Practices > Good Practices > Brokerage > Edison Competition

Edison is a competition of ideas hosted by tech2b and ‘business pro Austria’ each year. It is supported by academic institutions, public funds, banks, private commercial companies and other partners (see www.edison-der-preis.at for details).

This interdisciplinary network of academia, businesses, public support institutions and banks enables innovative persons to present their ideas, get feedback from experts and receive training in a number of economically relevant topics. After the preparation phase the participants can win one of the prizes and are encouraged to start their own business. The prizes are awarded in the categories ‘technology’, ‘innovation’ and ‘creative industry’.

One of the winning projects of 2012 is an interactive whiteboard (see: mi-lab.org/projects/nice-discussion-room) which combines computer science, media interaction, usability and design into a fully functional product. The project is founded by two young scientists who plan to start their company in late 2012. They were supported by a number of organizations who are also partners of the Edison competition. They already have a number of interested customers and access to public funds. The competition of ideas of Edison, which is hosted by a number of different partners, played a major role in the first successful steps of this interdisciplinary project that will soon become a commercially active company.

Role of partners?
‘Edison’ competition of ideas:
tech2b: planning and organisation of the Edison competition in general, and overall project management. Primarily responsible for ‘technology ideas’, handling of the ‘technology’ jury, supporting the people who are interested in founding their own high-tech company.
Business pro Austria: primarily responsible for ‘innovation ideas’, handling of the innovative jury, supporting the people who are interested in founding their own innovative company.
Creative Region: primarily responsible for ‘creative ideas’, handling of the creative jury, supporting the people who are interested in founding their own creative company.

All other partners are Universities, Banks, Chamber of Commerce, and industrial companies: evaluators for the submitted ideas, trainers for competitors, sponsors, etc.

All the partners support the award by being a network for new ideas and start-ups.

Example of the role that partners played in the Interactive Whiteboard project:
tech2b: funding, IPR support, business development, coaching, business planning
University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria: business development, scientific support
Softwarepark Hagenberg: general support
Chamber of Commerce: support in legal affairs

Why is it needed?
The ‘Edison’ competition of ideas enables people to develop their ideas into viable business models, leading to fully functional companies. Due to a wide variety of partners with different emphases, participants have the possibility to gain insight and knowledge in different fields like technology, design, IPR, finance, legal, etc. A combination of more than 10 partners from different background working closely together with one goal in mind (enabling people with ideas to start their own business) is unique in the region, if not in the entire country.

The Interactive Whiteboard enhances the creativity process in companies. It leads towards more innovations and faster innovation cycles for users. The product enables users to create new ideas. Advanced hardware, the mixture of numerous media (paper, digital, images, videos, etc.) and software components help the users to cross existing borders in thinking and innovation. It combines computer science, usability, hardware and software technology and innovation management tools into one product is a novelty. The team has also been granted a patent for their innovation.

What are the success factors and challenges?
The ‘Edison’ competition of ideas plays a major role to provide support for people with ideas for innovations. A number of companies have been founded and the persons involved see the support provided as essential. These companies are active in a broad range of technologies, including the creative industry.
The award itself and the categories fit perfectly, but it is necessary to coach not only the winners but all participants in the different categories to help them go public with their ideas and concentrate on the main duties and help to improve them, so that the ideas can actually be realised.
Moreover, the interaction between the different parts (technology, innovation, creative) of ideas could be more intense. We are planning a kind of matching system between people and their ideas in different categories.

In the case of the Interactive Whiteboard: approximately 10 prototypes of the Interactive Whiteboard are in use in various applications, ranging from engineering, innovation management and public safety. Users can act faster and with fewer barriers, therefore more innovation potential is released in meetings where this whiteboard is used.
However, there are only a small number of competitors. These are using other technologies that have disadvantages compared to the Edison winning team. Therefore this team is not trying to make something differently.
Also, the product is still in a prototype phase. Therefore a number of improvements will be made in the next year. These include new mechanisms for installing the whiteboard, more software components and a modified user interaction module.

Business name: tech2b Inkubator GmbH
Contact name: Julia Zarbock
Address: Hafenstrasse 47-51, 4020 Linz, Austria
Telephone: +43 732 9015 5648
City: Linz
Country: Austria
E-mailoffice(at)tech2b.at
Websitewww.tech2b.at
Legal status of Company: Public Limited Company
Number of employees: 13
Nature of business: Public Consulting
Name of company collaborating with: –
Title of project: “Edison” Competition of Ideas
Date of activity from: 2009 – present
Activity Theme: Brokerage
Project websitehttp://http://www.edison-der-preis.at/

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