As part of Ideationweek, students at Hof University of Applied Sciences spent five days using design thinking to develop concepts and innovative ideas based on a real-world task. The partner company for this year’s event was the startup Triebwerk24 from Lichtenfels, which wants to open fully digitalized supermarkets with 24-hour access in Döhlau and Sparneck and thus improve the supply of food and daily needs in small towns.
Ideationweek is a new teaching format that has been offered at Hof University of Applied Sciences since 2021. The focus is on practical orientation and collaboration between students from different degree programs. The event is comparable to a hackathon. The goal is to develop innovative ideas within just five days based on a real-life task from a partner company – in this case, how a modern village store should be designed from the customer’s point of view.
For this year’s Ideationweek, the startup Triebwerk24 from Lichtenfels was on board. The founder Sebastian Morgenroth has developed a concept for village stores that are to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that manage without sales staff thanks to digitization, and that are to ensure that smaller towns in rural regions in particular are supplied with daily necessities and, above all, regional foodstuffs. The first stores in the region are planned for Döhlau and Sparneck.
“I am delighted about the support and cooperation with Hof University of Applied Sciences,” says Sebastian Morgenroth, who himself completed his business studies in Hof a few years ago and, with professional experience under his belt, has now founded his own company
For us, Ideationweek is a huge opportunity to let students from different courses of study take a look at the challenges we face. The students come from very different disciplines and thus bring a variety of perspectives. Their unbiased view helps us enormously to further develop our concept.”Sebastian Morgenroth, entrepreneur
Idea development with design thinking
During Ideationweek, students learn about different innovation methods and apply them directly in a practical case. The interactive teaching concept is based primarily on the design thinking method. Design thinking is a systematic approach to solving complex problems that is often used in innovation management to develop new ideas
In Design Thinking, the initial focus is not on the technical solvability, but on the needs of the users. We look at the task through the user’s glasses during Ideationweek.”Jörg Raithel, project coordinator of the Startuplab
He continues, “The students go through various process steps during the five days, from internalizing and understanding the task, to market research and customer surveys, creative idea development, building prototypes, testing on customers and the final presentation of the results. The week is intense, the workload very high,” says Raithel. “We work on weekends and sometimes late into the night. That kind of thing also welds the teams together, and it’s great to see how the students dig in to make a good pitch at the end.” The teams are supported by method experts Yiheng Cen and Viktor Miller from the innovation agency Tomspike in Berlin, who coach the students and guide them through the process.
Working like Google
“Ideationweek is an exceptional course and a great experience,” says Sophie Hämmerlein, one of the participants who is a sixth-semester business psychology student at Hof. “The environment here at Einstein1 and the way we learn here is really something special. That’s how I imagine working at Google.”
At the end of the week, the students presented the ideas they had worked on to a jury and a selected audience of experts. Among the guests was the mayor of Döhlau, Marc Ultsch, in whose community one of Triebwerk24’s stores is to be built. Norbert Heimbeck, Managing Director of the Genussregion Oberfranken, was also enthusiastic about the students’ commitment and their ideas
The new generation of village stores that use the possibilities of digitalization are a highly topical issue and a good way to maintain or regain supply in the smaller villages.”Norbert Heimbeck, Managing Director Genussregion Oberfranken
As the world of work changes, so does learning
“For the university, Ideationweek is another building block in teaching to promote entrepreneurship at the university and to give students the chance to get to grips with and try out modern working methods at an early stage,” say Professor Anke Müller and Professor Michael Seidel, who together run the Startuplab at Hof University of Applied Sciences. The Startuplab supports students in developing business ideas and founding their own companies
The skills taught in Ideationweek play an increasingly important role in the rapidly changing world of work. With such formats and contact with startups, we also want to encourage students to go their own way and also consider starting a business as a career option.”Prof. Dr. Michael Seidel