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The E&I Touchdown: Pitch Battle for Innovation on June 12, 2023


Building bridges between theory and practice

On June 12, the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E&I) at WU Vienna celebrated more than 30 innovation projects conducted by students over the course of the last semester. In only 45 seconds, students pitched their work from collaborations with start-ups, established companies and research organizations such as FESTO, the Austrian National Bank, hokify, Varta, Wiener Lokalbahnen and Fraunhofer.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Franke and the E&I Institute greeted 400 people sharing the Institute’s interest in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at WKO. The crowd was made up of experts from the Start-Up Ecosystem, Entrepreneurial Leaders who were invited to an exclusive Aperitivo, as well as students, faculty, and business practitioners from a vast array of different industries.

Expert Jury meets Interactive Crowd Voting

During the event, the best pitches were selected by a jury of experts as well as the audience. The jury was composed of diverse specialists from interesting backgrounds: Britta Heissenberger (Global HR Lead at IBM), Iskra Stojanova (Projects Coordinator at the UNEP), Janine Leitner (Interim Area Manager at Amazon), Joachim Techt (Managing Partner at viable), Johanna Wiesner (Startup Navigation & Operations Manager at Abundance Gate), Julia Reilinger (Managing Director at B&C Innovation Investments), Kambis Kohansal Vajargah (Head of Startup Services at WKO) and Marlene Schilling (Head of Group Finance at Innerio).

The expert jury selected the best eight teams to move into the Pitch Battle for Innovation, where the crowd voted after each battle to determine who moves to further rounds. The winner of the Pitch Battle for Innovation was the Bachelor student team around the startup Zenyth Innovations. Zenyth Innovations strives to provide a sustainable solution for cement from excrements. Cement makes up only 20% of concrete, but is responsible for 80% of its emissions. For the SIMC Master, the best pitch award went to POMO, which aims to support children with speech difficulties through a gamified approach at speech therapy. The winners of the MBA demo day were flowy, a speech training app focusing on AI and deep learning to improve speeches, talks, and pitches, as well as rentus.ai, a digital sales agent to make renting for apartments easier and faster.

E&I goes Alpbacher Finanzsymposium

At this Touchdown, there was more at stake than merely winning the Pitch Battle for Innovation. E&I Touchdown special guest Nikolai Rizzo (Manufacturing Lead Austria at Microsoft Austria) generously awarded live tickets for the 37th Alpbacher Finanzsymposium in October to eight selected student teams. The Alpbacher Finanzsymposium is one of the most prestigious and exclusive financial symposia in Europe, hosting more than 500 CFOs as well as other decision makers from business, academia, and politics. This year, for the very first time, the E&I Institute will be part of the official opening evening on October 11, where the eight selected teams have the opportunity to pitch their projects in front of the whole audience. In addition to this unique networking opportunity, the students will also get the chance to win exciting prizes (e.g., one-on-one meetings with leading CFOs and a Microsoft surface). Furthermore, the eight students will receive a personal pitch workshop at Microsoft’s HQ in Vienna during the summer break.

Congratulations to all winners and Alpbach participants!

The E&I Touchdown was generously supported by our host WKO, our main partner BCG, and our partners Red Bull, Brau Union and Almdudler. The event is in consonance with the eXplore! funding initiative founded by the B&C Private Foundation and Michael Tojner, which aims to bring the spirit of research and entrepreneurship closer together.

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