August 25, 2017

After 23.5 hours of continuous work, only 30 minutes remain to present the results to more than 100 curious guests in the beautiful Forum Alpbach plenary. This is a big moment for all the teams.

At the end of an event like this one question eventually pops up: what are the learnings?

Let’s start with the company partners who 24 hours earlier presented  real-life tasks for the student teams to work on.

These are the concrete ideas and amazing concepts our passionate teams generated for their company partners to take back home:


  • Team voestalpine digitalized the continuous casting process by finding the proper measurement techniques for failure detection.

  • Team Liebherr developed a solution providing a new technology for cooling devices in retail which is interactive and combines energy efficiency with seamless customer experience.

  • Team Fronius International improved the concept of a battery charging system for the future of intralogist...

August 25, 2017

Sometimes six hours feel like eternity. Compared to the initial time span of 24 hours and in combination with the pressure of finalizing the results 6 hours can also seem to fly. The last quarter of TU Austria’s Innovation-Marathon is all about wrapping up the results in prototypes, documenting and rehearsing for the final presentation and then entering the big stage to present 24 hours of work in 2 minutes – seems tricky, doesn’t it?

August 24, 2017

After the cup song, the teams are now diving into the phase of idea generation. At the beginning of this phase it is vital to collect as many ideas as possible and to think in broad terms. ‘Especially in the ideation phase a variety of cultural backgrounds, diversity in academic disciplines, a mix of men and women, younger and older team members contribute to diverse, unexpected and sometimes also crazy ideas’, Stefan from the innovation coach crew explains. This is a result of various effects; one simple reason, however, is that more diverse teams also better represent all possible consumers of a company’s product or service and its needs.

This year’s teams come from more than ten different countries: South Africa, Israel, India, Turkey, Latvia, Ukraine, Italy, Hungary, China, Taiwan, Germany, and not surprisingly Austria :-)


Academic careers range from architecture, material sciences, electrical and mechanical engineering, global studies, psychology, socio...

August 24, 2017

Next time you need an energy boost, grab a couple of friends and perform the cup song. This is what our teams and coaches did. No sign of tiredness left!


You don’t know the cup song? Check the original on YouTube or go and see our video here:

August 24, 2017

What happened in those 10 hours? Innovation coach Julia explains the time-line of the marathon:

‘Our marathon is built up in two different but equally important phases: analysis and ideation. Until now our teams used their brainpower to dig deep into the challenge they have gotten from our company partners.

Of great importance in the analysis phase is to clearly understand the customer’s needs. For this reason, our teams left their desks to go out and interview possible customers. (We try to teach our teams beforehand, that every successful innovation matches a concrete job to be done for the customer. Without a need behind it, an innovation will not find acceptance on the market.) With that knowledge in the back of their minds, our teams are now, after a short break to clear their heads, ready to jump into the ideation phase and create different solutions.'

 Copyright: Harald Tauderer

‘The customer interviews had a great impact and really made a difference’, the students said in unison. T...

August 24, 2017

Several guests came to visit the TU Austria Innovation Marathon and left inspiring words for the teams as well as for the marathon as an event.

Director General Mag. Christoph Neumayer of the Federation of Austrian Indurstries said: ‘The Innovation-Marathon is a role model for real-life innovation processes. This is what makes the event so attractive. Just like the fact that the marathon considers all aspects necessary for innovation, starting from multi-disciplinarity to cross-cultural backgrounds. It is all about innovation – this will be crucial for Austria’s positioning in the future.

Find more greetings and pictures like those of Chairman of the Council for Research and Technology Development Hannes Adrosch, Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology Jörg Leichtfried, and many more in this photo story:

August 24, 2017

Already last year the Austrian Patent Office and TU Austria’s Innovation-Marathon were neighbors at the Alpbach Technology Forum. What a fabulous coincidence! The Austrian Patent Office is the expert for research and is supporting our teams when it comes to different questions: has anybody else dealt with a similar question before? How have others solved tasks like ours?

Source: Österreichisches Patentamt/APA-Fotoservice/Lackner

One of the teams reports: ‘Our task is to find a solution for a door-less fridge in retail. The Austrian patent office could show us three examples how others solved a similar challenge. One from Japan, one from China and another from the US – we would not have been able to find these examples so fast. ’ What was also striking for the students was that the examples included technologies they would not have come up with themselves, for instance air curtains as a substitute for fridge doors.

When asking Stefan Harasek and Burkhard Schlechter (pic) from the Patent Of...

August 24, 2017

Not only the teams, also the innovation coaches will miss their normal sleep routine at night helping the students to find the best solutions.

But what exactly is the role of the coaches? Up front the coaches spend a lot of time planning and coordinating the Innovation-Marathon. During the marathon, they are here to support and coach both the teams and the company partners. They do this by explaining methods, providing templates and sharing their knowledge from their practical experience as innovation consultants.

Examples of the innovation methods the teams are using in the first phase, the analysis phase, are Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas or the Problem Hierarchy Analysis. Edward DeBono’s Problem Hierarchy Analysis tool deals with two basic questions: why do I want to solve the problem? What keeps me from solving the problem? These two questions in the end will lead to a range of problem definitions that will serve as a menu to choose from. Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas hel...

August 24, 2017

GONG – this is the starting point! From now, 9:00 a.m. sharp, for 24 hours non-stop our eight teams will work on their tasks.

But what are their tasks? Right after the gong, students and company partners gathered at their ‘work stations’ and the up-until-this point sealed envelopes were handed over – a picture that reminds a little of the Oscars – luckily no mistakes in Alpbach :-)

The tasks are real-life challenges our companies are facing and they are as diverse as the companies themselves. Our max-mix student teams will now develop prototypes and concepts for this year’s sponsors who are AVL, Energie Steiermark, Constantia Flexibles, Fronius International, Liebherr, Logicdata, Magna Steyr and voestalpine.

One team will think about how to build trust in autonomous vehicles with AI, another will ponder about the question of what the future of packaging in a digital world will be like and yet another will focus on the topic of future intralogistics. Further topics are: energy as a service...

August 23, 2017

Today the eagerly anticipated kick-off of this year’s TU Austria Innovation-Marathon at the Forum Alpbach finally took place. Rector Kainz, chairman of TU Austria, opened the evening with a warm, encouraging speech before the word was given to around 70 people.

A mix of students, participating company representatives and representatives of the universities mingled and introduced themselves in 4 rounds of ‘speed-talking’. No one wanted to stop chatting during this introductory session: a first sign of great enthusiasm and high commitment.

The innovation coaches then explained the timeline of the marathon as well as the Innovation-Marathon codex, an overview of values important in innovation projects, before the audience was split up into company representatives and students. While the company representatives could clarify open questions with the coaches, the students for the first time met their teams.

To get to know each other better they were given a first team challenge: build the highe...

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Mario Fallast, Project Lead Innovation Marathon
Graz University of Technology
Rechbauerstraße 12
8010 Graz, AUSTRIA

With innovative Know-How