“It's really this pearl that we can now start shining,” says Jürgen von Hollen, the new Chief Executive Officer of Ultimaker about joining the company. As part of that, Jürgen intends to solidify Ultimaker as the professional 3D printing industry leader and propel the company to new heights.
Jürgen took the CEO reins from Jos Burger at the end of 2020. Jos now sits on the supervisory board, while Miguel Calvo joined as Chief Technical Officer in February 2021.
Jürgen’s ambitious plans include developing Ultimaker’s 3D printing ecosystem, creating the right culture, and outgrowing the market. In a recent interview with TCT Magazine, the former CEO of Universal Robots expanded on these points.
Read on for the highlights of that Q&A with Jürgen.
1. The platform is the future of 3D printing
"Over time, we'll be going from being a pure product player to much more of a platform, application, and solutions player. That's going to be one of the key drivers for us. Believing that we’ll have a long-term and sustainable competitive advantage on tech alone? I’ve never seen it.
“So, I then focus on five other things that I think are relevant to the strengths of Ultimaker. One is the people and the competence; we have almost 180 engineers driving the solution. The next part is the go-to-market – we’re going to be focusing on building strong go-to-market channels. The next step is awareness, driven by getting competence up. And that’s the Academy concept, not just for us but our end users.
“The next point is the ecosystem for innovation. Taking the concept of the ecosystem, extrapolating it up, and making sure we provide an open, certified community. Because we want to make sure our end users get the [best] user experience.
“And then the last part is the business model, where we build on top of the platform, us, and our ecosystem partners. If we marry this integration of technology and ecosystem, we have something unique.”
2. The importance of prioritizing
“What we want to be is excellent at what we do. We have to have our ship in order before we start looking to add more to it, right? I want to make sure the business is a functioning, effective business that's able to accelerate with more addition.
“I do think we have to be aware of what's going on around us. It doesn't make sense to have your blinders up. So, we know what the competition is doing, and we know where the trends are. And we have to react to some of those things and be proactive in some areas.”
3. Constantly innovating means evolving
"Understanding where we want to be in five years, there’s critical things that have to be done now to be able to get there. Change is going to be the constant. But how do we do that in a way that's effective?
“One of the reasons Miguel came on board was because he has a lot of experience from a structured approach to be able to assess from a process perspective that we’re delivering what we have to.
“There are two different types of innovation: invention, which is where we came from, versus a structured process for innovation. As companies move up and mature, they have to migrate to process-driven innovation – that's just the way it is.
“But we need to make sure we leverage the community and ecosystem around us, and make sure we’re not becoming myopic or introverted. Because as the market matures, our customers actually know quite a lot about 3D printers, so we should listen and engage with that."
4. Our people are the core of our future
"The biggest challenge in the world is getting and keeping the best resources onboard. The best resources – the people – has to be at the core of what I do. I want to be the most attractive company you want to go work for. Because if I do that, I have the best chance of being successful in anything we intend to do over the next five years.
“I've been spending quite a bit of time in the last six weeks developing the purpose and how we're going to be rolling out our vision and the values. Our whole year, we're going to be doing activities around culture.
“Because we have so many new people in the company, including myself, we don't have a true culture. Everyone brings something. I've got to marry all that together and make sure people get aligned."
5. But transforming together doesn't stop with Ultimaker
"The next job is getting the ecosystem aligned, because I can't partner with somebody who doesn't agree with us – we have to have the same values. I’d love for us to be able to say we've got the biggest ecosystem and platform for 3D printing, in all its dimensions. Whether it's materials, software, or printers, that we’re the place to come.
“And if you’re a manufacturer looking for professional desktop printing? You come to Ultimaker’s platform, because they have the ecosystem of partners to support you. Not just today, but also in ten years from now. Having that kind of solution approach would be my wish."
Jürgen’s first interview as CEO of Ultimaker was eye-opening and informative. Key takeaways centered around the company’s platform, focus, evolution, culture, and ecosystem.
“We’re only starting to see the potential of the technology,” says Jürgen. By taking away the complexity and delivering ease of use to customers, he believes the market will broaden.
For a glimpse of this future, take a look at the Ultimaker Innovators list which spotlights leaders using 3D printing to transform the way we think, live, and work.