Design Think­ing Lab

Designing customer-oriented products and services in a structured, fast and creative way: The Design Thinking Lab enables the sustainable development of technological innovations, the rapid construction of prototypes and can trigger change processes in the company.

What is Design Think­ing?

[Translate to English:] Design Thinking: Ausgefüllte Post-Its auf Whiteboard

Design thinking is establishing itself as a very successful innovation method for developing digital products, services and business models in many companies. But why is this method currently receiving so much attention? Design thinking enables customer- and user-centred prototypes to be developed and tested within a few days. Digitalisation, the networking of smart devices and the development of artificial intelligence offer many possible applications for design thinking.

The new Design Thinking Lab at the Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences combines expertise in the agile innovation method. Teaching, transfer and research are the focus here. This newly established Innovation Space offers ideal conditions for developing and testing innovative solutions. Design thinking has been part of the teaching at the HNU for many years and has been used in the past in transfer and industrial projects with companies such as AUDI AG, Daimler TSS GmbH and Liebherr Hausgeräte GmbH.

Laboratory team
Prof. Dr. Klaus Lang
Prof. Dr. Daniel Schallmo
Katharina Ehmig-Klassen
Daniel Hasler
Research focus
• Design Thinking in medium-sized companies
• Conception of digital solutions
• Development of new digital business models

Design Think­ing pro­cess model

Design Thinking process model according to Schallmo & Lang (2020)
Design Thinking process model according to Schallmo & Lang (2020)

Them­atic fields and areas of ap­plic­a­tion for re­search, teach­ing and trans­fer

The current areas of work of the laboratory include the following topics:



  • Conducting courses for students
  • Student projects / elective courses


  • Implementation of design thinking workshops with industry partners
  • Training courses and in-house seminars
  • Design Thinking regulars' tables
  • Lectures
  • Research projects with industry partners


  • Publications
  • Books

Com­pleted Design Think­ing pro­jects of the Neu-Ulm Uni­versity of Ap­plied Sci­ences (HNU)

Multivac, Wolfertschwenden (May 2021) [conducted virtually]

Design Chal­lenge and Solu­tions

  • In an online-based compact week, 17 HNU students developed digital solutions for the prevention and improvement of quality in packaging machines.
  • In their challenge, the four interdisciplinary teams dealt with the topic "digital solutions for quality prevention and improvement of packaging machines".
  • After an intensive analysis of the task and interviews with employees and customers, the students developed ideas in virtual teams, realized software prototypes and tested them with employees and customers.

To the website of Multivac (opens in a new window)

Wieland, Ulm (March 2021) [conducted virtually]

Design Chal­lenge and Solu­tions

  • 20 students from different courses of study at HNU worked on four thematic focal points in a virtual event format

  • The virtual workshop focused on Wieland's customer service, which provides the basis for developing innovative solutions

  • The solutions developed include various service concepts. Wieland already has a broad portfolio of services to support customers in various situations
  • The company was livestreamed during the workshop as the teams presented their findings

To the press release

To the website of Wieland (opens in a new window)

Landmann, Osterholz-Scharmbeck (October 2020)

Design Chal­lenge and Solu­tions

  • 37 students worked on the Design Challenge as part of the hybrid event format.
  • The challenges to be overcome included: increasing product attractiveness by adapting the UX design accordingly, exploiting digital potential in the B2B and B2C sectors, and tasks relating to the optimization of customer communication.
  • The solutions developed include various event concepts to address customers in a more targeted manner in the future and to place them at the center of the company. Shareconomy approaches were also developed - for example, through decentralized rental of the barbecues
  • For visualization purposes, the participants designed and built mock-ups for innovative apps as well as classic, haptic models made of various materials.

To the press release

To the Landmann website (opens in a new window)

illerSENIO, Vöhringen (May 2020) [conducted virtually]

Design Chal­lenge and Solu­tions

  • 22 students from the faculties of Health Management and Information Management at the Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU) work in interdisciplinary teams for one week.
  • The five teams are working on various topics from the field of outpatient care: "Digitalisation in the care landscape"; "Counselling interviews in outpatient care"; "Training quota in care", "Personnel recruitment in times of skills shortage" and "Cross-generational leadership culture".
  • The solutions developed include: a social media concept, including samples for the recruitment of new trainees; an innovative and integrative trial work concept for future skilled workers; an approach for the compilation of care services by people in need of care and their relatives; a concept for the targeted handling of employees' concerns; and a concept for a laboratory to test new technologies and products with people in need of care and employees.

To the press release (opens in a new window)

To the illerSENIO website (opens in a new window)

Fischer Verkaufsfahrzeuge, Günzburg (October 2019)

Design Chal­lenge and Solu­tion

  • In a compact week, 12 students each of the HNU and the partner university GUtech from Oman developed digital solutions for shop floor and order management.
  • Proposed solutions developed by the students included a quotation configurator for customers, a construction plan management system, a digital dashboard for project tracking as well as explanatory videos for product handling by customers

To the press release (opens in a new window)

To the Fischer Sales Vehicles website (opens in a new window)

Liebherr-Hausgeräte GmbH, Ochsenhausen (March 2019)

Design Chal­lenge and Solu­tions

  • Collaboration of 22 students of the HNU and the COLMAN University, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • 1-week design thinking workshop with the host Liebherr Hausgeräte in Ochsenhausen.
  • In 5 teams, the students develop apps and concepts for the smart digital refrigerator, intelligent shopping lists and healthy meal recommendations based on existing supplies
  • Liebherr now offers the HNGRY app, which has already been downloaded over 100,000 times from the Google Play Store. In Apple's App Store, it is listed among the top 25 apps in the "Food and Drink" section

To the press release

To the website of Liebherr Hausgeräte (opens in a new window)

To the Hngry app for iOS (opens in a new window)and Android (opens in a new window)

Daimler TSS GmbH, Ulm (March 2018)

Design Chal­lenge and Solu­tions

  • Collaboration of 16 students of the HNU and the COLMAN University, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • 1-week 'Design Thinking and Hackathon Workshop' with the host Daimler TSS Ulm.
  • Design Challenge: How can potential Mercedes-Benz Electric Drive customers (e.g. early adopters) be excited about electric mobility in a digital way?
  • Proposed solutions included a "Social Owners Club" for electric vehicle owners with exclusive events and premium benefits, as well as the campaign "Ero - Mecerdes' E-Mobility superhero", which uses explanatory videos on the topic of electric mobility as a superpower and co-creation via social media to attract attention and create ecological awareness.

To the press release (opens in a new window)

To the Daimler TSS website (opens in a new window)

Fritz STIEFEL Industrie-Vertretungen GmbH, Neu-Ulm (May 2017)

Design Chal­lenge and Solu­tions

  • Design Thinking Workshop with the host STIEFEL GmbH Neu-Ulm
  • 27 students in 5 teams develop digital solutions for STIEFEL GmbH within one week.
  • Design Challenge: How can internal errors and complaints be reduced through digital solutions?
  • The solutions included, among other things, the concept for a holistic failure management system, a knowledge platform and learning videos, the digitalisation of work orders, information transfer via push messages and a process control board.

To the press release (opens in a new window)

To the STIEFEL website (opens in a new window)

Audi AG, Ingolstadt (November 2016 and February 2017)

Design Chal­lenge and Solu­tions

  • 16 students of the HNU implemented Design Thinking in a practical project under the direction of Prof. Dr. Klaus Lang directly at Audi.
  • They interviewed employees, analysed their needs and developed customised prototypes from project ideas. Findings from the experimental phase were collected and taken into consideration when fine-tuning the prototype.
  • At the end of the project, the students presented their digital solutions to Audi executives, including a training configurator for the workforce.

To the press release (opens in a new window)

We are in a transformation process and the topic of customer centricity plays a very central role. So it's a really great thing that the young people here have worked on very successfully. Very impressive.

Steffen Nagel, Head of Sales, Liebherr Hausgeräte GmbH

I am still fascinated how the students managed to produce such valuable and practical results in just a few days. We are very happy about innovative and modern approaches to solutions for our customers and our colleagues in care.

Karolin Lotz, Head of Outpatient Services, illerSENIO

My management team and I had not expected that the students of the Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences would use "Design Thinking" to generate such valuable and innovative ideas in our company. The prototypes presented are not only a new incentive, but also a further and important step for the future of our company.

Gerd Stiefel, Managing Director, Fritz STIEFEL Industrie-Vertretungen GmbH
Professor Dr. Klaus Lang

Pro­fessor Dr. Klaus Lang

Managing Director of the „Institute for Digital Transformation“

Dean of Studies of the Department of Information Management

Phone: +49 731 /9762-1510

Location: Main Building A, A.1.54

To profile of Professor Dr. Klaus Lang

Daniel Schallmo

Pro­fessor Dr. Daniel Schallmo

Professor für Digitale Transformation und Entrepreneurship

Studiengangleitung Master Digitale Transformation und Global Entrepreneurship

Leiter des Instituts für Entrepreneurship, Innovation und Nachhaltigkeit

Mitglied des Instituts für Digitale Transformation

Phone: 0731/9762-1531

Location: Edisonallee 1, E1.1.02

To profile of Professor Dr. Daniel Schallmo