Three digital projects win the Transfer Center enaCom Ideas Competition

Die Sieger*innen des Ideenwettbewerbs - Fabian Mantsch und Lars Pfleider (&rsquo
Die Sieger*innen des Ideenwettbewerbs - Fabian Mantsch und Lars Pfleider (’Inspired by Learning’), Daria Kononenko (’UniTalks’) und Leon Schmidt (’PlateProfit’) (vlnr.) © Volker Lannert / Uni Bonn all images in original size .
The 2023 Ideas Competition organized by the Transfer Center enaCom once again impressively demonstrated the innovative potential of the University of Bonn. Eight candidates made it through to the final on December 6 and pitched their ideas to the jury and audience at the Digitalhub at Bonn’s central station. Three of them convinced the distinguished jury: "UniTalks" by Daria Kononenko and "Inspired by Learning" by Fabian Mantsch and Lars Pfleider each won 1,000 euros donated by the Universitätsstiftung Bonn and Comma Soft AG. The idea "PlateProfit" by Leon Schmidt won the Digital Startup Prize from DIGITALHUB.DE.

"This is the third Ideas Competition at the University of Bonn - and every year, more and more participants come forward with their projects and want to present them at the final. We are delighted about this and it shows how much innovation is available and waiting to be found. For the 2023 Ideas Competition, we not only received many submissions from different members of the university, but also from both the technical and social sectors," said Sandra Speer, Head of the Transfer Center enaCom, welcoming the audience and the jury in the packed hall of the Digital Hub at Bonn Central Station.

Form the large number and variety of submissions, eight nominees made it to the final with their project ideas. There, each had just three minutes to convince the jury consisting of Denise Fischer-Kreer (Professor of Entrepreneurial Behavior), Dr. Andrej Fischer (Executive Manager for Consulting at Comma Soft AG), Simon Hecht (Head of Marketing at DIGITALHUB.DE), Günter Mayer (Professor of Chemical Biology at the LIMES Institute and Transfer Representative of the Rectorate) and Dagmar Wachten (Professor of Biophysical Imaging, Director of the Institute of Innate Immunity and Board Member of Bonner Universitätsstiftung). But before things got underway, the jury was first confronted with questions from Bonn alumnus and moderator Frederik Steen.

The interview with last year’s winners Dr. Marcel Hövels, André Neff and Jannick Dülberg from the start-up project Sweethoven Biotech showed what the further development of an idea can look like after a successful pitch. Their idea for a fiber-based sugar alternative originates from their own research and is now being further developed for the market. The team came together at the Start-up Summer School at the Transfer Center enaCom in 2022 and won the ideas competition shortly afterwards. "Last year’s success gave us the impetus to really pursue the idea further. With the subsequent prototyping grant from the university and the opportunity to use the co-working lab, we were able to produce the first quantities of our product. Participation in the EIT Food Seedbed Incubator has given us great networking opportunities. And we were recently selected for funding by the BMBF at the pitch contest in Essen as part of the DATIpilot Innovation Sprint, which enables extended testing," reports Hövels on the successful development of the project. Perhaps they will be able to bring the first application like a cake to the next Ideas Competition in 2024.

Three digital projects win

The three winning teams are now also setting out to turn their ideas into reality. Daria Kononenko received the University Foundation’s prize of 1,000 euros for her project "UniTalks". She wants to use this app to bring students together, "regardless of which country they come from". UniTalks is designed to help them find language learning partners in a protected digital space. "The focus is on the spoken language and not on boring grammar from the course book," explains the student in her pitch. It was the connection to the university and the focus on students that convinced jury member and representative of the Bonner Universitätsstiftung Dagmar Wachten: "The idea occupies a niche that is worth filling."

Fabian Mantsch and Lars Pfleider won the prize from Comma Soft AG, also worth 1,000 euros, with their idea "IbyL - Inspired by Learning". In his pitch, Mantsch presented a digital learning platform for preparing for the tax consultant exam. This has an enormously high failure rate and until now the preparation has been done "mainly with pen and paper". "The idea meets a great need and can help people through a very difficult learning process," explained jury member and representative of Comma Soft AG Dr. Andrej Fischer.

With a focus on digital ideas that are still in their infancy, the jury selected Leon Schmidt’s project "PlateProfit" for the Digital Startup Award from DIGITALHUB.DE. The student wants to develop a digital, data-driven tool for better price calculation in the gastronomy sector. "Profitability is particularly important in the gastronomy sector, which is why we are happy to support the project," explained jury member and DIGITALHUB.DE representative Simon Hecht.

"The Ideas Competition is an annual opportunity for members of the University of Bonn to consider how they can apply their knowledge in practice. We at the Transfer Center enaCom motivate all participants, not just the finalists and winners, to pursue their ideas further and support them with our advice and workshops," Sandra Speer concluded the final of the 2023 Ideas Competition. The evening was also an opportunity for intensive networking. The next call for applications for the Ideas Competition will take place in fall 2024.