Become A Partner
At project cologne open innovation takes place in the form of a four-month challenge and consists of five phases that include basic parts of the design thinking process. Find out more about the entire process here or contact us directly.
We define the most important parameters together with your company: What kind of ideas are we actually looking for? What problems should the participants solve? How will the selection process take place? What is the timeframe and compensation for the challenge?
With the launch of the challenge website the search for potential innovators can begin. We advertise current projects on our website, social media channels and all other relevant channels of the universities - and thus reach a large part of the students at Cologne's universities.
You decide the topic of the challenge and define questions in order to obtain diverse approaches to solving your problems. Our team helps you with the planning and shares with you the experiences and insights from past challenges. This creates a solid basis for students to develop the most innovative solutions possible.
2. Kick-Off Event
We celebrate every start of a challenge with a big event. At the kick-off, all interested parties, the mentors from your company and the project cologne team come together to get to know each other. Depending on legal requirements, the event also works very well digitally and offers your company the opportunity to get to know the students, represent your company - and of course to network properly.
The kick-off event offers you the opportunity to present yourself as a attractive company and potential employer to students in a relaxed atmosphere thanks to its casual "after-work" character.
3. Exploration Phase
The so-called "exploration phase" is the first stage of the design thinking process. For the participants, this involves getting a deep understanding of the actual problem, extensive research, and the development of initial - very rough - approaches to a solve a certain problem. The mentors of your company are available to the teams for questions and useful resources - usually a weekly, short jour fixe is organized by the participants themselves.
Through the intensive examination of the problems and questions, your company already receives valuable insights. These may not only help with the current issue, but may also be valuable for other projects.
After the participants have worked out the problem and the challenges, the next step is to come up with ideas. Here, too, the teams organize themselves, but continue to be supported by their mentors. In three exciting weeks, each team develops the observations and findings from the exploration phase into initial ideas, tests them - and rethinks them if necessary. Step by step, solutions emerge that are made conceptually and visually tangible.
The interdisciplinary teams with participants from the Rheinische Fachhochschule Köln (RFH), Universität zu Köln, TH Köln and the Sporthochschule Köln (Cologne Sports University) create a variety of approaches to solutions from outside the company. A real advantage that provides your company with valuable ideas and insights that are difficult or costly to find elsewhere.
5. Prototyping and Testing
Now it gets really exciting: After the exploration and ideation phase, the participants put their ideas through their paces! To do this, they develop a prototype or MVP (Minimum Viable Product) that can be tested in its basic function. The universities provide them with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for this purpose - from 3D printers to the 5G Lab. Based on surveys or user tests, the elaborated prototypes are tested in a real environment. The best thing: mistakes are allowed. Every day, more details, facts and functions become clear and are worked out step by step.
Through the long test phase at the end of the challenge, your company benefits from already validated ideas and the many insights of the teams. These insights are of great value and help your company to better evaluate existing approaches.
6. Final Pitch
After about 14 weeks, the open innovation challenge ends with the final pitch. In front of a jury consisting of representatives of your company, partners and independent experts, the teams present their project and find answers to the critical questions of the jurors.
Your company gets ideas and can decide more easily whether, and in what form, they should be developed further. In addition, it sees the students in a presentation situation, can get to know promising talents at an early stage - and acquire them specifically for a possible collaboration.