TOP 100 Award (2024)

Beauty hidden champion from NRW once again honored with TOP 100 Award for outstanding innovation in the SME sector


TOP Innovator 2024


Beauty entrepreneur Nicole Simon never shies away from a challenge, no matter how big - she has overcome many in her 30-year career. Today, her company, SK UV-Gele GmbH, which she founded with her husband Oliver Simon in 2010, is one of the leading providers of high-quality nail gels in Europe. In addition to the continuous research and development of marketable products, innovation management is an essential cornerstone of the success of the hidden champion from Mönchengladbach in North Rhine-Westphalia.

In 2024, SK UV Gele GmbH was once again awarded the coveted TOP 100 seal for its innovation management, confirming its position as one of the most innovative companies in the German SME sector. The top-class jury, headed by Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Franke, Head of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, assessed the company on the basis of more than 100 criteria. The jury comprised a total of 23 experts from business, science, politics and the media, including Prof. Dr.h.c. Roland Berger, Miriam Wohlfahrt from Banxware, Prof. Marcel Fratzscher, Anja Förster, Rebels at Work and Frank Thelen, CEO Freigeist Capital:

The five test criteria focused on two questions: Is innovation in the company a product of chance? How successfully are ideas transformed into market successes? Nicole Simon answers these questions and provides insights into her company's innovation management:

How do you make innovations plannable?

Innovations can be planned to the extent that they are given sufficient space. And that is exactly what we do at SK UV Gele. Every innovation starts with a good idea, often from our employees. They are in daily contact with our products and customers, know the various requirements and needs and often have the best ideas - which we channel and develop further with a passion for innovation.

How do you promote space for ideas?

We invite all employees to contribute their ideas without restriction. We create the necessary freedom to do so and offer them full support in developing and implementing them. Thanks to this support, employees feel safe and can be more creative and imaginative. The open and cooperative working culture is the ideal breeding ground for innovations in all areas, such as new product lines, process optimization or the development of new sales channels.

What role does top management play in the context of innovation?

Management plays a key role. Leading employees are role models and it is important to us that they exemplify commitment, innovation and progress. Another important aspect is the involvement of management in the development and formulation of visions and goals. In this way, we create shared perspectives and encourage employees to take responsibility for their work and maximize their potential. Management gets involved as a supporter, advocate and companion. This active presence creates a trusting corporate culture in which ideas can develop and grow.


What makes the success of your innovation management measurable?

In the last two years, we have been able to establish various product innovations on the market. Just a few months ago, we achieved another milestone: PRO CON, a UV gel system 100% free of HQME. The stabilizer HQME is approved for commercial use with a maximum limit of 200 ppm in accordance with the Cosmetics Ordinance. For sale to end consumers, the value must be 0 - we have achieved this and it has been confirmed by independent analytical institutes after testing the products. PRO CON is therefore approved without restriction for the B2C market - a novelty, as there are no comparable products to date. For us, this means the leap from a pure B2B provider to the end consumer business.

PRO CON is just one example of innovative product ideas with which SK UV-Gele repeatedly proves its pioneering role. Effective innovation management is one of the company's standards of excellence in order to continuously set trends - and ensure a significant lead in the market for itself and its customers.

On June 28, 2024, Ranga Yogeshwar will present the TOP 100 Innovation Award at the German SME Summit. Since 2012, the leading science journalist and author has been a mentor at the renowned event, which brings together a who's who from the fields of business, science, politics and the media every year.

"We are particularly proud to receive the TOP 100 seal once again," says Nicole Simon. "Innovation is not a product of chance, it is hard work that is based on more than just a good idea. Continuous innovation is the be-all and end-all - especially in our sector, one of the most fiercely contested in the market."