E&I touchdown | best thesis award to E&I graduates

February 02, 2016

2 graduates of the Professional MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation came in first place: Katharina Mewald & Josef Aschl

E&I Touchdown Award Ceremony on January 20, 2016

The coveted award for the best thesis is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the WU Executive Academy's Professional MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation. This year, there are 2 joint winners: During the E&I Touchdown on January 20th, 2016, Katharina Mewald and Josef Aschl were presented with the Best Thesis Award.

The panel of judges, composed of the program's academic directors, Prof. Nikolaus Franke and Prof. Sabine T. Köszegi, simply could not decide on one winner, so this year's MBA Best Thesis Award, the prize for the best Professional MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation thesis, went to two joint winners — Katharina Mewald and Josef Aschl.

4 Professional MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation alumni from the 2013-2015 class had been shortlisted for the award:

  • Nuno Miguel Gomes Andrade: "The Impact of Public Funding of Life Sciences Research on the Demography of the Austrian Biotech Industry During the Last Decade"

  • Josef Aschl: "Business Case for a Novel Waste Treatment Process"

  • Katharina Mewald: "Cloud Computing in Austria’s Public Sector: Barriers to Technology Acceptance and How to Overcome Them"

  • Annelies Smoliner: "Success Factors of Distribution Channel Management in a Passenger Rail Transport Market in Austria"

"My master thesis is about cloud computing in Austria’s public sector. I interviewed numerous users to learn more about the barriers to technology acceptance in the public sector. Based on their valuable input, I then explored the question of how best to overcome these barriers in practice," explains finalist Katharina Mewald, Business Consultant at IBM Austria. "Combining various theories on technology acceptance with personal interviews in order to make a number of specific recommendations on how to address a practical problem was an incredibly rewarding experience. Today, my colleagues and I use the findings of my work as a starting point for developing tailor-made cloud computing solutions for the public sector."

Co-winner Josef Aschl completed a thesis in which he developed a business plan for a novel waste treatment process. He is now the founder of Aschl Environmental Systems.

Josef Aschl, Katharina Mewald and Prof. Nikolaus Franke (left to right)

Elevator pitch—the ultimate pitching challenge

The Best Thesis Award ceremony took place during the 25th E&I Touchdown — the huge end-of-term event organized by WU Vienna's Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Guest speaker Dr. Heinz Pernegger, from the CERN-based cooperation partner of the E&I Institute, and Fulbright Visiting Professor Scott Swan both offered interesting insights on this occasion.

Apart from featuring the presentation of the Best Thesis Awards, the E&I Touchdown challenged the numerous teams participating in the E&I project classes to sum up their achievements of the past term in just 30 seconds.

"Entrepreneurs who pitch their ideas and projects in a professional, concise and compelling manner dramatically increase their chances of success in fiercely competitive markets — and this is especially true with regard to a field that is about innovative ideas," says Prof. Nikolaus Franke, who is not only the academic director of the Professional MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation but also the head of WU Vienna's Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He adds, "in this context, the E&I Touchdown is the perfect event for our students as it offers them an opportunity to come up with fresh ideas and put their skills to the test in a creative and constructive environment."

Congratulations to the winners of the Best Thesis Award Class 2013-2015!

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