The Innovation Park at ConSozial offers social start-ups a platform to present themselves to a large audience.
ConSozial is the congress trade fair for specialists and managers in the social market in German-speaking countries. For the 20th anniversary event, ConSozial has come up with something special. "This year, for the first time, the newly introduced Innovation Park will give social start-ups the opportunity to present themselves to a large audience," says Bavarian Minister of Social Affairs Kerstin Schreyer. The Bavarian State Ministry for Family, Labour and Social Affairs is the organiser of ConSozial and patron of the 1st Innovation Park. There are many exciting product ideas at the special show - from analogue to digital. "All of these offerings make ConSozial, which we are organizing, a starting point for new ideas and modern approaches," said the Bavarian Minister of Social Affairs.
ConSozial has teamed up with the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Nuremberg to develop the innovation park. Sara Bernreuther is a member of the five-strong project team and, together with her fellow students, played a key role in designing the Innovation Park. The team has accompanied the special exhibition from the very beginning. The students have conducted in-depth research in the field of social start-ups and acquired start-ups with exciting ideas for the special show. During ConSozial on November 7 and 8, 2018 , they will also provide on-site support for the Innovation Park participants.
Ms Bernreuther, what social innovations do the start-ups present? Can you tell us about specific product ideas?
It's a very colourful mix and just as diverse as ConSozial itself. There are so many exciting ideas and topics from different areas - from integration to help for the disabled to digitalization. One of the start-ups, for example, has developed a smartglass application that helps people with disabilities achieve independent mobility. By simply nodding, wheelchair users can control their wheelchair, for example. Another exhibitor at the Innovation Park is a fashion label that develops comfortable clothing for wheelchair users that is particularly suitable for long periods of sitting. An app dedicated to sustainability will also be presented. This offers, among other things, a bonus system through which you can collect points that the customer receives when buying sustainable products. What I also find very exciting is the project for digital health promotion for dementia patients with the help of an interactive therapy ball. I could talk about so many other innovations here now. What I find simply admirable is that every single one of the social start-ups is on fire for their idea and have the goal of making a positive difference. I'm really looking forward to seeing the founders and their products live at the Innovation Park.
Was it difficult to convince the social start-ups of the Innovation Park and ConSozial?
No, not at all. Overall, we received extremely positive feedback and hardly had to do any convincing. The start-ups were very grateful that ConSozial now offers a platform where you can present yourself in a special setting. It is a unique opportunity to get in touch with established companies and possible sponsors.
How did you get involved in this project and did you have any previous contact with ConSozial?
Since I am studying social economy, I am very familiar with ConSozial. I have always been at the trade fair over the last few years. That's why the project appealed to me immediately. Above all, I am thrilled that we can accompany the Innovation Park from start to finish. It's really fun to work in such a practical way.
What did the cooperation between your university and NürnbergMesse look like in concrete terms? How did the project proceed?
First we met with Christian Arnold, the event manager of ConSozial at NürnbergMesse, and talked about the structure and goals of the innovation park. The concrete implementation then emerged bit by bit. Our task was to tap into the start-up scene in the social market. We asked ourselves what needs start-ups have, what topics they deal with and on which channels they are represented. That was really exciting.
And how did you specifically go about your research?
First, of course, we looked at the start-up scene in general before focusing on social start-ups. We established various criteria according to which we created a list of potential founders for the Innovation Park. After reviewing the websites and products, we then got down to the nitty-gritty and contacted the companies. As of May 2018, the research is now complete. In the first phase, we were already able to inspire nine start-ups for the Innovation Park in a very short time. In the meantime, however, there are already significantly more and we have many more interested parties.
What is your conclusion about your project and the Innovation Park?
I personally thought the project was great and would do it again at any time. The start-up scene is an absolutely dynamic, exciting field with great potential. That's why I think it's great that ConSozial has now launched the Innovation Park and is offering start-ups a platform. It's simply fascinating to see how new, innovative ideas with the wow factor are constantly being created. I also admire how the founders sacrifice themselves for their ideas, for their visions. After all, they don't just develop their innovations for themselves, they want to do something good for society and other people, to make the world a little bit better.
Thank you very much for these exciting insights.
ConSozial including the Innovation Park will take place on 7 and 8 November 2018 at the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre. You can find more information here:
The patron of the Innovation Park is the Bavarian State Ministry for Family Affairs, Labour and Social Affairs. Media partner of the 1st Innovation Park is the trade medium sgpREPORT, Schlütersche Verlagsgesellschaft.