The Innovation Contest 2021 up until now!

Within Bertelsmann, technology and creativity are key elements of our work. We embrace everything new and try to approach the latest technological developments with utmost care and curiosity. So, it’s only natural for us to host events like the up-coming Tech & Data week in November. It’s an event with lots of interesting panels revolving around new and exciting topics of the tech & data community. And in the light of said event, we want to highlight a very special competition: The Innovation Contest 2021.

On the second day of the Tech & Data week, 10 teams from different Bertelsmann divisions will go up against a tough jury to earn a place among the final three. Each of their innovative ideas is the result of blood, sweat and tears of the team members. In this blog article, we want to look back at the way the contest evolved. We will talk about how it all started and what the big idea behind the Innovation Contest 2021 was. Who was involved, what were key milestones and where are we now?

Planning and Beginning

The initial idea of the Innovation Contest came about in 2019 as part of a joint management workshop with the basic intention of increasing the innovative power within the Bertelsmann Group. Identifying and developing new use cases, APIs and business models were some of the focus points, especially regarding Tech & Data topics. The contest should not only promote and strengthen this innovation drive but also encourage cross-divisional collaboration. Therefore, the main platform of the Innovation Contest was the Bertelsmann Collaboration Platform – home for all techies throughout the Group and place to find like-minded colleagues, exciting articles and in-development APIs. Involved in the planning of the contest was Arvato Systems, the Corporate Center and the idea creators from the divisions. With lots of transparent communication, the BCP community was always in the loop and received many insights into the collaborative work of the participating teams.

Ideation and Ranking

After the promotion of the Innovation Contest 2021, the first stage began in late May. Teams from across Bertelsmann had the chance to submit an idea which they think would benefit the Group until July 16th. Albeit a slow start, ideas were trickling in. All in all, we received 39 ideas out of 9 different divisions, with Arvato Systems, RTL and PRH bringing forth the most. More than 20 ideas had a cross-divisional focus and some of them were even available as models or applications already. While the ideas were submitted one after another, the BCP community could vote on the projects they found most interesting or beneficial. The most voted on ideas, along with some wild cards picked by us, the organization team, were then invited to pitch in front of a jury consisting of key figures of Bertelsmann to receive a funding of up to 15.000 Euro.

Pitching and Prototyping

The nominated teams started to work on their ideas, making them pitch ready. At the beginning of August, a pre-selection of 16 teams was chosen by the organization team which then had the chance to present their project to the jury on September 3rd. Within the short time of 2 minutes, each of the teams tried its best to impress. In the end, 10 teams were selected to move forward to the next stage. The various ideas are reaching from media databases to customer experience enhancements to content creator platforms. All of them have the potential to improve the work here at the Group one way or another.

As mentioned in the beginning, the teams are currently at this stage – the so-called “Prototyping Phase”. To proceed to the last stretch, the teams are required to develop prototypes of some kind. Those prototypes will then be presented to the jury at the aforementioned Tech & Data Week on November 10th. Out of the initial 39, only three ideas and teams will stay in the Innovation Contest afterwards. By holding check-in sessions with the teams, we always got a good look at the teams’ progress’ and were amazed by their work in such a short time. We are very excited of what we are going to see next week.

Phase 3 and the Future

By overcoming the second pitch event, the three remaining teams will receive a funding of up to 100.000 Euro to develop their project even further. The last obstacle for them will be the final pitch in front of the Bertelsmann Board in April 2022. We don’t know what exactly the teams will prepare until then, but we are certain their projects will be one thing: magnificent additions to the Group.

We hope we could give a rough overview of the on-going Innovation Contest 2021 and what’s happening behind the scenes. As everyone probably knows, innovations drive businesses forward. And with such a contest we can combine the already existing inventive forces within Bertelsmann to create new and exhilarating projects. This probably won’t be the last Innovation Contest, so we are excited for all new (and old or returning) ideas and teams in the future, and we hope you, too.

The Teams and their Ideas

Contract AI / Arvato Systems

Different types of contracts can be checked at the push of a button for suitability by an AI.

How to make money online (fast)? / Arvato Systems + BMG

Digital assets can be auctioned off as on NFT marketplaces via button press.

Content & Rights Cloud Platform / PRH

Be able to not only find company-wide content, but also understand fine-grained rights dependencies.

ProsAIc / BMG + RTL:

Match video sequences to song sequences automatically via AI.

Next Level Customer Experience Cloud (CXC) / Arvato Supply Chain Solutions

Collect data points across supply chains and use it for delivery time predictions.

BeCause / PRH

Processing social media data insights in order to get signals about trends relevant to book publishing.

MediaGraph / Arvato Systems

A Content “Knowledge Graph” backend that can organize all the Group’s content meta data semantically intelligent.

Tainify, Arvato Systems

Publish online magazines based on trends and existing content at the push of a button. Can add AI-written Content (GPT3).

BeTrend, Corporate Tech & Data

Can analyse trends to detect meta trends (over time). Can provide insights to other applications via API.

Musaeum, Fremantle

Visual exploration of Bertelsmann content as an internal tool for employees (Netflix-like UI for Usability).