An exceptional Place in the Land of Ideas: “Jugend gründet”

On 10 June 2008, “Jugend gründet” was named one of “365 landmarks” by the Land of Ideas campaign, an initiative promoting Germany as a place of business. Not only “Jugend gründet” is innovative, it is sustained by passion and a can-do spirit. In the online competition, teens exploited a high-tech product idea just as they would in real life.

The competition for secondary school and vocational students is run by Steinbeis Transfer Center for Business Development at Pforzheim University. More than 3330 students participated last year. “Jugend grundet” is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and is on the list of government-founded competitions of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Lander in the Federal Republic of Germany. The initiative also belongs to the consortium for nationwide secondary school competitions.

“Jugend gründet” stands for

  • competing to have the best idea
  • call it “having fun at work”
  • where intensive talent meets entrepreneurial mindedness

Students can learn “dry” business basics in an exciting way, from hatching a business idea to successfully managing a virtual company. Part of the competition involves students picking up business skills “on the job” – even the ground rules of business administration. “Jugend grundet” helps students to become team players and provides insight into the impacts of business decisions. The competition also encourages students to work and conduct research under their own steam as well as to put inventive ideas into practice within given structures.

This helps participants to learn more about their individual strengths – essential knowledge when later choosing a profession. Students do not need previous knowledge of business administration, but they must be curious, ready to take responsibility for their own learning and enjoy deciding and playing an active role in how they unfold themselves. Anyone can participate, but prizes are restricted to secondary school and vocational students between 16 and 21. The grand prize: a trip to Silicon Valley (USA), financed by Steinbeis Foundation.

netvico nominated for design award

Awards for excellent design are thick on the ground in Germany. The Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany, however, is known as “the award of awards”. All the more reason for netvico, a fledgling company supported by Steinbeis, to celebrate: three of its products garnered a Design Award 2009 nomination.

The Design Award is synonymous with the strictest of requirements. Products which are nominated must be able to point to national or international awards already in their trophy cabinet. Furthermore, companies cannot submit their own names for consideration – only the collected Federal Ministries of Economics, both at the state and federal level, decide who is allowed to compete.

Founded in 2001, netvico develops and distributes software for out-of-home media. With the nomination, this Stuttgart-based company will let a jury pass judgement on its complete range of products. The digital directional assistance system (storey directory), the LED floor and the illuminated wall – three innovative communication systems from netvico, nominated for the Design Award 2009 and already recognized for their excellence with other accolades, such as the red dot award, the if communication award and the viscom award.

Knowledge transfer in education

The right start is everything in education. For the first time in its history, Steinbeis is giving schools and preschools new momentum, by founding the Steinbeis Transfer Center Learning and Education. It is directed by Eva Schumacher, a professor of elementary education at the University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd. “Our highly capable professionals are what make us so successful in knowledge and technology transfer. Until now, our educational system in Germany hasn’t made the most of what preschool kids can learn. Especially at this age, children can absorb a lot – and quickly. This is where our work begins,” says Uwe Haug, explaining the Steinbeis Foundation involvement. He currently heads up the foundation’s R&D.

The Steinbeis Transfer Center assists the city of Oberkochen in establishing a local “education network”. Says Mayor Peter Traub: “Education is essential. But it doesn’t begin at school. That’s why the city of Oberkochen is joining forces with the Steinbeis Center to build up an ‘education network.’ Its aim: promote early childhood education and help schools and kindergartens work together more closely. This will also help ease children’s transition from kindergarten to school. Right from day one, our city, the Steinbeis Center and educational institutes achieved a good working relationship in taking stock of the current situation, and this has uncovered resources that we can capitalize on.”

Daycare centers and elementary schools are increasingly becoming one entity. This development is in line with the state’s new education policies, ones that resurrect the ideas of education reforms from a hundred years ago. Hence, the Steinbeis Center also offers Montessori degree courses – and the demand is running high. The ALMONTE “modular course” at the State Academy in Bad Wildbad (in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Education as well as the State Association for Montessori Education) is based on a new idea hatched at the Steinbeis Transfer Center. Here, schoolteachers and childcare professionals complete joint training programs, including both theoretical and academic components. This project is supported by the Heidehof Foundation, EnBW Baden-Wurttemberg and the University of Education Schwabisch Gmund.

Different kinds of transitions between schools are the focus of EXPAT, a project planned jointly with the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce. EXPAT supports families that are being relocated abroad by an employer. Many traditional preparation sessions held by companies concentrate on where the employee will be working. The factors behind a fulfilling family life are often neglected. The EXPATService also assists children and teenagers stay on the right educational path, helping them move smoothly between schools.

Partners and spouses can also take advantage of intercultural instruction. Principal Gunter Boos, former director of the German European School in Singapore and EXPAT co-founder, explains, “Parents coming from Germany come from different areas throughout the nation, so they each have different expectations of the school system in their new environment, based on their own school experience. This is why individual consultations are so important – wherever they are, children need to feel comfortable in their day-to-day lives. This means finding the right kind of schooling for them, one that allows them to continue their studies when they return to Germany.” The first workshop is scheduled for Spring 2009 and will cover destination countries in southeast Asia.

Applied technologies - successful product and process innovations

Participants numbered over 300 at the Technology Day in Bolzano, Italy, co-hosted by the Steinbeis Technology Group and the TIS innovation park in Bolzano. Held at the end of July, the event was part of a larger Steinbeis “Applied Technologies” program.

Luisa Gnecchi, Chief Advisor for Innovation, Christof Oberrauch, President of the Business Association of South Tyrol, and Dr. Alfred Guarriello, President of the TIS, opened the event by welcoming representatives from business, academia and politics. One of the underlying ideas of Technology Day: technological advances are far more important to stimulating economic growth in industrial countries than playing a numbers game to boost the “work” and “capital” factors of production. As a result, the conference focused on how technology can drive innovation. Guest speakers and attendees alike explored and discussed how to master, design, refine and apply industrial production technology within the larger frameworks of the “product-technology complex” as well as factories and organizational structures.

Dr. Hubert Hofer, Director of the TIS innovation park in Bolzano, spoke about the fundamentals of knowledge and technology transfer and elaborated on the role TIS plays in the South Tyrol economy and in meeting international needs. Prof. Gunter Henn, a professor at the Technical University in Dresden and an architect whose projects include the Autostadt in Wolfsburg and the “Glaserne Manufaktur” in Dresden, gave a speech entitled “Rethinking Working Environments”. Intellectual activity demands concentration and communication – without them, innovation will grind to a halt. Professor Henn also touched on the options and solutions facing companies such as Volkswagen. Andrea Bonfatti, head of R&D at Lamborghini, discussed the car manufacturer’s structured approach to making technological breakthroughs. Lamborghini is the Italian standard- bearer in terms of ceasless product innovation and using the latest technology and materials. Managing director of Cicrespi Spa, Antonio Villi won the 2007 Best Innovation Award 2007 from Boccon University. He provided details on how Cicrespi developed original solutions to identify, keep track of and launch products and processes. He also explained how his company manages to maintain and build on these high technological standards over several years.

In his speech, Prof. Ulrich Gunther of the Steinbeis Technology Group covered science and business, international networks, and our preparedness and willingness to step up to challenges down the road. He outlined the defining aspects and track record of Steinbeis technology transfer, pointing to the technical degree programs at Steinbeis University Berlin to demonstrate how the constellation of “transfer, training and employee development” can have a lasting impact.

Lectures were supplemented with advanced workshops. Dr. Hofer und Prof. Gunther closed the event by unveiling the new European platform for working partnerships. Having expressed a firm desire to help Europe grow together, all parties involved agreed to join forces in knowledge and technology transfer, supporting training and employee development and learning from each other’s expertise. Those assembled also signed an agreement to work together across borders and live out their principles: master the basics, shape innovation, push for progress in technology. The group included: CCSO Fribourg, CET Wrocław, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology, the IMA company in Dresden, the Steinbeis Technology Group, the Steinbeis Foundation, Steinbeis University Berlin, transIT at the University of Innsbruck and the TIS innovation park in Bolzano.


Cutting-edge grinding technology and superfinishing seminar a rousing success

Baden-Württemberg is known throughout Europe for its high density of mechanical engineering, automotive and medical technology companies. Premium quality – not the production of inexpensive products – lies at the heart of the region’s success. One reason behind that success: a solid command of superfinishing and grinding technology. This past spring, the seventh annual “Cutting-edge grinding technology and superfinishing” seminar explored this very topic in the Haus der Wirtschaft in Stuttgart.

Boasting over 370 participants, the seminar is the largest of its kind in the world, spotlighting 21 issues in superfinishing and grinding technology raised by research and industry specialists. A matching exhibit was on display. The conference was organized by Taghi Tawakoli, Director of Steinbeis Transfer Center Advanced Engineering Technology and the Center of Excellence for Grinding Technology and Superfinishing at Furtwangen University. Attendees were welcomed by Baden-Wurttemberg’s State Secretary Richard Drautz and Prof. Dr. Rolf Schofer, Dean of Furtwangen University. The guest speaker list was a “who’s who” from industry and research institutes such as the University of Stuttgart and the University of Bremen, the Technical University of Berlin, RWTH Aachen University, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and Furtwangen University. Industry’s strong showing demonstrated the relevance of these issues, revealing that new findings in grinding technology and superfinishing are urgently needed – and expectations are high.

SUB master’s degree program for civil servants

In keeping pace with the changing demographics of civil servants and coping with growing competition for qualified employees, it is essential for authorities to hire and retain mid-level and senior managers – managers who are able to think and act strategically and are equipped to tackle complex problems. To meet this need, Steinbeis University Berlin offers a two-year master’s degree program for people in employment.

Coursework explores strategic alignment and how to create a firm course of action based on the strategies that public authorities and their organizations use to achieve their goals. This helps employees move from a more bureaucratic mindset to one guided by the tenets of corporate management. This postgraduate Steinbeis master’s degree is based on the dual principles of transfer and application. It also includes a specific, on-site project at the student’s current or future place of employment. The degree program runs for two years.

Practical coursework covers

  • project management
  • innovation managemen
  • information management and analysis
  • strategy management
  • marketing management
  • financial management
  • HR management

as well as a study trip abroad.

Students who succeed in this program can apply their newfound knowledge to a number of areas: HR and financial management, budgeting, conducting cost-performance analyses, corporate investment, building and energy management, sports, cultural activities and NPO management, city and regional planning, as well as managing projects in civil engineering and urban renovation.


Hans Drexler
Steinbeis Transfer Institute Public Management (Stuttgart)

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