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Ideationweek: Students develop solutions for fawn rescue

As part of Ideation Week, students at Hof University of Applied Sciences developed innovative ideas based on a practical task. This year, the topic was saving fawns during grassland mowing. Ideationweek is an interactive teaching format that was offered for the third time in the summer semester.

A total of 18 students from eight different majors participated in Ideationweek. The event is organized by Professor Dr. Oliver Mauroner (front, 4th from left) and Jörg Raithel (front, 5th from left). Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

For this year’s Ideationweek, the association Kitzrettung Oberfranken with its chairwoman Britta Engelhardt was a cooperation partner. The association takes care of the rescue of fawns endangered by the mowing of meadows in summer on a voluntary basis. “The young fawns have no escape reflex during their first weeks of life and are therefore exposed to great danger during mowing,” says Engelhardt. Every year, up to 100,000 fawns are killed in this way in Germany.

Previous search methods very time-consuming and labor-intensive

The most common method of rescuing fawns is currently to search the meadows, either with long human chains or with drones equipped with a thermal imaging camera. The problem with this is that while drones can be used to quickly search large areas, thermal imaging cameras only work when outdoor temperatures are low in the morning hours. In any case, rescue operations require a lot of coordination, and it usually takes a lot of volunteers because most requests from farmers cluster in a short period of time. “And that’s the bottleneck,” Engelhardt says.

I’m very happy about the support and cooperation with Hof University. The students bring an unrestricted view from the outside. This diversity of perspectives and their know-how enable new approaches to solutions.”

Britta Engelhard, Kitzrettung Oberfranken e.V.

Idea development via design thinking

We try to develop ideas to improve the current procedure. We’re all about teamwork, creativity and getting to the bottom of things.”

Prof. Dr. Oliver Mauroner, innovation and start-up management at Hof University of Applied Sciences

“We are trying to develop ideas to improve the current procedure. We are all about teamwork, creativity and getting to the bottom of things,” says Dr. Oliver Mauroner, professor of innovation and start-up management at Hof University of Applied Sciences. He organizes Ideationweek together with Jörg Raithel from Startuplab, a contact point for people interested in founding a company at Hof University of Applied Sciences.

During Ideationweek, each team develops an idea to a first prototype, which is presented in a final presentation at the end. Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

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, which is frequently used in innovation management to develop new ideas.

In Design Thinking, the initial focus is not on technical solvability, but on the needs of the users. We look at the task through the user’s glasses during Ideationweek.”

Jörg Raithel, organizer

The students go through various process steps, from thinking through the task, market research and customer surveys, creative idea development to building prototypes, testing on customers and the final presentation of the results.

“Ideationweek is an exceptional course and a great experience,” says Sophia Gerling, one of the participants and a business student. “The environment here at the incubator and the way we learn here is special.”

The ideas developed were presented at the Einstein1 digital incubator;
Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

At the end of the week, the four teams presented the ideas they had developed to a jury. The proposed solutions include a draft concept to market fawn rescue to tourists, an app to make it easier to search and bring farmers and volunteers together, a special camera that would use a drone to make it possible to search even during daylight hours, and a concept for a public coordination office that would act as a mediator between the players. “I am thrilled with the ideas that the students developed during the five days,” says a delighted Britta Engelhardt. “I am taking away many valuable impulses for our work.”

Jörg Raithel

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