digital ilab

The digital innovation lab is an educational programme of the University of Vienna where participants learn the main tools and principles of entrepreneurship  through a structured process. After an introductory phase, participants build start-up teams of 2 to 4 people to develop compelling business models. Course instructors mentor them at every step as they transform an initially rough idea into a mature business concept. At the end of the programme, start-up teams pitch their business idea to a jury of business experts.

In this programme we strive to achieve a high diversity of backgrounds. The ideal cohort will be formed by students of all genders and disciplinary areas (social and human sciences, economics, computer sciences, and natural sciences) equally represented. To make it easily accessible to international students, the entire course will be taught in English. The digital ilab is open to master students, PhD candidates, and postdocs. Participants do not have to apply with an entrepreneurial idea; we accept participants both without and with an initial idea. It is important, though, that if they participate with an early idea, they have not yet started working on a prototype. Master students interested in receiving ECTS should register both on this page and on u:space.



3-month intensive programme (150+ hours of class) for master students, PhD candidates, and postdocs.


Teams will build around ideas proposed by students. Only a few ideas will be chosen by participants in a selection process.


The programme revolves around the overarching theme of human-technology relationship.

building blocks

The course is structured around four main modules necessary to build a sound business model. Each module contains a set of different workshops providing the knowledge and the tools needed to develop the business idea with the team. In addition to these fundamental building blocks, we support the teams throughout the course both with dedicated TEAM-WORK ACTIVITIES and with ad-hoc coaching sessions.


Students will work in teams to identify, evaluate, and realise business ideas addressing a defined customer need. They will experience what it means to be a founder through the acquisition of soft enterprising skills and of relevant business concepts. 


In this core module, participants will form teams, learn about human centred innovation with focus on human-technology relationships, and will test, and improve their business ideas through various cycles of observation, prototyping and learning.  


Experts will interact with the teams and teach them important aspects of digital technologies, their impact on society, and their business applications. This will provide a sound basis to develop solutions that exploit recent developments in a ethical and sustainable way. 


All teams will receive legal mentoring from the researchers at the Department of Innovation and Digitalisation in Law to understand potential challenges, address legal issues, and plan for the future. Mentoring will be conducted via individual meetings with the teams and their legal mentors.

programme schedule

Most sessions will be held in the co-working space in Apostelgasse 23, 1030 Vienna. The pitch training sessions will take place at INiTS, and the demo day in the Skylounge of the University of Vienna. The schedule below might be slightly changed before the start of the course; please refer to the final schedule provided by the course coordinator at the kick-off.

  • Kick-off

    5 March, 9 – 15: Opening speech and welcome, dos and don'ts of the programme, and intro to the main principles of innovation.


    8 March, 10 – 12:30: Innovation & Leadership for Innovation

    11 March, 10 – 12:30: Emotional intelligence & self-awareness

    12 March, 9 – 15: Business model canvas I and Minimum Viable Product I on case study

    13 March, 10 – 17: Innovation atelier I – forming topics & teams

    14 March, 9 – 13: Why startups fail

    18 March, 9 – 12: Strategy

    19 March, 10 – 17: Innovation atelier II – theory input & observation strategy

    20 March, 13 – 15: Team dynamics & team profiles


    9 April, 10 – 17: Innovation atelier III – Presencing

    10 April, 10 – 17: Innovation atelier IV – Prototyping 1

    15 April, 9 – 15: Large Language Models (TBC)

    16 April, 14 – 16: Team coaching

    17 April, 9 – 15: Team activity I

    18 April, 9 – 15: Doing data Science

    23 April, 9 – 13: Digital Ethics and Ethical digital entrepreneurship

    24 April, 9 – 15: Business Model Canvas II

    25 April, 9 – 15: Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality

    7 May, 10 – 17: Innovation atelier V – Prototyping 2


    14 May, 9 – 15: Business Model Canvas III

    15 May, 9 – 15: Minimum Viable Product II

    16 May, 9 – 15: Team activity II

    21 May, 12 – 15: Legal considerations I

    23 May, 9 - 15: Financial modeling I

    28 May, 9 – 12: Strategy, competition, and Market analysis

    29 May, 9 – 12: Legal considerations II & mentoring

    4 June, 9 – 15: Team activity III

    5 June, 9 – 15: Market research

    11 June, 9 – 12: Legal considerations III & mentoring

    12 June, 9 – 15: Wrap up – bringing all together

    13 June, 9 - 15: Team activity IV

    14 June, 10 – 12: Pitch training I

    18 June, 9 – 14: Pitch training II

    19 June, 9 – 14: Pitch training III

    20 June, 9 – 14: Pitch training IV


    21 June, 17 – 21: pitch competition and award ceremony

pitch competition

At the end of the course, the teams will pitch their business idea to a jury of external experts. The pitch competition will be held at the Skylounge of the University of Vienna on the 21st of June 2024. The teams will be assessed according to the following criteria:
  • Business idea: feasibility, originality, sustainability, and impact.
  • Presentation: structure, clarity, creativity, and timekeeping.
The best teams will have the opportunity to enter the INiTS SCALEup programme. Some teams will be also invited to compete for u:seed, a programme of the University of Vienna providing further training, expert mentoring, and financial support.

important notice

This is an application-oriented project course that deepens and extends the theoretical skills of the students through practical application to a real case. This programme is accompanied by a University course for master students who are interested in receiving 8 ECTS for their work. Those students should both apply on this page and register to the university course via u:space. Please consider that the actual workload of the course is usually above the nominal 8 ECTS awarded. Participants must commit to attend 80% of all classes and events to successfully complete the course. Due to their importance in reaching the course goals, 100% attendance is recommended for a successful completion of the course. All session will be in-person. It’s not possible to attend online. During the course, the teams will also work on deliverables to be submitted to the coordinator within given deadlines.


Given the high demand we have set up a two-step procedure to register to the course. In the first step, you should register using the link below. The deadline for applications is the 22nd of February 2024. By the 27th of February, we will contact the accepted participants and invite them to register through the university platform.

In previous years, a few applicants dropped out of the course only a few days before kick-off. This is not fair for the many people in the waiting list who could not join on a short notice. Most of the time, the reason to drop out was that they could not commit to so many hours in class. Therefore, before you apply, we kindly ask you to check the schedule above and the important notice on the course requirements. We welcome applications only from students motivated to actively participating in the course. This is particularly important for successful team work and to garantee excellent quality of the business ideas presented at the end of the course. If you have an entrepreneurial idea but are not able to commit to this course, we invite you to join our slack workspace to get information about future programmes.

Eligibility criteria:

  1. you are a strongly motivated to learn how to start an innovative company
  2. you might have an initial idea but have not built a prototype yet
  3. you are a master student, PhD or postdoc (PhD candidates should check with their doctoral school if they are eligible for the 8 ECTS)


The Digital iLab gives great support for beginning entrepreneurs. In the Programm you’ll meet a diverse group of likeminded people from different backgrounds and get guidance from a multitude of experts on innovation theory and practice as well as hands on business advice.
Zoya & Laura
AI Garden
I would highly recommend the digital ilab to every aspiring young founder. It is a great place to meet like-minded entrepreneurs, get valuable insights from experts and help you further develop the skills needed for building and shaping your digital companies.
Attending the digital ilab was not only an incredible learning opportunity for each of us individually, but without it, our team would never have met. The workshops, mentoring and the ongoing support of the people behind the programme was essential in developing our idea into a real life start-up. We can without doubt say that we’re immensely grateful for this exceptional opportunity and would recommend it to anyone interested in engaging in stimulating discourse with likeminded, interesting individuals passionate about creating meaningful innovation in the world.
Nicole, Gabriel, Yagmur, & Christina
It was a pleasure being part of the digital ilab. This fusion of cognitive science and entrepreneurship provides a broad know how and skill set to any open-minded upcoming founder.
The Digital Innovation Lab is an excellent program for anyone interested in exploring the startup ecosystem. With just a general idea at the start, we were able to participate in insightful workshops and connect with amazing peers. This journey helped us refine our initial concept into a well-structured business model and build our first proof of concept. We're truly grateful for this opportunity and look forward to advancing further on our entrepreneurial journey.
Felix & Chris

pitches of the digital ilab 2023


The digital ilab is coordinated by the DLE Research Services and Career Development and the Research Network Data Science. For enquiries, please contact

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