The Ideas Lab is an interactive and free-thinking workshop that aims to bring together a unique mix of expertise from various disciplines to form teams that produce high quality research concepts. The emphasis is placed on a cross-disciplinary approach to foster new collaborations and bring new thinking to the problem encouraging innovative ways of problem-solving. This highly innovative method encourages the co-operative generation of new ideas and will open possibilities for completely new research constellations and boundary- spanning activities. During the Ideas Lab, a selected group of scientists from a diverse range of disciplines and different career levels come together to immerse themselves in an inspiring collaborative thinking process. In this creative environment, the Ideas Lab facilitates the formation of interdisciplinary research teams around innovative research concepts. The Ideas Lab aims to enable the selected team performing interdisciplinary research that has a strong societal benefit, potentially taking revolutionary approaches to the complex challenges.

Raphaela Kaisler

Ex Liaison Officer Mental Health and Program Manager Ideas Lab

The Ideas Lab is a very effective approach to bringing people together that don’t normally interact, catalyzing and developing new research ideas. It develops interactions between diverse groups of researchers and stakeholders, leading to the formation of sustainable networks. It also stimulates highly innovative and more risk-accepting research activities that encourage working and thinking differently. This cross-disciplinary approach fosters new collaborations and brings new thinking to the problem, encouraging innovative ways of problem-solving.

Mental Health Ideas Lab

The Ideas Lab on Mental Health of Children and Adolescents focused on “Children of mentally ill parents”.

The Ideas Lab served as a catalyst to help scientists from various disciplines to generate research proposals within the scope of one or more of the research challenges identified by the community. The Ideas Lab took place near Vienna, Austria, from May 24 – 28, 2017, inviting 30 researchers to participate in the workshop and find innovative approaches to the complex challenges of children of mentally ill parents. The ideas Lab was powered by Knowinnovation

Assessment of the newly generated project proposals was based on these five criteria.

Mental Health Research Groups

As a result of the Mental Health Ideas Lab, two Research Groups and their proposed research concepts were funded with a budget of 3 million euros for a period  four years (2018-2021).


D.O.T. – Die Offene Tür (The Open Door)


Social connectedness – the feeling of ‚belonging‘ that relates to the quality of a person’s social network – is a crucial factor in mental and emotional wellbeing and healthy development. This is especially true for young people in times of change, such as the transition from primary to secondary school, and when coping with external challenges such as parental mental illness.

This project explores the mechanisms of social connectedness to develop a highly innovative program, taking place both in classrooms and online, to enhance the skills young people need to navigate their complex social environments and adaptively cope with stress. It addresses all adolescents between 9 and 12 years but places specific emphasis on children of parents with mental illness (COPMI).


1. Develop a model of social connectedness and its determinants in adolescents at school transition, with a specific emphasis on the experience of COPMI.

2. Co-develop and evaluate a blended intervention to improve social connectedness, comprising (i) a cross-curricular classroom workshop on social wellbeing and positive engagement (SWEP) and (ii) a unique and safe digital platform combining educational games with online interaction with other young people to train skills relevant for social connectedness.


A comprehensive understanding of social connectedness and its mechanisms is developed based on a systematic literature review and qualitative research with young people and relevant stakeholders. In a process of ongoing stakeholder consultation and co-development with schools, intervention components are developed to best address individual adolescent needs to achieve good social connectedness, i.e. the SWEP, educational games, and online platform to link the digital experiences and stimulate real-life communication and connectedness between adolescents. The program is then piloted in schools and mental health services to evaluate the new techniques with hundreds of young people, including those most at risk.

Public engagement

Young people themselves (COPMI and non-COPMI), parents with and without mental illness, and a broad range of educational experts and healthcare professionals, contribute to every stage of development, influencing the design of both classroom activities and digital experiences.

D.O.T. – Die Offene Tür: find out more

Village – How to raise a village to raise a child

Children of parents with a mental illness (COPMI) are more likely to experience negative long-term adversities, however interventions to support the needs of COPMI early can significantly reduce poor outcomes. It is estimated that one in four children currently lives with a parent with mental illness worldwide. Although there are currently no precise estimates, lifelong impact for individuals, governments and wider society is likely to be substantial. At the moment, there are significant barriers to the early identification of COPMI, particularly within the mental health care system. As a result, they remain invisible and their needs may be unmet. Furthermore, there is a lack of collaborative care that might enhance identification as well as offer services and support for COPMI.

The project “The Village” seeks to improve child development and wellbeing outcomes for children of parents with a diagnosed mental illness. This will be achieved through the co-development, implementation and evaluation of an approach to collaborative practice concerned with the identification of COPMI, and with establishing child-focused support networks. This will be done in the Austrian region Tyrol over the period of four years (2018-2022).

The research project aims to directly improve identification and support of vulnerable children across selected regions in Austria, and by doing so, improve the health and wellbeing of future Austrian generations, while breaking the cycle of intergenerational transfer of adverse childhood experiences. The research findings will also be relevant for healthcare providers and policy makers in other countries, and the international research community.

Village: find out more

a. The process

Digital Health Ideas Lab

Digital health meets societal needs: focusing on the challenge to transform health systems into a patient-centred world.

The Ideas Lab “Digital Health Meets Social Needs” focused on the challenge “Transforming Health Systems into a Patient-Centred World”. The Ideas Lab took place near Vienna, Austria, from February 17 – 22, 2019, and was facilitated by Knowinnovation.


It served as a catalyst to help scientists from various disciplines to generate research concepts for two separate, seven-year-funded, interdisciplinary Ludwig Boltzmann Institutes for Digital Health with an emphasis on:

  1. Increasing Patient Participation during Diagnosis, Acute and Life-Long Therapy: How to support positive health behaviour for cardiovascular disease patients in a sustainable way?
    A big part of the entire cardiovascular disease burden of the population is related to a range of unhealthy behavioural risk factors (i.e. unhealthy dietary habits, smoking, physical inactivity). Whereas prevention and rehabilitation programmes lead to meaningful short-term effects, long-term effects are rather disappointing and thus patients’ health is not preserved in a sustainable manner. Mechanisms (i.e. motivation, incentives, etc.) behind healthy behaviour and ways in which digital tools can impact secondary prevention in a sustainable way have yet to be discovered. New ways are needed to involve patients in this process to increase the efficacy of intervention programmes. To this end, the healthcare system needs to be more open to increased involvement from the patients’ side.
  2. Securing and Enhancing the Quality of Health Services and Patient Safety: How to provide digital solutions in health ecosystems, i.e. patients, families, and providers, to deal with patient-safety issues and health literacy in a patient-centric way?
    People are becoming increasingly informed about their health. Nonetheless, in order to guarantee patient safety, healthcare professionals need to be trained to address uncertainty among patients and caregivers about complexity, probability, and ambiguity throughout the patient journey. Many of the preventable complications could be avoided using digital solutions to support caregivers and patients by monitoring and optimising treatment strategies in the patient journey. With more efficient knowledge transfer, patients and care givers can be empowered. This requires deep, two-way communication between healthcare professionals and patients, leading to shared and data-assisted decision-making. Additionally, this decision-making can be further supported by personalised recommendations from the available general data. To achieve this, traditional hierarchies have to be modified and patients need to take centre stage amongst the other stakeholders.

Assessment Criteria

Those research concepts have been supported that demonstrate:

  • Novel, highly multidisciplinary research plans, clearly reflecting the distinctive opportunity for creating such plans that the Ideas Lab provides.
  • Clear evidence that the research team has the capability to deliver their project as a high-quality multidisciplinary activity, provided both through the presentation of their joint proposal and their activity during the Ideas Lab.
  • Clear relevance to and the potential to make a distinctive and novel contribution towards addressing the research challenges in this area.
  • Readiness to include Open Innovation in Science approaches in the proposed research.
  • The feasibility of the project and its potential societal impact.

Ludwig Boltzmann Institutes for Digital Health

As a result of the Digital Health Ideas Lab, two new Ludwig Boltzmann Institutes have been established in 2019. The new interdisciplinary institutes work closely with key stakeholders such as patients’ organisations, professional associations, user crowds, etc.

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute (LBI) for Digital Health and Prevention has been established at the University Institute for Sports Medicine at the University Hospital Salzburg under the scientific direction of Prim. Univ. Prof. Dr. Dr. Josef Niebauer, MBA, to help patients as well as healthy individuals to achieve sustainable lifestyle changes, in particularly related to Cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is the most common cause of death in Austria and worldwide and induces significant burden on individual, societal, and economic levels. The institute’s goal is to support CVD patients and healthy individuals in making long-term, sustainable, efficient and effective health-promoting lifestyle changes using new digital technologies.

LBI for Digital Health and Prevention

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute (LBI) for Digital Health and Patient Safety has been established at the Medical University of Vienna with Prof. Harald Willschke as Institute Director to work on various aspects of patient safety and digitalization in healthcare. The institute develops and implements digital solutions that improve patient safety by empowering patients and health professionals and supporting decision making. The researchers use Open Innovation in Science to work in interdisciplinary teams and involve all relevant stakeholders, such as patients, their families, health care professionals and the public.

LBI for Digital Health and Patient Safety