Student innovation with SAP, Korowa Anglican Girls’ School and the Goethe Institute

This year, SAP Australia took part for the first time in the Goethe Institute’s annual ‘Enterprise German’ student competition. Here, Sebastian Kress, who led SAP’s involvement, shares his experiences of the event, which ended with a surprising result.

The Goethe institute is a renowned German government-run institution that promotes German language education and culture around the world. I am friends with one of their directors in Australia and they introduced me to one of the institute’s annual contests, called ‘Enterprise German’. The competition aims to connect year 9 and year 10 students in Australia with German companies, and encourages them to come up with a business idea for the company of their choice. I was inspired by previous ideas students had shared for German brands like Bosch, Leica or Lufthansa. But one thing about the competition shocked me: the best of all German brands had never been represented.

Unsurprisingly, we immediately signed up SAP for this year’s contest. This means we commit to supporting students on their path to understanding what SAP does, and guiding their ideas for our business. Two schools took the first step with us: the German International School Sydney sent some of their students to our office to learn more about us, while Korowa Anglican Girls’ School in Melbourne asked me to come in and present SAP to their students and teachers.

While the school in Sydney picked other companies for their ideas, Korowa went all-in with SAP and appointed ten teams of three girls to come up with business ideas for our company. It was incredibly inspiring to see students on their journey, from never-having-heard-of-SAP to coming up with concepts like machine-learning-driven parking allocation, a sustainable-living app for kids and parents, or a smart fridge, ‘FRIDGR’. It was brilliant seeing how much excitement the competition created at the school, as well as the amazing support given to the students by Korowa’s teachers, deputy-principal and principal.

Once the students had submitted their ideas, we were all thrilled to hear that FRIDGR made it to the top 5 entrants in Australia. This meant six of the Korowa Anglican Girls’ School students were invited to travel to Sydney for the event, to take part in the final award ceremony.

For the final in November, hundreds of students, company representatives, journalists and several members of the Australian and German governments met at the Goethe Institute HQ in Woollahra. As a team, we were nervous about the final results, not least because students from some of the other schools had some amazing ideas for companies like Aldi, Lufthansa and DB Schenker.

As we waited nervously to get the final results, the announcement was made….and it was Korawa and SAP’s FRIDGR that won first prize in ANZ! And just when we thought we’d had our dream finish already, the APJ winner for the regional contest were also shared…. And we won that too!

Overall, it was an incredible event to be part of. The students were ecstatic they won, and it was great to have SBS German cover the team and their victory, helping spread the word about SAP’s work with schools and universities. Off the back of our work with Korowa students, we also found out that their teachers are really interested in learning about Design Thinking, and we have subsequently done a training session for twenty of them. I’m confident that this will help them guide their students in future.

Most importantly, it was a pleasure introducing a new group of people to the SAP family, products and way of thinking. With ideas as good as FRIDGR, hopefully some of the students will come and work for us one day!