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Susanne Soumelidis
Susanne Soumelidis

After the huge success of our Innovation Challenge last year, we are back again, in collaboration with Google Cloud, for Innovation Challenge 2024! As part of the first step, we encouraged companies to submit their best and brightest digitalization ideas for this year. The abundance of high-quality submissions we received attests to an impressive spirit of innovation that continues to inspire us! Ultimately, 10 companies have been shortlisted for the final round. Congratulations to all of them!

Now, we are approaching the grand finale. On May 14, during a virtual Pitch Day, these companies will present their selected innovative ideas to a distinguished jury of experts. They will be evaluated on a wide range of probing criteria such as degree of innovation, feasibility, benefits, and commitment.

We are already thrilled to see who will emerge as the winner and receive a proof-of-concept worth €50,000. One thing is certain: we are fully prepared to bring the winning idea to fruition!
The highly anticipated award ceremony is scheduled for June 17 in Vienna.

The finalists of the Innovation Challenge 2024

Here’s a brief insight into the ideas that will be competing for the Innovation Award 2024 (in alphabetical order):

The idea: "Automated AI-based prediction of protein structures"

AlphaFold, a generative AI framework from Google DeepMind, has revolutionized structural biology. By providing an amino acid sequence in text format, the 3D structure of proteins can be predicted with an astonishing level of detail. In this project, DECTRIS plans to use the GCloud-based AlphaFold AI to offer protein structure prediction as a service to its users and customers in the scientific and industrial research communities.

Erste Digital GmbH
The idea: "NATURAL Copilot"

In an era where the languages of the past are holding back the progress of the present, Erste Digital wants to use the potential of Generative AI as a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) to modernize 'legacy' banking software. We dive into the code jungle of NATURAL - a 4GL language - to re-factor and document it, to create the prerequisites for porting it to a more modern language such as JAVA. It’s indeed a courageous and necessary step toward a digital renaissance in the mainframe world @ Erste Digital!

The idea: "StoreSim Studio"

This idea is about a platform that enables various organizational units (floor and space management, market research, marketing ...) to create dark stores easily and quickly in order to test new concepts, layouts and product placements without the need for physical dark stores. On the platform, self-created 3D scans can be merged into a dark store with just a few clicks and optimal layouts, repositioning, in-store marketing campaigns, etc. can be simulated and tested immersively.

MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH
The idea: "Kappaflow (Business Process Optimizer)"

Kappaflow is a software solution based on an AI multi-agent framework that uses four intelligent, goal-oriented agents that communicate and collaborate with each other to simplify and optimize business processes. Kappaflow analyzes workflows using BPM design methods, identifies bottlenecks using lean/agile principles with best-of-breed operating practices, and orchestrates process optimization with AI predictive analytics.

OEBB Operative Services GmbH & Co KG
The idea: "Real-time situation picture for the targeted deployment of security staff"

By recognizing the travel behavior and volume of our customers, a real-time situation picture is to be created. With this real-time situation picture, stations without customer traffic (there is no one at the station / there are no objects lying around) will no longer have to be approached or checked unnecessarily by security staff. This allows security staff to concentrate on those stations where a need for "security" has been identified.

Oesterreichische Post AG
The idea: "Post Knowledge Base"

We would like to import the instructions for all basic Austrian Post processes into a RAG system and make its information accessible to all Austrian Post employees. The system should make their daily work easier, especially in helping new employees answer customer questions. Since every employee may not have access to a PC or speak German as their native language, the system is to be expanded to include Speech2Text and Text2Speech as well as a translation function.

REWE International AG
The idea: "e-priceAI"

e-priceAI (e for ethical) is a project to introduce a pricing tool for the evaluation, calculation, definition, and optimization of (sales) prices. The implementation and integration, adaptation, and use should be supported in the best possible way by ethically-correct AI components. The ethical correctness of the entire implementation is analyzed and evaluated as per the existing regulations and specifications (e.g. EU ethical guidelines for trustworthy AI, LKSG, CSRD).

UNIQA Österreich Versicherungen AG
The idea: "Travel Buddy - traveling better together"

The "Travel Buddy" feature of the myUNIQA app organizes group trips with a focus on health for Generation Z. It offers health information, travel pharmacy suggestions, and emergency treatment locations as well as sightseeing tips, taking into account the state of health. The innovation includes targeted design, use of Google Cloud for data and AI services, experiments for hypothesis testing, and product innovation for individual group travel, with real-time information and AI analysis.

voestalpine Krems GmbH 
The idea: "Smart Project"

Conversion of the business model for smart vineyard weather stations from one-off sales to a flexible subscription model. By introducing various price packages and incentives for customers to acquire new members, revenue generation is optimized and customer loyalty is strengthened.

whatchado GmbH
The idea: "whatchado Job AI"

With the help of OpenAI, the structure of jobs is standardized, optionally enriched with videos - which are rendered in the Google Cloud - and automatically played out in reel format (job reels). The format enables precise tracking of user performance so that optimizations can be automated. Social media automation enables the job reels to be displayed as ads to passively reach job seekers, who in turn are pre-selected in an AI-supported recruiting funnel.


What incredible innovation power! Thanks to all the companies who took the time to share their ideas with us this year. Each of them has enormous potential and we can't wait to see how they will positively impact our working world, industries, and societies. Together, we are ready to make these ideas a reality! 

Susanne Soumelidis
Susanne Soumelidis