57 concepts and over 200 students from Leuphana University in an idea competition in Lüneburg!

Since the start of the RUMORE project the Office for Regional Development Lüneburg (ArL) has intensified its cooperation with local universities in order to support them to develop and implement (ERDF funded) cooperation projects with local companies and other regional stakeholders. The cooperation grew to a higher level, when in spring 2018 the ArL and Leuphana University Lüneburg launched a first of its kind student idea competition for sustainable development of rural areas.

From April to July 2018 over 200 master students worked intensively on the development of 57 project concepts. The groups of students elaborated innovative ideas for the improvement of the working and living conditions in the Eastern part of Lüneburg region and developed proposals for increasing the added value in pre-selected local communities or counties.

A jury of eight regional stakeholders decided on the most innovative and feasible project ideas. The first price wan the project “REDDER – The First Aid Drone”. REDDER illustrates how the medical emergency care in rural areas could be significantly improved via the use of special drones equipped with a defibrillator and additional first aid equipment. In their project, the group of business engineer students analyzed the current data sets about rescue operations and worked out a first business plan for the use of drones by municipal rescue directing centers.

The bunch of submitted project ideas was broad – from concepts for co-working spaces and mobile learning offers through alternative models for food supply to new leisure and tourism activities such as geocaching events. A project that raised the interest of many of the local stakeholders envisaged the establishment of a training ground in a spa town. The testing ground will enable individuals with reduced mobility to practice the use of walking aids like rollators in a pleasant environment.

The idea competition was the first time in which the Office for Regional Development Lüneburg and the majority of the jury members worked directly together with students, but definitely not the last time. Everybody was overwhelmed by the quality of the results and follow up activities are already planned. In November 2018, for instance, all mayors, business developers, county commissioners, LEADER regional manager and other stakeholders from the whole region are invited to a presentation of the best student concepts. The main aim of the event is to discuss on possible ways for the implementation of the student ideas.