My Corona Semester: How E&I students master the challenge of distance learning


One student team of the project course "Consulting" share their story of how they successfully created an innovation index for Austria's largest electricity provider: VERBUND.

How can innovation be measured? As part of the project course Consulting, our team was given the task by VERBUND in the summer semester 2020 - also known as the first Corona semester - to create an index that enables innovation to be measured. After intensive research and the development of different dimensions of innovation measurement, we as a team succeeded in creating the VERBUND Innovation Index.

At the beginning of the project, it was important for us to create a theoretical basis in order to gain a uniform understanding of what constitutes innovation, which factors influence innovation and how this can be best evaluated. As a next step, we determined the status quo at VERBUND in order to find out which key figures are already being calculated and which ones are suitable for supplementation. On the basis of the knowledge generated in this way and in close cooperation with VERBUND, we finally evaluated and selected various KPIs that are particularly suitable for making innovation at VERBUND measurable. Finally, the VERBUND Innovation Index was created from these KPIs using a suitable mathematical model. The successful completion of the project and the entire semester was then celebrated together with VERBUND's project partners.

This semester was particularly exciting because of the sudden switch to distance learning due to Corona. As a team, we only had the opportunity to get to know each other at the two-day kickoff event at the beginning of the semester, so we had to quickly find a way to work together efficiently with the help of video calls. This presented us with challenges on many levels, such as conducting important interviews or obtaining necessary literature from the library. However, this change also brought advantages, such as the possibility to work together on our project at any time, which (unfortunately) also ended up in one or ten night shifts. The nice thing about it, however, was that thanks to these video calls, which lasted up to 12 hours and could be entered and exited at any time, a friendship really did develop. After an intensive semester, we had not only created a VERBUND innovation index, but also formed a team on which we can continue to rely in the future.The six of us try to meet again regularly, now more in private and less often in a professional setting.

Finally, we would like to thank our project partner VERBUND, in particular Viola Frank and Markus Kienler and our course instructors, Linn Kretzschmar and Sophie Quach, who all made a considerable contribution to the success of this project.

Written by Teresa Brunnauer and Andreas Leopold

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