/08 - Leonardo Award Ceremony

Four brave pioneers in the area of education received the Leonardo – European Corporate Learning Award at Schloss Bensberg on September 24th 2012. The award ceremony, which took place as a prelude to the HRM Expo (from 25th to 27th September in Cologne, Germany), saw the presentation of the award in three different categories for the first time. This was a natural consequence in order to emphasize the decisive aspects of the Leonardo idea of holistic education. The award winners were Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of the Fraunhofer Society, in the category “Thought Leadership”, the two Managing Directors of the Festo Holding Company, Dr. Wilfried Stoll and Dr. h.c. Kurt Stoll in the category “Company Transformation”, and Prof. Sugata Mitra, initiator of the “Hole in the Wall” experiment, in the category "Crossing Borders”.

Future trends for education and vocational training were underlined by the grand award ceremony of the 3rd Leonardo Awards. The 130 guests included not only members of the Leonardo Advisory Board but also those holding the laudatory speeches, Rainer Wieland, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Helmut Dockter, State Secretary for the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research, and Prof. Dr. Johan Löhn, President of Berlin Steinbeis University.

“Thought Leadership”: Research of today is the development of tomorrow

The award in the category "Thought Leadership" was the first to be presented. This category focuses on personalities who have inspired many followers in companies as well as society, and have placed an emphasis on European growth in their innovative ambitions. In this category the Advisory Board of the Leonardo – European Corporate Learning Award decided to bestow the award upon Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of the Fraunhofer Society.

“In the academic world Hans-Jörg Bullinger is a symbol for innovation, innovation management and innovation strategies", explained Secretary of State Helmut Dockter when announcing the award winner. The beginning of all innovative processes are defined by the courage of daring to do something new or taking a new path, as described in the famous poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. “During his career as Head of the Fraunhofer Institute and President of the Fraunhofer Society Prof. Bullinger always decided in favour of exploring new paths”, continued Dockter.

“Company Transformation”: Education also one of society’s tasks

The category “Company Transformation” awards personalities who have implemented holistic, innovative approaches to corporate learning and thus inspired other companies. The award winners in this category were the two owners of the automation company Festo. Prof. Löhn explained that Kurt Stoll, the “design whizz" and Wilfried Stoll, the visionary and businessman, have shown that it is possible to successfully unite and implement two different talents.

“We see this award as something that honours not only our own achievements but also distinguishes the overall performance of our Executive Board, our 69 Managing Directors in Germany and abroad, and our employees around the globe", explained Wilfried Stoll in his acceptance speech. “For us personally, this is an incentive to continue contributing towards technical education in Germany, Europe and the world.” The two men see this not only as a public duty, but also as a social commitment.

“Crossing Borders”: “The chance of learning for those who don't have a chance!”

The Leonardo Award in the category "Crossing Borders" honours alternative approaches that question leading mind-sets and thus provoke changes, particularly in on-the-job training. Sugata Mitra, Professor for Educational Technology at Newcastle University in Great Britain and visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Media Lab received the award in this category at Schloss Bensberg. Mitra is particularly well known for his “Hole in the Wall" experiment, in which he installed a computer with internet access in a New Delhi slum, and thus managed to show how well children can gain knowledge in a self-organised fashion and learn social behaviour.

In his laudation, Prof. Wim Veen addressed Sugata Mitra as “someone who approached the issue like an engineer, but in addition to that, acted on the vision of giving those who don't actually have a chance the chance of learning!” Sugata Mitra explained that it is important to ask the right questions. The idea is to show the children how they can answer questions, put the answers into perspective and thus solve a problem. This, according to Sugata Mitra, is where grown-ups can learn from children.

Award categories “add up” to an overall picture

In order to give the ceremony an artistic note, the two presenters – the artist Corinna Pregla, known as a representative of "Germany, Land of Ideas", a commercial and federal government initiative, and the Briton Michael Spencer, an internationally renowned music-oriented communication expert – included the work of a further life-long learner: the fugue in E flat major by Johann Sebastian Bach. “The basic idea of a musical fugue is that it develops from a strong melodic idea”, explained Corinna Pregla. “And that is how our fugue, our Leonardo fugue, will develop bit by bit in concert with the award categories.” The musical piece was played at the beginning and end of each award category with an additional part. “Because only the harmony between the three categories, the three aspects of Corporate Learning for which our award winners stand in an exceptional way, makes up the overall composition of the Leonardo idea", continued the presenter.

After the AirPenguin, a flying object filled with a cubic meter of helium, already had the audience in awe during the award ceremony, Robotino, another little robot developed by Festo, gave visitors a rose at the end of the event.


Stefanie Hornung

Public Relations
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