Mercedes-Benz, Ben-Gurion University launch student challenge
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Mercedes-Benz, Ben-Gurion University launch student challenge

Israeli students from every field are invited to develop ideas for the ‘next 100 million’ – a goal deliberately left vague

Mercedes Benz R&D Tel Aviv Head of Innovation Eyal Mayer (left) and BGU's Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation Director Yossi Shavit (Courtesy)
Mercedes Benz R&D Tel Aviv Head of Innovation Eyal Mayer (left) and BGU's Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation Director Yossi Shavit (Courtesy)

Car manufacturing giant Mercedes-Benz and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have launched a project for students, challenging them to find the path to the “Next 100 Million” of any good idea. The next 100 million could be anything, the organizers of the competition said. It could be the next 100 million clicks, new customers, number self-driving cars or hours of charging.

“Defining just what constitutes the ‘100 million’ is part of the challenge,” the organizers said in a statement. “All Israeli students from every field are invited to develop ideas over the next month.”

The challenge is the first launched by the Israeli university’s Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management. The project will be run together with Mercedes-Benz, in what is one of Mercedes-Benz’s first collaborations with a university since the German giant inaugurated its new R&D center in Tel Aviv last month.

The idea is to connect the competitors to real-world opportunities, and offers global organizations, like Mercedes-Benz, a way to present their problems and gain access to the new and innovative thinking of students from a variety of fields and backgrounds, the university said.

Daimler AG chairman, Dieter Zetsche, center, with Ola Källenius, the head of group research at Mercedes-Benz Cars Development (left) at the launch of the Mercedes-Benz Tel Aviv Tech Center; Nov. 16, 2017 (Shoshanna Solomon/TimesofIsrael)

The students, on their part, get practical experience tackling real-world challenges, which they can use as tools and experience for future jobs.

“In a data-driven world, it is hard to imagine that one person or a single research facility has all the solutions to the challenges a global organization faces,” said Bengis Center director Yossi Shavit. “Sometimes, the solution may originate with the customer, other times from management, but more often than not, a fresh perspective is required. That is the Challenge Competition’s guiding principle.”

Eyal Mayer, head of Innovation at Mercedes-Benz R&D Tel Aviv, said that the challenge seeks to uncover new and groundbreaking ideas. “We will consider integrating these ideas into our future technologies and business models,” he said. The collaboration with BGU is part of the global corporation’s strategy of creating an ecosystem of “innovative and creative” concepts, the statement said.

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz runs 25 R&D centers globally, employing some 16,000 people in 11 countries. These work together to provide new products, services, technologies and ideas that have to potential to change the future of the automotive industry and people’s driving habits, Mercedes-Benz said.

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