E&I celebrates anniversary - The 1,000th innovation project together with practice partners
The Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E&I) at WU Vienna celebrates the thousandth successful innovation project. For 20 years, WU students in the Institute's courses have been cooperating with practice partners ranging from start-ups to SMEs and multinationals to non-profit organizations. The projects represent an important win-win-win solution and strengthen the native innovation ecosystem.
The thousandth E&I innovation project took place with Festo, the global market leader in automation technology and technical education solutions. The starting point was the practical question of how to innovatively improve the user experience of the Festo LX learning platform. A motivating and intuitive interface is crucial for the market success of such business models - Festo came to E&I with this difficult question. The students spent a semester applying their theoretical knowledge to this problem, identifying best practices, conducting interviews, and thus developing concrete strategic proposals for Festo. The students were supported not only by the course instructors, but also by the institute's network, including consultants from BCG or strategy&.
Students, practice and institute benefit
"The cooperation with the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is very valuable for us because of the research results and the creativity of the students in our projects. We get a lot of strategic impulses from this, but also very practical improvement potential for our products" comments Oliver Niese, Member of the Management Board Festo Didactic SE and Head of Digital Business Festo SE & Co. KG, on the cooperation with the institute.
A main characteristic of this project and the previous 999 projects of the institute with large companies such as Microsoft, Siemens and Rewe Group, SMEs such as MAM Baby, Neni and OeNPAY, start-ups such as Rebel Meat, hokify and whatchado, NPOs such as Médicins sans Frontières and Caritas or research institutions such as Fraunhofer and CERN is the win-win-win situation: the students deepen their theoretical knowledge through practical application and experience the value of their skills. The project partners receive highly professional, often particularly creative, and unconventional solutions, as the students often approach the problems with much less "intellectual blinkers". But the close contact with practice is also relevant for the institute's staff - often the practical problems are the starting point for exciting international research projects.
Important impulses for the innovation ecosystem
The number of 1,000 projects also represents an outstandingly high figure internationally. E&I courses have won numerous national and international awards. "Such a success is only possible because we have incredibly entrepreneurial students - and their energy and creativity is supported by a highly professional Institute team," emphasizes E&I founder and Institute director Prof. Nikolaus Franke, who brought the concept with him from his stay at MIT in 2001. Numerous start-ups and spin-offs in the Viennese start-up and innovation ecosystem have emerged as a result of cooperation projects, teaching, and the Institute's close networking with practitioners. Many of the Institute's 4,334 graduates to date hold important positions in these. "The impact of the Institute on the start-up scene and the entire innovation sector is considerable - it not only demonstrates the entrepreneurial spirit of the Institute but is representative of the social relevance of WU" says Rector Univ.Prof. DI. Dr. Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger.