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Innovative thought leaders in Germany explore our digital future

July 18, 2022 | 4 min read

By Petra Ullrich

Group photo of 'Think Digital 2022' scholarship holders

Recipients of the Think Digital Scholarship 2022 talk about how digitization could transform our future

Over the past two years, digital transformation has gained a new urgency. Everyone has had to face the upheavals triggered by the pandemic, with digitization being an essential part in finding answers to certain questions.

Digitization has not only been shaping our private lives but also the way we manage our everyday work: the household robot now takes care of vacuuming, lectures can be followed from anywhere, digital work concepts are creating a whole new, modern form of flexible working.

While some are still adjusting and getting used to these changes, others are already exploring the digital trends of tomorrow. How will digitization continue to change our lives in the coming years?

This was one of the questions addressed by the 20 fellows of the Think Digital Scholarship 2022opens in new tab/window at the kick-off event May 13 in Munich.

Now in its fourth round, Think Digital is a scholarship for students in the Munich area — the first of its kind. The scholarship supports technology-enthusiastic students who have demonstrated exceptional professional success in the digital field and seek to play a leading role in shaping our future. In that way, Think Digital is designed to strengthen and expand their digital skills to support them in the future development of visionary digital ideas.

The initiator of this unique scholarship is the Internet Business Cluster (IBC)opens in new tab/window, consisting of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)opens in new tab/window and the University of Regensburgopens in new tab/window in collaboration with various companies including Elsevier.

Fellows reflect on the evolution of the digital age

Think Digital 2022 scholarship winners presenting

Think Digital 2022 scholarship winners presenting

The kick-off event started off with a welcoming speech by Prof Dr Johann Kranzopens in new tab/window, IBC Chairman and Chair of Digital Services and Sustainability at LMU, and Ingo Faecksopens in new tab/window, IBC Board Member and Executive Board Member of Serviceplan Groupopens in new tab/window. Afterwards, the scholarship holders received an exclusive starter kit and the valuable opportunity to network and exchange ideas at lunch with attending company representatives.

Topics discussed included the digital transformation of recent years and future trends and challenges and risks posed by advancing digitization. The nine women and 11 men of this year’s Think Digital cohort focused on questions such as:

  • Where has digital transformation had the greatest impact on our lives in recent years?

  • How will digitization change students’ lives in the coming years?

  • What are the dangers of increasing digitization, and how can they be prevented?

The students based their answers on personal interests and their experiences in the digital field. For example, Paul Klausing, who studies Responsibility in Science, Engineering and Technology at LMU, drew attention to the blending of two distinct worlds:

"The global crises of recent years have completely erased the separation of my analog and digital worlds."

Sissi Spendel shared personal mid-pandemic experiences, explaining that she never imagined that her architecture studies would also run completely online:

"The fact that this was made possible after all shows how important digitization is in our world."

Regarding digital future trends, Lisa Knauck, Politics and Technology student at the Technical University of Munichopens in new tab/window, highlighted the development of artificial intelligence, especially deep learning, as well as digitization in relation to climate change.

Verim Ajdini questioned “how the metaverse of the future can be used to improve the user experience and how blockchain can be used to enable digital sustainability.”

Sharing this curiosity about the metaverse is Julia Yukovich, who is studying Chemical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich. She reported:

"A week ago, I toured a lab via Gesture Spot from Boston Dynamics. Developing that further and soon being able to control entire plants and robots from the metaverse — unique."

Meanwhile, Henrik Petersen, Management and Technology student at the Technical University of Munich, focused on the digital potential for shaping the future in a completely different area: the education system.

“Children need to be excited about education,” he said. To that end, he sees virtual learning spaces as a meaningful way to make education more interactive and fun.

When asked about the dangers and risks of increasing digitization, Áron Németh, a Development, Production and Management student at the Technical University of Munich, drew attention to the vast amounts of information available, which are often processed without interpretation or context. His solution:

"Data should be checked for its source and used in context."

At the same time, Consumer Science student Valentina Ehle highlighted the potential overburdening of society by the digital transformation and suggested prevention through “integrating digitization into the school curriculum and establishing a culture of lifelong learning.”

In the end, the drive to learn may have been one of the decisive reasons for the 20 aspiring entrepreneurs to apply for the Think Digital scholarship, where they will benefit from more than a refined skill set. Among the 2022 cohort, there is also great motivation to become part of the vibrant digital network of the Munich metropolitan region and to actively shape our future as digital thought leaders through exchange and collaboration.