B. Eisenbart1, J. Kirch2

1University of Liechtenstein (LIECHTENSTEIN)
2Berlin School of Economics and Law (GERMANY)
Digital innovation is an essential factor to understand one’s business in a better way and develop new entrepreneurial ideas. "The European Union has recognized the importance of specific education and skills oriented innovation strategies" [OECD, 2016, p.30] to serve new technologies and markets [European Commission, 2013, p.14] and to increase its competitiveness. Deploying the advantages of digital technologies or innovative business models will enable the European Union’s (EU) industry to capture a share in emerging markets for new products and services of the future.

Digital skills and innovation can be fostered in different ways. Amongst others, academic programs are one important strategy to give future managers and entrepreneurs the opportunity to explore the current and future role of digital technologies and enable them to develop new types of business solutions.

The Erasmus+ funded project "EqualDigiTalent" works on defining the Master programme "Gender Equality in Digital Entrepreneurship" with different partner institutions in Liechtenstein, Austria, and Germany. Our paper shows how the master course "Digital Innovation" has been developed, tested, and evaluated between February 2017 and June 2018 at the University of Liechtenstein.

In this Innovation Lab, students engaged in a competitive collaboration are challenged to develop innovative solutions for a real-life business problem in diverse teams. Students applied technologies of Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) to develop an innovative contribution to a selected industry problem of their own choice. Student teams were built considering a diverse mixture of nationality, gender, age, and educational background in order to foster different perspectives and an enhanced team experience.

An introduction session laid the foundation for innovative management frameworks, models, and methods regarding the topics of innovation, competition, and collaboration. In a mid-term presentation in front of a jury of industry experts the ideas were challenged and advice regarding potential further steps was provided. In a final presentation the jury evaluated the students’ solution against innovativeness and usefulness. Further feedback was provided during the three months project on fixed project work dates in addition to flexible physical and virtual coaching sessions. Concluding our paper, the developed four-step learning evaluation process and its results and learnings are shown. Possible course adaptions and future research directions are discussed.

This article will be of specific use to experts in the field of services, industry, administration, research, and to teachers who are looking for new impulses and evidence for the development of new curricula within the field of innovation management, digitalization, and collaborative work of diverse groups.