Prof. Dr. h.c. Hasso Plattner

Global Team-Based Innovation (GTI)

SUGAR Network

Global Team-Based Innovation is a course for master students of the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI). The students tackle design innovation challenges of prominent global companies in collaboration with students of other leading global universities. Within the course, HPI is a partner in ME310 (projects with the Stanford University) as well as the SUGAR network (projects with other global universities).

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The course in a nutshell


Who could explain this course better than Larry Leifer? Right, nobody. Here you go: Tele Task Video. But if you just want the brief, continue reading, below.

Students from Potsdam and leading global partner universities tackle design innovation challenges posed by global corporations. The course lead by Stanford University is focused on teaching students the innovation methods and processes required for designers, engineers, and project managers of the future. Through the projects, students go through an intense and iterative process of need finding, ideation, and rapid prototyping to create and evaluate new concepts. Company involvement provides the reality check necessary for teams to improve their innovation abilities. A professional coach, corporate liaisons and faculty advisors support the teams. Projects typically involve systems integration and include a mix of mechanical, electronic and software design. The results of all projects are real prototypes that have a user centric design, are economically viable and technically feasible. For more information, visit the Stanford course web site for Mechanical Engineering 310.

Team Structure

Each team consists of 6-8 globally distributed students (3-4 students in Potsdam / 3-4 students at the global partner university) who are required to stay in frequent dialog and have one weekly meeting with their coaches and a status call with the corporate liaisons. Video conferencing systems and a dedicated project room are provided. Usually two teams from Potsdam participate in the design challenge. The number of participants is limited by the team size. Selection is done based on applications.

Participant Profile & Application

We expect attending students to fully commit to their team and allow two days a week for this course. Candidates should present with in-depth technical knowledge, be passionate about the task at hand, and prepared to dedicate their creative energy to the team's success.

If you want to participate in the 2016/2017 projects, please send your application via email to tteam.gti(at)lists.myhpi.de

  • A brief overview of past and current projects 
  • Interesting extracurricular activities, hobbies, etc.
  • A motivational statement (max. 5 sentences; please refrain from creating long, nested sentences) that shows why you want to join the course

Participation is only possible for students that are currently enrolled in the HPI master's program. If you plan to start your master's studies in the winter term 2016/17, you can already apply and receive your acceptance notification along with the official confirmation from the HPI administration.

Please note that you cannot simultaneously enroll in this course and an HPI Master's Project during the summer term 2017.

Deadlines & Timetable:

  • The application period for the 2016/17 course is on!
  • Deadline for initial applications is July 23, 2016
  • Deadline for applications of new master students is September 18, 2016
  • Course work starts with a 2-day workshop at the beginning of October
  • Project kickoff: mid of October


In addition to an exceptional learning experience, participants get the chance to work with market-leading corporations. At the end of each year, students present their solutions in booths at the EXPE Design Fair.

Lighthouse Project - Lapeyre Intemporel

During the project year 2013/14, a team of four HPI students and four colleagues from the Paris d.school created an amazing solution for a challenge that was simply made for ME310: Create the perfect bathroom for elderly people. 

Supported by their industry partner, the french furniture company Lapeyre, the team started to observe and understand the everyday struggles that seniors face within the bathroom. The one that stood out most: doing your morning and evening routines is challenging with age, as more steps are required and standing up for prolonged periods of time is exhausting.

Based on this finding, the students conceived multiple possible solutions and tested them in the form of low-fidelity prototypes with people in retirement homes or even their own grandparents. It quickly became apparent that the main idea, a retractable chair that can be conveniently hidden underneath a coverable sink, solves all the identified pain points and should therefore become the final solution. This final, almost production ready prototype was then built with the help of Lapeyre engineers in France.

After highly praised presentations at the EXPE events in Stanford, Paris, and Potsdam, Lapeyre continued to develop the idea and now sells an almost identical version of the final prototype through their french stores.

Project Archive

Students in earlier projects virtualized the car manual for Audi, and created a gesture-based magic wand for Siemens to control machines, robots, and production lines. Other teams worked on the issues of globally distributed knowledge work or invented a video conferencing solution that creates a feeling of collaborative data analysis that combines state-of-the-art in-memory database technology with an intuitive multi-touch interface. Project challenges varied from innovative electrical toothbrushes to full-scale airports of the future.