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“Ideation Week” completed: Innovative business models for local companies

With the first “Ideation Week”, a new and remarkable workshop format has come to an end at Hof University of Applied Sciences, which is intended to promote entrepreneurial spirit and innovative aspirations in the region. During a five-day teaching format, 13 students developed new and innovative business models, future strategies and products and services based on a current problem of a partner company. The university’s “StartupLab” offering is based on the “Design Thinking” learning method and is to be expanded step by step over the next few years.

The participants of the Ideationweek 2021: Jörg Raithel (Project Coordinator Startuplab), Isabelle Völkel (Project Assistant), Anna-Lena Seit (Student Environmental Engineering), Philipp Thron (Business Administration), Frederike Seggewiß (Master Marketing Management), Prof. Dr. Anke Müller, Christian Hartinger (Digital Business), Parth Gujral (Master General Management), Alexander Müller (Managing Director Auto Müller), Alexander Pantusenko (Business Psychology), Leon Müller-Noell (Master Mechanical Engineering), Tabea Keuth (Business Psychology), Malin Jähn (Business Psychology), René Göhring (Head of Makerspace), Jan Kemnitzer (Business Informatics), Lea Schmidt (Environmental Engineering), Julian Laier (Business Informatics), Daniel Beltran (Master Marketing Management) and Katharina Scherdel (Marketing Manager Auto Müller); Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences

“With a changing world of work, the way people learn is also evolving. Hof University of Applied Sciences is taking very innovative steps here to make our students fit for a career in a global and agile environment,” says Jörg Raithel, project coordinator of the StartupLab at Hof University of Applied Sciences, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Together with the scientific directors Prof. Dr. Anke Müller and Prof. Dr. Michael Seidel, he launched Ideationweek at the beginning of the year.

Solving real challenges faced by companies

The goal was to create a multi-day event where participants can try out new working methods in an interdisciplinary, hands-on and project-specific way. The event is comparable to a hackathon. “In the process, students work in teams of four to five people, dive deep into a new subject matter, expand their technical and methodological expertise, and learn to organize themselves independently and commit to a common goal.” And more

The exciting thing is: we don’t work on a model during Ideationweek, we don’t simulate. Everything is real: real customers, real challenges.”

Jörg Raithel, Project Coordinator

Case study automotive industry

A company from the region, the Mercedes dealership Müller, stood by as a committed cooperation partner during the implementation and contributed its real-life problems. Digitalization in particular meant challenges, but also a wealth of opportunities in the automotive industry

Digitalization is having a considerable impact on the areas of service and sales in the automotive trade. Modern cars now monitor themselves to a large extent. This is changing the demands on us as service providers. At the same time, our customers’ mobility needs and information behavior are changing, and so are the demands on our sales.”

Alexander Müller, Managing Director of Auto Müller

Alexander Müller, Managing Director of Auto Müller, welcomes the students together with Katharina Scherdel (Marketing Manager Auto Müller) to the dealership’s premises;

The seminar participants had to think through these challenges.

Qualified support

The students went through process steps that were closely based on the design thinking approach, a method developed at the renowned US university Stanford. After immersing themselves in and understanding the problem and the relevant target groups, they applied various methods to develop concrete solutions and initial prototypes, which were then tested and presented. The participants were accompanied by experienced coaches, university teaching staff and experts from the company. Plant tours and participation in internal discussions quickly gave them an insight into the company’s operations.

Digital solutions dominate

“Aspects of digitalization were conspicuously present in the solutions developed. Accordingly, the car dealerships of the future must be individual and flexible in their service and, above all, digital,” says Jörg Raithel. In concrete terms, the seminar finally produced

  • a concept for a digital membership card for exclusive customer care with corresponding benefits (invitations to events, discounts, exclusive network)
  • a virtual sales consultant using virtual reality, and
  • the creation of a complete online experience with full digitization of the consulting and sales process.
The participants of the Ideationweek were happy about the invitation of the partner company; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences

Successful premiere in difficult times

“From our point of view, the event was a complete success – especially given the circumstances that only allowed it to be held on screen,” said the project manager. The event was concluded, however, by a visit to Presence at Autohaus Müller, where Managing Director Alexander Müller provided an insight into current developments in the automotive industry.

Promoting the drive for innovation

Ideation Week is another building block for firmly anchoring entrepreneurial spirit and innovative drive at the university, but also in the region, and for giving students the chance to get to grips with modern working methods at an early stage. These skills play an increasingly important role in the rapidly changing world of work.”

Prof. Dr. Anke Müller

Her colleague Prof. Dr. Michael Seidel emphasizes

With the Ideation Week, we didn’t just want to impart problem-solving skills, but also to give people the courage to go their own way and also to include setting up a company as an option alongside the classic career in corporate groups or small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Prof. Dr. Michael Seidel

From now on, the Ideation Week will always be offered in the summer semester

Rainer Krauß
Jörg Raithel

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