Seeing is believing: CloudEARTHi Innolab – Eisenstadt
Published: 21st June 2023
The project team aims to strengthen the spirit of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship among all its stakeholders. The primary target groups are students and teaching staff. Other target groups are alumni and innovative start-ups in the Burgenland region. The CloudEARTHi project directly supports the HEI’s aim and supported the institution through courses, networking events such as the CloudEARTHi conference and infrastructure to foster entrepreneurship research purchased through the project. The Innolab provides a number of useful tools that help spawn, develop and to certain extent test business ideas for a more sustainable future. The project aimed to create two Innolabs; one at the University of Applied Sciences of Burgenland, Austria and a second at the Technical University of Varna, Bulgaria.
Within the framework of the CloudEARTHi project, we purchased infrastructure, organized entrepreneurship trainings, opened the facilities to external stakeholders so that the topic of entrepreneurship would become more widely discussed and thus enter into the hearts and minds of Innolab users and visitors.
Since July 2021, we have organized conferences, start-up events, discussion panels, used it for developing and presenting product and service ideas and thus merged students, staff and local business people into activities that lead to closer ties between all stakeholders.
We take advantage of the Innolab space also as a creative work space in which design-thinking and collaborative approaches could be put into practice. The focus group lab is used to evaluate and further develop entrepreneurship and start-up ideas. The multi-channel biometric research & eye tracking lab tests everything that catches our eye with students and business partners, from websites to posters to product placements. Eye-tracking, galvanic skin response and automatic facial expression analysis provide data that directly inform about visual material perception. Eye tracking can be used to analyse the eye movements of test participants. This makes it possible to recognise which aspects of websites, apps, commercials or magazines receive a lot of attention. This can be used to better design prototypes, websites/apps or marketing materials. With the help of Galvanic Skin Response or automatic facial expression analysis, it is possible to check how emotionally appealing certain content is. The automatic facial expression analysis records the subjects’ facial expressions when viewing content.
In the productive work lab people are exposed to and observe creative, cutting-edge teaching and learning through – among other things – our Serious Play® equipment. The Innolab also serves as an experimental creativity and communication space that enables systematic experiments on productivity in the context of the everyday work. State-of-the-art lighting and sound systems have been installed to create different collaboration situations. In addition, companies can experiment with the design of open workspaces before they are implemented.
Giving people access to these tools and methods for teaching and learning means showing them new ways to tackle challenges and helping them expand their problem-solving skills and creativity – helpful components that are dearly needed in times of social and economic volatility, aspects that should help them build resilience in a highly competitive market.
Students seldomly think of starting their own business when they go to university. The Innolab helps them develop innovations and businesses. In this testing ground, they can develop business alternatives, address societal challenges. A recent highlight was the successful presentation of students’ start up ideas to a professional audience.
The Innolab is used by students, staff, local start-ups and public bodies as work space, for meetings and networking, and as conferencing and exchange space for internal and external stakeholders. It acts as exchange platform that weaves the needs of the business sector with fresh talent and ideas for a more sustainable way of doing business in the future.
Thanks to the CloudEARTHi project, the UAS Burgenland has an up-to-date learning and research space for the implementation and testing of entrepreneurship projects, the ‘Innolab’ – abbreviation of “Innovation Lab”. It comprises three core work areas: the focus group laboratory, the multi-channel biometric research & eye tracking lab and the productive work lab, an open creative space. These spaces are used to expound on entrepreneurship challenges, allow students, staff and even external start-ups to test prototypes, run ideas past focus groups and develop and/or fine tune start-up ideas.
The work spaces have initially only been used by the core project members; now additional staff have discovered the infrastructure and they use it in order to implement student projects that require a higher degree of creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, projects that mainly deal with familiarizing students with entrepreneurship skills in an open setting that connects stakeholders from the public sector, businesses and higher education.
As a physical space where researchers, educators, students and business can meet and test ideas, the Innolab strengthens the cooperation between the different end-members of the knowledge triangle.
Key success factors / How to replicate / Sustainability mechanism
The most key success factor is to have a vision, plan and active team who works on this plan. The Innolab at Eisenstadt can be easily replicated: it needs the above-described laboratory infrastructure and a few dedicated staff who are willing to familiarize themselves with these new methods, so they can actually be put to good use. Also, staff should be knowledgeable about how to attract the attention of external partners (new businesses, public bodies, etc.) so as to make the most of the opportunities such an extensive lab infrastructure entails. The CloudEEARTHi team at UAS Burgenland is welcoming teams from others HEIs across Europe for visits to show them real examples and train them in order to replicate and transfer it to other HEIs.