38 students started the course Product Innovation in the winter semester 2020 with a Welcome Week. In this innovation project international and interdisciplinary student teams work on tasks of 6 industrial partners.
During the Welcome Week, which took place for the first time, students were given a detailed impression of the project processes of the coming months, during which they would experience and master a product development plan from start to finish in the sense of Experience Based Learning. Of course, this year's industrial partners - Andritz, AVL, Energie Graz, Pankl Racing, OMV and voestalpine Böhler Aerospace - also took part at this event.
In addition to our already international and interdisciplinary student teams, we were also pleased to welcome again a remote team of students from PACE University New York, USA. They were part of a project team during the entire course of the project, which, in addition to intensive work in Graz, also spent two working weeks in New York City to further advance the project. Throughout the project, our teams were methodically supported by internal and external experts. Moreover, they were able to use the facilities of the Schumpeter Laboratory for Innovation and also received a project budget of € 10,000 to realize and test ideas. After a promising project start and the first workshops and checkpoints, the students met a very special challenge this year: COVID-19. Due to the forbidden physical presence of students at the university, the whole project was converted to digital operation. The students have once again shown great flexibility and creativity and have been able to adapt to the new form of operation in a very short time.
Despite the circumstances, interesting ideas and concepts were developed and pursued during the project. For example, Team S&D (soft and dry), with industrial partner Andritz and the task "Optimization of Tissue Machines", was investigating how new technologies in paper and tissue production can provide energy and cost savings. They have found a promising approach, which they are currently testing and evaluating intensively. Team SOMNIC, with industry partner OMV and the task "Automation of pickling corrosion coupons", looked beyond the initial topic. The student team was not only dealing with the automation of the process but also optimized it by introducing new cleaning technologies and concepts.
We are looking forward to interesting presentations, product concepts, prototypes and business plans at this year´s final event.
The Innovation Gala will take place on the 15th of October at the Schumpeter Laboratory for Innovation.