For the internal collaboration within the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) we established a web platform based on the open source software Liferay. The researchers can use this platform to share their ideas, to discuss and to store their results. Basic functionalities like a shared calendar, message boards and contact lists allow the researchers to communicate and coordinate. Additionally, advanced services like video conferencing and online surveys complement the portfolio. For better coordination of work packages a task management system was implemented which is closely linked to the message boards of the platform. Through this connection researchers can track how the tasks emerged and discuss unclear aspects when necessary. The project managers can use this task management system to control the progress of the project. On a so called “market place” researchers of the CRC can trade their “needs” and “haves” by writing short descriptions of things they need for their research or things they can provide other partners with. Those “needs” and “haves” will be matched then according to their categories and allows the researchers to easily identify potential collaboration partners. For training and motivation we introduced a blended learning concept that includes live trainings, webinars, video-casts, manuals and wikis (Fig. 1).
Apart from the intranet area the web platform also provides a public website, where the researchers can share their work and result with the public audience. There, visitors can find the latest information about CRC activities as well as press releases, research programs and also a rising number of interactive elements that should help to make sustainability more comprehensible. One of these elements is a simply game involving a product configurator for a pedelec (Fig. 2). In this game the user is put in the role of a product developer so that he or she can gather first-hand experience on what sustainable product development means and which consequences design decisions may have. The aspect of involving public audience to shape the research activities is one of the main focuses of the further research approach of the INF project.