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?
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.
- Research focus
- • Design Thinking in medium-sized companies
• Conception of digital solutions
• Development of new digital business models
Design Thinking process model
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
- Research projects with industry partners
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.
Wieland, Ulm (March 2021) [conducted virtually]
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
Landmann, Osterholz-Scharmbeck (October 2020)
- 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.
illerSENIO, Vöhringen (May 2020) [conducted virtually]
- 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.
Fischer Verkaufsfahrzeuge, Günzburg (October 2019)
- 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
Liebherr-Hausgeräte GmbH, Ochsenhausen (March 2019)
- 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
Daimler TSS GmbH, Ulm (March 2018)
- 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.
Fritz STIEFEL Industrie-Vertretungen GmbH, Neu-Ulm (May 2017)
- 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.
Audi AG, Ingolstadt (November 2016 and February 2017)
- 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.
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.
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.
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.