MAP excursion to Zollhof

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Nuremberg’s ZOLLHOF – tech Incubator and the open innovation lab JOSEPHS are only two out of many different environments in which open innovation takes place. (Image: Zollhof Tech Incubator)

After two years of digital excursions, the MAP Office offered an in-person excursion to Zollhof Tech Incubator on 9 December 2022. As a start-up hub, Zollhof is an expert in innovation and idea development. The excursion was planned to introduce students to the concept of innovation, creativity, as well as idea management. It might be a coincidence, but the Zollhof building is also historically associated with innovation, as the first ever German patent for the colour ultramarine was based there; so if you ask me, they know entrepreneurship!

The workshop organizer and Senior Service Designer at Zollhof, Mr. Maximilian Finger, started the session with the workshop agenda. The participating MAP students had time to introduce themselves and the reason why they chose this workshop. Among various reasons, from taking credits to passion for innovation, one reason was most recurring: How does a start-up work?

Next, Anastassia Nikolaitchuk, a senior MAP student from the 2020 matriculation group who is currently also a working student at Zollhof, introduced Zollhof, its core purpose, it’s ongoing projects, and its shareholders. Interestingly, Zollhof itself is also a start-up!

The following presentation was about creativity and how the world of technology is changing, how certain predefined concepts are being questioned and how people can change the game with a new perspective. The session was accompanied by a fun creativity exercise to demonstrate how a person’s perspective and personal background can affect the outcome of a simple task and provide a unique solution.

After a short break and enjoying the refreshing beverages, we were divided into three groups to come up with ideas and plans for developing a product or service. To assist us brainstorm ideas, a few pictures were distributed among the groups. After a detailed discussion about each idea, we were assigned to rank our ideas from worst to best, and Max collected the best ideas from each group. He then began to read them and comment on their potential. There were several promising ideas, but working with the best ideas is easy! Therefore, to challenge our critical thinking, he distributed the worst idea to the groups and we were given the task to come up with a potential business out of it.

We discussed in the groups and presented our ideas, including the product name, potential market, and rough appearance of the product. At the end, each group presented their solution and explained how they came up with it. This task was fun and overall a good learning opportunity coupled with the benefit of group work.

In the last part of the workshop, we took a tour of the Zollhof and visited different start-ups working in the building. The building has a nice atmosphere and on each floor, there are different sections assigned to different start-ups. And yes, the working environment in a start-up is dynamic and energetic, which we could feel just by walking around the building.

A special thanks to the MAP Office and Mr. Finger for organizing this excursion.

By MAP student Milad Monavvar (matriculation group 2021)