protoTYPE – Have you got what it takes to be an innovator?

The Forum Zukunft (Future Forum) is the engine for change and experimental laboratory of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association and the companies of the Börsenverein group.

In the past years, we have started numerous initiatives that aim to discover and highlight new possibilities for the publishing sector. Specifically, we are interested in the changes brought along by digitalization and Web 2.0. But not only the themes of our work are innovative – the formats we choose for our projects and events are innovative, too. Collaboration and exchange of ideas is a core principle of our work, and protoTYPE is a great example of this.


So what is protoTYPE ?

protoTYPE is a project in which experienced mentors guide young innovators through the process of conceptualizing a new product or service for the publishing industry. protoTYPE runs over the course of several months. The format was launched in 2012 and will take place in 2015 for the fourth time in a row.

We think that innovation projects are crucial for the book industry in times of change. By bringing together young talents with skills from different fields (e.g. production, IT, marketing), we encourage exchange and uninhibited thinking. The created “protoTYPES” are services and products that will benefit the book trade.

In 2015, up to 30 hand-picked participants will form teams that each develop a proTYPE. Each team is supported by an experienced mentor.

We are very pleased to announce that our amazingly competent and committed mentors team of 2014 will continue their work in 2015:

Miriam Hofheinz (Bookwire), Dr. Harald Henzler (smart digits), Prof. Dr. Okke Schlüter (Stuttgart Media University) and Volker Oppmann (LOG.OS)

A key skill that we aim to teach our participants is to think like entrepreneurs and to move quickly from the first rough draft into the phase of implementation and continuous improvement. We want to attract those individuals that like to think ahead and out of the box.

The teams will work on their ideas by applying the design thinking method, which is particularly well-suited for customer-oriented innovation projects.


Registration and schedule

In 2015, registration is open from January 14th to February 4th 2015 via the project’s website The registration form will be adapted for 2015 soon.

The successful applicants are invited to the kick-off workshop at the Leipzig book fair on March 14th and 15th 2015. Here, ideas for protoTYPEs will be collected and evaluated in a next step, so that only the best ones will be pursued further. Teams are formed according to the participants’ individual skills – we aim for a balanced combination of IT wizards, passionate communicators etc.

Next, a work-in-progress meeting of all groups takes place in Frankfurt on May 8th and 9th 2015.

The outcome of each protoTYPE-group’s work will be presented at the Buchtage Berlin on June 17th and 18th 2015. This is the final phase of the project. Nevertheless, the teams will also have the opportunity to present their newly developed concepts, services and products at the Frankfurt book fair and other industry events in the autumn of 2015.


What can participants gain from this experience?

protoTYPE is a unique opportunity to experience an innovation process from beginning to end. Team-building, team work and effective project management are central elements, and so is the act of making innovations visible and understandable by presenting them in front of professional audiences.

Most publishing professionals work in a specific field. When they are part of a project within their company, they are usually responsible for a clearly defined, small part of the undertaking and hardly ever get a chance to follow the whole process.

protoTYPE is different, and that’s why it has great benefits for the participants themselves as well as the companies that encourage their employees to participate.

protoTYPE offers new methods, inspiration, networking, expert advice and – last but not least – a professional check-up regarding the feasibility of new ideas. These are the tools that the publishing professionals of the future need. And participants will even get a certificate.

We would love it if you spread the word about this great project. For questions and feedback, feel free to contact us at