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From lecture theatre to practice: innovative solutions for regional industry

In the project seminar “Innovation Lab”, students from the University of Liechtenstein regularly work on practical projects in collaboration with regional industry. In this semester, important future issues from the field of IT were once again dealt with. The students not only presented creative ideas and innovative solutions, but also initial prototypes.

The University of Liechtenstein is characterised at all levels by its thinking and acting in an entrepreneurial way and sees itself as an innovation hub for shaping the future – within the region and beyond. This is also reflected in the teaching, for example in the project seminar “Innovation Lab”. This course is different because rather than working together on a large-scale transfer project, the students work on several projects in small groups. Regional industry provides the ideas for these projects on a regular basis.

 

Interlinking of teaching and practice

The aim of the seminar is to provide students with practical experience, in particular in project management, while also giving them the opportunity to network with regional companies right at the start of their studies. “The attraction of this seminar is the combination of teaching and practice – and thus the exchange of knowledge and experience” says Dr. Alexander Simons, the seminar leader and assistant professor at the Hilti Chair of Business Process Management of Prof. Dr. Jan vom Brocke. The companies ALPLA, Gebrüder Weiss, Hilti, Hoval, Ivoclar Vivadent, Liebherr and thyssenkrupp Presta have all benefited from this interaction in the current semester. In the past, other companies from the region have taken part in the seminar, for example OMICRON, Swarovski, Wolford and the Liechtenstein National Museum.

 

“Out-of-the-box” ideas

The seminar is internationally oriented; this semester, students from 15 nations have taken part, including students from China, Russia and the US. The companies benefit in particular from the creative ideas of the students, with whom they work together on important future issues in the field of IT – which this time included, for example, the topics virtual reality, chatbots, IT security and robotics. “The seminar has once again demonstrated how synergies between science and industry can lead to success,” says René Derungs, IT Business Process Consultant at Ivoclar Vivadent, who attended the seminar for the third time. “We were impressed not only by the students’ creative ideas but also by the way in which they approached the project.”

 

AR prototype for service technicians

Not only did the students present ideas and concepts, but also initial solutions – for example an augmented reality (AR) application to support service technicians at Hoval. The prototype they developed impressively demonstrates the benefits that AR applications can offer for the maintenance and repair of heating systems: “The project was very challenging, so when the seminar started we assumed that the students would simply present mock-ups”. In fact, they delivered a fully functional prototype, and this impressed us a great deal” says Daniel Bickel, digital technologist at Hoval.

In the project, the students also assessed the projected business benefits and expected development costs of a comprehensive AR service application: “The seminar gave us the opportunity to work on a current, economically relevant problem and to meet representatives of the regional industry in person. The project work not only enabled us to deepen our knowledge in an important area of the future, but also to gain hands-on experience” says Anne Ebert, a student in the Master’s degree programme “Information Systems”, which was part of the Hoval project group.

 

 

Factbox
The “Innovation Lab” seminar is part of the Master’s degree programme “Information Systems” at the Institute of Information Systems. Contact:
Lena Kaiser, lena.kaiser@uni.li
Dr. Alexander Simons, alexander.simons@uni.li