July 05th 2024

Tyrolean Ideas Competition Inspires Students

State Councilor Cornelia Hagele, Jürgen Gschnell, Deputy Director of Caritas of the Diocese of Innsbruck, and Lukas Kerschbaumer from MCI honor the winners

In times of significant societal challenges such as demographic changes, ecological upheaval, and economic uncertainty, there is a need to reframe the way we approach some of these issues and think ‘outside the box’. The project, "Innovations in Social and Healthcare - The Society of Tomorrow", is a competition jointly initiated by Caritas of the Diocese of Innsbruck, the Land Tirol, and the Social, Health, and Public Management study program in collaboration with the Center for Social & Health Innovation at MCI in February 2024, open to upper secondary school students across Austria. It serves as a platform for projecting the voice of the young generation’s aspirations to become society’s changemakers.

The students were invited to share their visions for the future of social and healthcare systems, aiming not just to respond to current and future societal problems but to actively shape solutions. Some of the most outstanding ideas include the creation of a village for elderly people to enhance social participation for them, innovative approaches to the inclusion of migrants, to the use of artificial intelligence in cancer diagnosis.

The winning projects that were selected from 33 submissions by an expert jury stood out for their creativity and innovation potential. They impressively demonstrated how strong commitment is a key ingredient to implement positive changes in society. An upcoming new edition of the competition is planned for launch in Autumn 2024 to continue fostering young talent and developing fresh ideas to tackle risingchallenges that may call for multi-pronged approaches, adaptability and resilience in systems and structures.

State Councilor Cornelia Hagele, together with Jürgen Gschnell, Deputy Director of Caritas of the Diocese of Innsbruck, and Lukas Kerschbaumer, representing the Center for Social & Health Innovation (CSHI) and Head of the Social, Health, & Public Management (SGPM) program at MCI, presented the prizes to the winners.

Winning Projects:

  1. Senior Village – Alexia Bader and Gabriel Bogdanovic propose the creation of a "senior village" to promote social participation for the elderly and counteract loneliness. The concept includes both residential options and community facilities such as supermarkets, parks, and cafes to create a livable environment for seniors.
  2. One World, Many Voices: Inclusion of Migrants – Johanna Raschhofer, Sara-Maria Bora, Lara Kisioglu, Anna Prisching, Emma Handl, Aischat Taramova, and Yaren Diskiran developed a buddy system to better integrate migrants. This system aims to foster personal relationships between locals and newcomers based on shared interests and professional backgrounds, thereby improving social inclusion.
  3. Cancer Diagnosis through AI – Meqat Al-Zbedy and Izel Aslan present an approach to using artificial intelligence in cancer diagnosis. Their project aims to improve the early detection and treatment of cancer by enhancing existing imaging techniques with AI to enable more precise diagnoses and optimize treatment processes.

State Councilor Cornelia Hagele: "Considering the development of the age structure in the coming years, it is clear that we must continue to rethink and innovate in the social and healthcare sectors. Innovative thinking and action are becoming increasingly important in addressing challenges such as staff shortages. Young people play a crucial role in developing innovative solutions for complex tasks. Initiatives like the MCI ideas competition are designed to excite youth about 'research and innovation' at an early stage. They are encouraged to expand their knowledge in digitalization and innovative thinking and apply it to the vital areas of social and healthcare"

Jürgen Gschnell, Deputy Director of Caritas of the Diocese of Innsbruck: "It is very important for us as Caritas to let young people express their visions for a good future."

Elisabeth Rathgeb, Director of Caritas of the Diocese of Innsbruck: "The ideas competition motivates young people to develop creative social concepts. This enriches our work at Caritas and strengthens social cohesion. I thank everyone who participated and MCI for the excellent cooperation!"

Lukas Kerschbaumer (SHPM & CSHI): "It was particularly noteworthy that some students were encouraged and supported by their teachers to submit their ideas. This turned the ideas competition into an event not only for students but also for classes and schools. This is a pleasing side effect that further promotes innovations in the social and healthcare sectors."