Pioneering the way digital innovations are integrated into product engineering, an inventive methodology in the field of Product/Digital-Platform-Business CoDesign stands poised to transform industry norms. The SPDS – Smart Platform Design Sprint, created by forward-thinking researchers, heralds a new era of collaboration between physical product engineering in the form of mechatronic systems and digital platform business models in the model of SGE – System Generation Engineering. SGE describes the development of systems in generations, where the development of systems occurs on a subsystem level. The new development of subsystems occurs through attribute variation (AV) and principle variation (PV), whereas the adaptation takes place through carryover variation (CV). The SPDS doesn’t merely add digital features as an afterthought but strategically integrates them from the outset. Designed to streamline the product engineering process, the SPDS resonates with the dynamic demands of today’s digital business landscape. It acts as a bridge, connecting the concrete world of product engineering with the ever-present digital sphere. Stepping into this new era, the SPDS unveils a future where crafting products and digital platforms lead to innovation, efficiency, and a focus on user needs.

Bridging visionary thinking with practical application, a detailed investigation by a team of specialists turns this concept into a tangible reality. This groundbreaking approach was, thoroughly validated and outlined in a study by Patrick Brecht, Sandra Keller, Dr.-Ing. Manuel Niever, Prof. Dr. Carsten Hahn, Felix Pfaff, and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. h.c. Albert Albers from Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HKA) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). It presents a structured and effective method for crafting digital platforms. The insights from this study are shared in the journal Procedia CIRP.

Patrick Brecht, the primary researcher, explains the essence of the SPDS: “The SPDS is a tool for jointly creating product and digital platform business models, bridging the physical product world with the digital platform.” He further clarifies its comprehensive nature, incorporating specialized design tools and collective expertise.

Emphasizing the methodology’s advantages, Brecht highlights, “Our approach guarantees consideration of the user’s perspective right from the start. It’s about forging a real customer experience for the platform, concentrating on user interaction and value creation.” This focus on the user spurs a culture of innovation, shortens discussion cycles, and tackles complex challenges, ultimately decreasing risks and saving time and resources.

Nevertheless, the SPDS faces its own set of challenges. It requires a strong foundation in methodological skills, process understanding, and with efficient leadership and guidance during the sprint phase. Successfully addressing these challenges is essential for the SPDS to thrive in a corporate environment.

Concluding the study, the research team suggests more practical applications of the SPDS are needed to confirm its adaptability and effectiveness in various settings. Customizing the methodology to meet specific industry requirements and refining it based on real-world feedback and results will increase its utility. In summary, the SPDS – Smart Platform Design Sprint offers a promising strategy for developing digital platform business models within the model of SGE -System Generation Engineering. Its potential to revolutionize product engineering processes makes it an invaluable tool for companies navigating the complexities of today’s digital age.


Brecht, Patrick & Keller, Sandra & Niever, Manuel & Hahn, Carsten & Pfaff, Felix & Albers, Albert. (2023). Product Digital-Platform-Business Co-Design: A Systematic Sprint Approach. Procedia CIRP. 119. 495-500. DOI:


Patrick Brecht started working as a research group leader of [x]Lab at the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAF) at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences after he completed his study in industrial engineering. As a research associate he focuses on innovation processes, methods, and digital platform business model development. For his doctoral research at IPEK – Institute of Product Engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), he works in the research group Design Methods and Design Management. Within his work, he develops a method to develop digital B2B Platform Business Models in the model of SGE – System Generation Engineering.

Sandra Keller was working as a research assistent of [x]Lab at the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAF) at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences after she completed her study in international management, specializing in digitalization. Her research focused on the validation and further development of digital platform business models. Building on her academic foundation Sandra has gained practical experience in strategic purchasing, project management and event management.

Manuel Niever  holds a doctor degree in mechanical engineering. In his work he supports companies in shaping a holistic business transformation towards a digital, sustainable and people-centered future. As Senior Digital Transformation Manager at esentri AG, his focus is on strategy development, innovation processes, business model development and transformation management.

Felix Pfaff  was a research associate at the IPEK – Institute of Product Engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) with a focus on innovation processes and methods after he completed his study in mechanical engineering in 2020. He has been working as a research group leader of the research group Design Methods and Design Management since 2022. Within his work, he analyses the evolution of mechatronic systems with the model of SGE – System Generation Engineering to gain insights into the relationships between innovation success, changing contextual factors and variation activities.

Carsten H. Hahn is a director of research and innovation at SAP and additionally holds a professorship for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences. After studying business informatics at the University of Mannheim and doing his doctorate in Marketing at University Mainz, he began his career as an assistant to the executive board of SAP. Carsten serves as a visiting lecturer at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In his academic work, he founded the [x]Lab, which deals with entrepreneurship and innovation concepts in research, teaching, and practical application.

Albert Albers has been Professor and Head of IPEK – Institute of Product Engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) since 1996. Before Prof. Albers started his position in Karlsruhe he served as Head of the Development Department and as deputy member of the Executive Board. He is a founding member and chairman of the Scientific Association for Product Engineering (WiGeP) and a member of the National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech). Along with his commitment to the Association of German Engineers, he serves on Advisory Boards of a number of companies. Prof. Albers’ fundamental research philosophy is the simultaneous research on methods and processes of product engineering combined with the research on synthesis and validation of new technical systems whilst taking into account the significant role of the engineer within the product development process. Only this combination of research on systems, methods and processes enables a validation of the new development methods and processes immediately during projects of system research.