Alumni Expert Seminar in combination with the International Trade Fair IFAT München 2020

foto cewas - workshop
foto cicd

DAAD has cancelled all Alumni Special Projects planned for 2020 due to the Corona virus.
The Alumni Seminar “Design Thinking for Innovation Development in the Water and Environment Sector” scheduled for Siegen, Germany is cancelled as well.
All selected participants have been informed.
DAAD will announce any future development in this sector on

Take care of yourself and others and stay healthy!


International Germany Alumni Seminar 2020:

“Design Thinking for Innovation Development in the Water and Environment Sector”

followed by the participation in

the International Trade Fair IFAT München

has been cancelled!

Seminar aims

The water and environment sector is in need of innovative ideas to effectively and sustainably address the challenges caused by pollution, resource exploitation and growing amount of waste. Business innovation in the environmental sector is an emerging topic around the globe, but the number of entrepreneurs with high potential business ideas is still low. One of the reasons is the lack of creative processes for developing sustainable value propositions with a strong market fit. A way to improve and assist the ideation and innovation process is the integration of design thinking, an approach and framework for identifying and solving problems. While being useful to many disciplines and actors, it is particularly useful for (future) entrepreneurs because it seeks to develop creative and user-relevant ideas for long-term water, sanitation and waste solutions. Design thinking involves understanding how to uncover customers’ real needs; how to productively generate ideas for solving them; and how to quickly learn which of those ideas are viable in the marketplace.


This seminar addresses young and innovative Germany alumni that seek to step into the entrepreneurial journey or initiate change processes within their institutions. The program and content of the seminar follows a participatory, cross-institutional and interdisciplinary approach. While outline the program, great emphasis is laid on participant’s interaction: besides face-to-face inputs, group works and case studies, a field visit to a successful environmental business case.


Overall, the alumni seminar aims at training in four selected topics :

(1) strengthen competences to develop business ideas in the environment sector with a strong practical component,

(2) foster cooperation in a multi-disciplinary team as a central idea of “Design Thinking”,

(3) exposure to private sector innovation and testing of business ideas at the fair IFAT München, and

(4) motivate participants to engage in networks like the German Alumni Water Network (GAWN), especially with regard to the worldwide networking possibilities at the interface of research and business development.


The seminar and trade fair visit are offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in the framework of the program Alumni Special Projects. The International Germany Alumni Seminar is organized and hosted by the University of Siegen in cooperation with the Swiss organization cewas. The costs will be mainly covered by funds from the DAAD, provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Tentative Program

The seminar will have two parts:

1.     Six day´s seminar at University of Siegen, including:

  • Sessions on Design Thinking and how does it support the innovation process
  • Discover/Explore - Practice empathy tools and learn from users
  • Define/Reframe - Gather user information to derive deep insights into the problem
  • Ideate/Generate - Brainstorming and ideation techniques to develop new ideas
  • Presentations of the developed prototype to interested groups
  • Excursions and cultural events

2.    Five days visit of the International trade fair IFAT München

All alumni participate at the IFAT München 2020. Prototypes and group work results will be presented at IFAT to the broader public. Pitching of innovative business ideas, market research and validation strategies will be further continued. Networking approaches and consolidation of networking are also topics at IFAT München. Side events and a social programme at the fair will be organised in cooperation with DAAD and DWA.

The final program will be published once all applications have been reviewed. It is necessary to participate in the whole program: seminar, trade fair and social programme.