das magazin / 20 April

    “Even the best of ideas is of no use to anyone if it is not used”

    Rhineland-Palatinate Competition for Ideas – Innovative ideas should be sought out and promoted in this way by potential entrepreneurs.

    This quote from Walter A. Heiby describes the core idea behind the Rhineland-Palatinate Competition for Ideas. The Competition offers all inhabitants of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate, from school pupils and students to working adults, the chance to promote themselves using their ideas for innovative products, services and new practices. Innovative ideas should be sought out and promoted in this way by potential entrepreneurs.

    Why did you start the Rhineland-Palatinate Competition for Ideas?

    Our university is in located in Rhineland-Palatinate. Even though we count amongst the smaller German states with our approx. 4 million inhabitants, we were sure that there was a great deal of creative potential to be found here. We wanted to showcase this talent in a “competition for ideas”. The focus of my work and teaching at the university includes innovation management, strategic management, start-up management and succession management. The competition for ideas is the perfect platform for ideas, innovation and start-ups.

    Koblenz University, under the responsibility of the tenured Professor Dr. Martin Kaschny, organises the Competition each year.


    How long has the competition for ideas been running?

    The competition kicked off in 2008, and has been established as a successful brand for the promotion of innovation. The project set down the objective of supporting individuals who generate new ideas, in particular by helping them to bring their concepts to life. In 2020, we’re starting our tenth round of the competition. In the last few years, the competition for ideas has grown considerably and is now a permanent fixture for discovering new creative approaches and creative innovation in Rhineland-Palatinate. This development is due in large part to our excellent network in the fields of politics, economics, and management, as well as our benefactors and adjudicators who provide us with enthusiastic support.

    What do you find most exciting about the competition for ideas?

    My team and I, as well as the jury, are bowled over time and time again by the huge variety of ideas presented. We receive more submissions every year, and they couldn’t be any more different. Participants come from different age groups: some are school pupils or students, others are working adults, or pensioners. All these different people submit their ideas to the competition.

    I find it particularly exciting when, for example, young school pupils are guided and motivated by their teachers to such an extent that they participate year after year as they have an awareness that they are creative, and that there is potential in them. Teachers organise creativity and presentation workshops with their pupils, and use these to support them not only in their submissions to the competition for ideas, but also for their long-term personal and professional development. This is how we can really make a difference. We can showcase these ideas, present them to an interested audience, and even draw on our networks within the economics and politics sectors, all whilst keeping things fun, and for me, above all else, extremely motivational.

    Where would you like to see the competition for ideas in five year’s time?

    In the coming years, we would like to appeal to even more specific target groups who have excelled in their highly creative submissions. L&R’s initiative of a Special Award in Medicine is a good example. We would like to focus in on medics, as we have repeatedly seen really exciting ideas from this group with a great deal of potential. This leads us on to another question entirely, however: How can we as university forge links, and expand our networks even further? We would also like to position the Rhineland-Palatinate Competition for Ideas even more clearly as a brand from a marketing strategy perspective. We are convinced that we a far from exhausting our idea-generating potential, which has only grown year-on-year. In the future we would also be delighted to see cooperation with companies from the “crowd ideation” sector. We would look to advertise selected issues or problems for the different companies, and help them to find new talent for idea generation.

    “I have been astounded by the commitment of all those involved in organising the project, as well as the participants. We also want to promote ideas coming from school pupils, students, and from anyone else who is coming up with new ideas. For this reason, we are offering a Special Award in Medicine as part of the “Rhineland-Palatinate Competition for Ideas”, which was granted for the first time in 2019. As one of the benefactors in the area of universities, economics and management, we are delighted to take on responsibility for promoting a culture of innovation.” 

    Wolfgang Süßle, CEO of the L&R Group

    Special Award in Medicine for the submission “Antimicrobial, tissue-regenerating laminates for regenerative medicine”

    The Special Award in Medicine 2019 was awarded by L&R to Dr. Ulrike Ritz of the Centre for Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery (Mainz University Hospital).

    The short description reads as follows: “Large wounds and open fractures such as those we frequently encounter following severe accidents continue to represent a serious problem for surgeons as they must work to prevent infections from taking hold whilst at the same time speeding up the process of vascularisation and tissue regeneration. Our wound dressing, constructed as a collagen-based laminate, can address each patient’s individual needs following an accident. The layered dressing material contains an antimicrobial substance in its upper layers, e.g. an antibiotic, in order to prevent possible infections; its lower layers contain biologically-active proteins which promote vascularisation and/or tissue regeneration, e.g. new formation of bone.

    The surgeon can apply these layers individually to the patient, adapting the composition of layers depending on the specific type and severity of injury. Laminates for the treatment of wounds are already being used nowadays, but none that release indivdually selectable substances as part of regenerative medical care.” The main factor for receiving the award was the novelty of the idea that could well form the basis for an innovative treatment approach. The project is still in its early development phase, and the experienced working group, with its focus on scientific innovation, is working on further developing the idea for future practical applications.