euVENTION Summer School – a complete cycle of innovation in just two weeks

“Professional organization, excellent speakers, experienced coaches, two full weeks and six multidisciplinary teams full of passion for innovation. We needed no more to get the most out of euVENTION!” Emma, one of the participants of the Summer School at Heidelberg University is still excited, even though the event is over for a few days. But what has happened?

First there was the question, how to improve prevention and treatment options for people, who are at risk or suffer from chronic diseases? And how can a viable and desired product or service be created?

A program was designed to run the full cycle of innovation and tackle both questions. Starting with three days of Design Thinking, followed by two days to build a working prototyp and three days for creating a Business Model to create a final pitch presentation. With this proposal a consortium of partners from academia and business from the Netherlands and Germany have won one of only five international Summer Schools funded by EIT Health within Europe in 2017.

Six real world challenges, from partners like Merck or Braun Aesculap

On Monday, September 11th, the selected 36 participants, out of more than 80 applicants, assembled in the Marsilius Arkaden of Heidelberg University. After an academic introduction the participants had to decide about the topic, they wanted to work on: Six real world challenges, from partners like Merck or Braun Aesculap. These challenges had very different scopes, from building a digitized rollator to implementing a regional health management.

Within the three days of Design Thinking the teams evaluated, how the best solution for the problem could look like. They conducted in total more than 30 interviews with experts and users and three of the six groups realized, that the problem is different from the original challenge, or even does not exist. Already here the first pivots had to take place. With guidance by Frank Rust and his coaches the teams had a very intense team to develop a meaningful solution.

After these three days of thinking, we decided for a break. The teams were reorganized and every participant had the chance to either build their own 3D-printer, learn how to program micro-controller or get additional leadership skills. These tools were used in the Hackathon on Saturday. Additional IT guys joined the teams to help them to build working prototypes for their solutions. The last people left the building after 3am in the morning.

Week two started with new coaches. Georg Fischer and his coaches from SAP supported the teams to develop a tangible business model. The participants had to learn, that innovation happens, when they find a solution, that the customers want, that they can build and that allows them to earn money. Some of the teams again had to change their solution. Even though users loved the idea, nobody wanted to pay. This is especially true in the health sector, where the customer is usually the health insurance and not the patient.

It was an important task to create a network for these young bright minds

Beside working on the challenge within their teams it was an important task to create a network for these young bright minds. Excursions to the Heidelberg Castle, a boat tour on the neckar river or an evening reception in the great lecture hall of Heidelberg Unversity gave the participants the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships. Of special value was here, that two EIT Health Alumni had different roles within the summer school. One of the challenges was owned by an EIT Health Alumni and the CEO of a portugese startup came over to coach the teams for the final presentations.

After an additional day to prepare, the teams presented their results in a pitch presentation. Judges from SAP, Techniker Krankenkasse, Roche and Heidelberg University gave very helpful feedback and encouraged the teams to proceed. Many of those want to do so!

More information about the summer school can be found on

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