Project “Playcare” wins anti-corona idea competition of IT Inkubator GmbH

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Parents are currently under strong pressure to fulfill their professional obligations in the home office and at the same time to care of their children. The project “Playcare” wants to help out with special learning boxes, which contents parents can select and order online according to their child’s wishes. With this idea, a German-Swiss team has won the competition of the IT Inkubator GmbH, which is funded with 10,000 euros. The first boxes are planned to be available for order on the Internet as early as the summer.

“Who these days has the time to spend hours on searching the Internet for ideas, reading additional books on education and developmental psychology, and then developing concepts themselves and getting the necessary crafting materials?”, explains Tim Senn. Together with media scientist Joëlle Salathe and civil engineer Dominik Wiesent, the Swiss-based strategy and marketing consultant has therefore developed “Playcare”. The novel play and learning boxes can be put together online to fit the developmental phases and interests of each child. In an online questionnaire parents can provide information about age, number, situation and interests of their children, the system then generates a custom-made box. “We have created a database with play and learning concepts for this purpose. The games are produced with sustainable materials or can be assembled at home and are supplemented with digital elements,” Senn explains. 

Digital elements, such as washing machine noises for the cardboard washing machine or a film sequence on natural materials on the video platform “YouTube” can be accessed by parents after receiving the box and using the enclosed QR-codes. Senn could not yet give details about the exact price, but ensures that it will be affordable and that free digital content will also be available. Currently, the team is concentrating on finding other partners and investors in addition to Saarbrücken-based IT Inkubator GmbH.

“With the IT Inkubator we won a partner with extensive IT know-how and a corresponding network. This is good for us, because advanced digital technologies such as augmented reality and machine learning are an integral part of our road map. The university background is also beneficial because our product development is strongly driven by interdisciplinary scientific knowledge,” says Senn. The prize money from the competition will now be invested in the production of the first boxes, individual technical aspects and the design concept. The development of the online platform will take place in Saarbruecken, since, according to Senn, “the location stands out due to its IT infrastructure.” In addition, employees of Playcare will be given the possibility to work in the Saarbrücken coworking space “Fase 15”, which supports the competition as a cooperation partner.  

Sebastian Leber, incubation manager at the IT incubator, explains the jury’s decision in favour of Playcare as follows: “We have underpinned all ideas with an evaluation methodology which, on the one hand, took into account the concrete problem solution and, on the other, the extent to which the idea will still have a major impact after the Corona crisis. It was also crucial for us that a certain uniqueness was combined with a sophisticated business model. Playcare has impressively demonstrated that this is possible with their idea. The team at IT Inkubator GmbH is looking forward to support this development”.

Background IT Inkubator

The shareholders of IT Inkubator GmbH are Max Planck Innovation GmbH and Wissens- und Technologietransfer GmbH (WuT), representing Saarland University. In addition to rooms and equipment, the employees of the IT Incubator also provide financial support and access to the network of experts. The aim is to help founders find financial and industrial partners at an early stage. The IT Incubator is financed by the State Chancellery from state funds and funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

More Information:

Questions can be direct to:
Sebastian Leber
IT Inkubator GmbH
Universität des Saarlandes

Tim Senn
Co-founder Playcare