2023 Annual Review
January 4, 2024

2023 Annual Review

Team Design Factory Stuttgart

Together with our students, partners, and ARENA2036 we are looking back at a successful 2023. We are proud of our joint progress – from introducing our innovative 'Tindustry' format to the impactful 'MINTset'-workshops for schools, all the way to the development of our coaching training. Join us in revisiting the key highlights that defined our transformative year.

At the Intersection of industry and student collaboration

Design Thinking in action: A rollercoaster of creativity and collaboration – Unveiling the triumphs of our inter-university semester course

Pooling the innovative energy of students from three different universities (University of Stuttgart, University of Applied Sciences for Media Studies, and University Hohenheim) and working with them on solutions for our partners always overwhelms us. This year, we were facing five challenges from four different organizations and some 60 students had the chance to use and experience Design Thinking for understanding user needs and creating radically new solutions. For one partner, the solution led even to an internal invention disclosure. Congrats to all the teams for their achievements!

Task Force triumphs: Unveiling breakthroughs and an invention disclosure – A technical exploration

This year, we had the pleasure of hosting two Design Factory Task Forces with the ARENA2036 members Mercedes-Benz and SPIE. The Mercedes-Benz team implemented a radar sensor for autonomous driving applications in the ARENA2036 project FlexCAR and worked on trust models for humans in autonomous vehicles, which led to two internal invention disclosures. The SPIE Task Force integrated various sensors installed in ARENA2036 from different manufacturers for predictive maintenance applications into an InfluxDB database management system and created a dashboard in Grafana for clear and easy to use presentation to the user.


Future talents unleashed: Tindustry job dating transforms Design Factory galas into a hotspot of opportunities for students and industry 

Our working students developed a job dating format called ‘Tindustry’ for students and companies, which brought this year's winter and summer gala to a new level. We implemented our concept with five different companies at our summer gala. In total there were eight vacancies and 70 interviews. The participating companies received many applications after the job dating. We are looking forward to bringing many more students and company paths together.

Brilliant knowledge transfer: Design Factory's teaching synergy enriches student experiences

We have already established regular collaborations in teaching formats for two semesters. Our Design Thinking workshop is part of the workshop series for doctoral students, candidates, and postdocs, which is organized by the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Science and called “Research, Innovation, Science and Entrepreneurship (RISE)”. Furthermore, our coaching training is part of the qualification program for young student coaches at the University of Stuttgart and the University of Applied Sciences for Media Studies. Together, we are looking forward to imparting more and more of these transformative and pioneering skills.

Nurturing tomorrow's innovators

Our mission to empower people to innovate starts even before the first semester. Besides many activities such as the study program information day and many visits at our Research Campus we are highlighting our MINTset workshops and last year’s girls day.

Career compass on wheels: "AdVANce your MINTset" program gets schools excited

In collaboration with the University of Stuttgart, we have developed a new workshop concept called "AdVANce your MINTset". Since May, we have been on the road with our e-van, visiting 13 school classes in the Stuttgart area to support students from the 10th grade onwards, in order to find out what their professional future should look like. In our workshops we are using the methods Design Thinking and Ikigai, helping the students to find their way through the study program jungle and introduce them to the courses offered at the University of Stuttgart.

Tech wonderland for girls: Exploring AR, Robots and much more at ARENA2036

Our ARENA2036 space gave a great opportunity for girls from all over Stuttgart to gain insights into the various projects of our industry partners. Among other things, they were able to test the latest AR technologies from Mercedes-Benz, try out some robots from ThingOS and be fascinated by the Bosch Smart Floor. To get active themselves, we offered a small creative craft activity where they would design their own neon signs.

Customized training courses and programs for various companies

Empowering professionals: Design Thinking training opens up an entirely new set of tools for innovation teams

Implementing a team-oriented and radical innovation mindset is crucial for innovation practices and meaningful organizations. Therefore, we are more than happy that we were able to host four Design Thinking trainings for professionals. Our ARENA2036 members Mercedes-Benz, Balluff, and SPIE got an internal team training and participants from different organizations joined in a cross-organizational training. We wish all participants good luck in practicing their first Design Thinking tools and mindset with small steps at daily work and are happy to welcome the next participants in February (still open spots left).

Reshaping formats for society and public organization

Many of our workshops are suitable not only for industry and university contexts but also beyond. With the regional association of the VHS (community college) we used our Kintsugi approach to structure their team walk and reflect cross-regional and cross-topic about internal change and improvement potentials. Another example was led by Julian, one of our working students and engaged six participants and the mission to exploring sustainability through the metaphor of Kintsugi. In both cases, the off-campus setting provided a unique experience.

International collaboration

As part of the Design Factory Global Network (DFGN), we were able to collaborate in various ways with other Design Factories this year. Sharing knowledge and running workshops in an international environment ensures that we think outside the box and push our team to continuously learn and live a growthmindset. In March we co-developed a training course for new (Design Thinking) coaches, which was piloted in Barcelona at Fusion Point and has been delivered three times in Stuttgart this year. Two other highlights are following.


Fueling innovation: Unleashing the power of Design Thinking mindset – Recognized at the 2nd Design Factory Global Network Research Conference

The use of Design Thinking tools fosters a specific Design Thinking mindset, which is essential for innovative teams to empathize with users, shift perspectives, aim for radical solutions, and work in an interdisciplinary team. Our research in this area was presented at the 2nd Design Factory Global Network ResearchConference in Ankara in collaboration with the Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management IAT at the University of Stuttgart and was honored with the "aha!" moment award. We would like to thank Janna Bauknecht from the IAT for presenting our work at the conference.

Global co-creation: Alumni success story as Ole Werner thrives at CERN's IdeaSquare – Paving the way for new international teaching models

We are very pleased that one of our former students, Ole Werner, has been involved at IdeaSquare – the innovation space of CERN – for more than a year. In November, we were able to combine a visit to CERN with a workshop on new applied teaching models at universities, which included an imaginary journey to another planet to solve problems. We were deeply inspired and able to integrate some of the ideas into new workshop concepts that we plan to launch as part of a new project.

As we close the chapter on a year of creative exploration, let's embrace the words of Maya Angelou: “You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Here's to unleashing boundless creativity, collective innovation, and endless possibilities in 2024. The Design Factory Stuttgart team and ARENA2036 wish you a year filled with inspiration and breakthroughs!

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