During joint courses of Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and Western Macedonia University of Applied Sciences in Kozani, students of economic and engineering sciences at both institutions developed ideas on strategic corporate planning as well as on founding a start-up. These ideas then were presented to both universities in a shared closing session on Friday 14 December. Also present were Dr. Nikolaos Belias - the Head of the Office for Economic and and Commercial Affairs at the Greek Consulate General in Munich - as well as representatives from companies and politics.
Six mixed teams made up from two German and two Greek students each met in Kozani in September during a first "Face-to-Face Week“, started by drawing up the tasks and then worked on their subjects "remote" for the next months using digital means of communication. During a second joint week from 10 to 14 December taking place in Karlsruhe, the teams together finalized their work and presented the results. In the course "International Business Strategy" (IBS), mixed German-Greek teams had to work through a webbased simulation game and take basic management decisions as a global telecommunication company concerning the most important departments such as marketing/sales, research and development, production, logistics, and finances. Thus the participants acquired important insight into the whole value-added chain of a company and learned at the same time how to control a company in a strategy-oriented manner or how to establish a new company. In the closing session, the IBS participants presented the decision-making processes of their respective (international) teams as well as the operating results by means of key performance figures and a balanced scorecard.
For the second course "Start-up Management" (SUM), the German and Greek "company founders" worked together in teams in order to develop their ideas for three start-ups especially tailored to the Greek market. The concept of the internet platform "Go!Local" was to provide tourists with special, spontaneous activities - dinner with a Greek family, an afternoon doing pottery with a local resident, or a tavern crawl. For the second project "DeliverMe" students suggested a courier service which not only delivered food but also important things such as pharmaceuticals. The courier service was to work like Uber and provide occupation to unemployed people, mothers looking for a flexible side job, or students. The third start-up "Stellada" is an internet platform for homemade things and food, where manufacturers can offer e.g. olivewood plates, embroidered blankets, perfume oils, herbal teas or sweet pastries, thus not only providing goods but Greek culture and way of life.
The start-ups were presented in a similar way as the US television format "Shark Tank" or the German equivalent "Höhle der Löwen" (Lions' Den). The jury of Dr. Nikolaos Belias, Dr. Thomas Lindner, CEO at the incubator innoWerft, Sven Häwel, businessman, start-up-coach and internet consultant, and professors of both universities, evaluated the companies presented by means of a pre-defined list of criteria. At the finish of the course, not one but two teams had a remarkably high score, resulting in the start-ups "Stellada" and "DeliverMe" both being winners of the class.
"I had been looking forward to this jury session for the student project but did not really cherish any high expectations. Well, my expectations were soon surpassed: the student teams' presentations and their keenness were top! With more than 50 start-ups per years participating in our programs I am well placed to evaluate the students' achievements in comparison, and at this event I saw pitches that were really impressive and counted among the best. Congratulations on your work of which you can be justly proud", Dr. Lindner praised the superior achievements of the students.
Prof. Dr. Hendrik Rust, professor at the Faculty of Management Science and Engineering of Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, was very pleased about the positive feedback of the jury members and summarized: "It's great that the students' work received such positive feedback. Positive feedback is worth more than any grade. I enjoyed observing how earnestly the students worked together, the way they coped with the different challenges posed by geografic distance, different technical knowledge and intercultural differences, and how, in the end, they professionally presented their findings as a team."
In addition, the most successful IBS team regarding the operating results achieved (Team Red) received first price. "This event is something special for students not only because they learn entrepreneurial responsability and application-oriented systems for setting up a business by using the knowledge acquired during their studies, but they also learn how to effectively and efficiently organize an international team using both direct and virtual means of communication", sums up Prof. Dr. Manfred Schorb, professor at the HsKA Faculty of Management Science and Engineering.
In the opinion of Dr. Joachim Lembach, Director of the International Office (AAA) of Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, this program, which was developed jointly by the Faculty of Management Science and Engineering and the AAA, again proves impressively that German and Greek students can easily surmount cultural and language barriers and work effectively together, orienting themselves towards a common goal. "In this way, career networks of course are developed, but also personal friendships, and that is surely no small matter", confirms Dr. Lembach. The project with a duration of three years (2017–2019) has taken place in this manner for the second time now and is supported with 76,000 EUR by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as part of the program "University Cooperation with Greece".