In a nutshell:


Facts & Main Elements

  • Introduction of the new module “Digital Transformation: Strategies and Sustainability”
  • Module was conducted two times
  • University of Oldenburg: 2 lecturer, 98 students
  • Business partner EWE: 7 coaches, 3 Intrapreneurs
  • Online tools (miro, xd adobe, BigBlueButton, Microsoft-Teams)
  • Online Pitches in front of a jury (EWE (VC, Head of HR) and University of Oldenburg)
  • Term paper: process of the practical projects and general implications for the integration of social and ecological criteria in the context of digitalization
  • Dissemination of the results within organization
  • Use of the results for the validation and development of the sustainability-driven business model of an internal start-up Codyo


What‘s new? / Assessment

  • A unique feature of the module is the role of the business partner. The business partner is both a challenge provider and a coach/teacher.
  • Fully digital cooperation: teaching and collaboration
  • Students learn and apply new agile methods, which are latest best practice methods
  • Very positive evaluation of the result by the business partner. Recommendations of the students were taken up directly by the internal start-up and have been considered in strategic decisions.


Main outcomes

  • Students gain practical experience in use of agile methods e.g., design thinking, prototyping, lightning demos and market research methods e.g., interviews, panel survey in collaboration with a business partner.
  • Students learn how digital business ideas are developed and validated.
  • Students gain experience in using digital tools
  • Students learn how sustainability criteria can be integrated into an ideation and business modelling process.
  • Business partner gets a new perspective on its innovation process, new ideas for sustainable and digital ventures, and insights for the validation and development of the business model of an internal start-up
  • Placement of internships of interested students


Lessons learned & Future plans

  • In times of the corona-pandemic the digital implementation of the module was very successful. In the long term, offline events should also be integrated into the module.
  • The personnel capacities are very high for the business partner. It is reduced in the second round and should be continued in the following rounds.
  • The shift from ideation to the validation/implementation of the new ventures in the second round of the module leads to more directly usable results for the business partners.
  • The difference between the project presentation and the scientific term paper could be clarified for the students in the future.
  • Continuation of the business partner participation is conceivable due to the less personnel capacities and better usable results.

This module  provides insights into the role digitalization for companies and the associated social discourse. The digital transformation leads to the emergence of new business models, markets and forms of interaction. This requires comprehensive changes in strategic orientation as well as in business processes and structures. In addition, new regulations and standards are required at the societal level in order to meet the ethical, ecological, and societal challenges posed by digitization.

In the first part of the seminar, students are familiarized with the basics and application areas of digitalization as well as the economic, social, and ecological implications. Toward this end, important questions in the context of digital transformation will be raised and discussed drawing on company case studies. Exemplary questions that will be dealt with in this context are

  • What are the technological drivers of digitalization and what trends can be observed?
  • What is the impact of digital transformation on industries and companies?
  • How can companies design strategies, business models, processes and structures to address the digital transformation?
  • What are the consequences of digitalization on a societal and legal level?
  • How does the digital transformation affect the natural environment?
  • How can social, ethical, and ecological aspects be integrated into digital products, services and business models?

In the second part of the course, students will develop digital business models in teams under the guidance of experienced coaches, taking into account economic, ecological and social/ethical criteria. The results are presented to the other students and company representatives and will be summarized in a term paper. An important part of the term paper is the critical reflection of current methods used to develop digital business models with regard to sustainability criteria.


Information at: Dr. Irina Tiemann (; Dr. Karsten Hürrelmann ( and prof.dr. Jörn Hoppmann (