Finding innovative solutions to local climate protection challenges - that was the objective of the "Climathon" held in 113 cities on six continents on 26 and 27 October. In this year Wuppertal was part of it for the first time. The organisers were the University of Wuppertal, the Neue Effizienz, CLimate-KIC, and the Wuppertal Institute.
The Climathon is a 24-hour marathon of ideas to develop innovative solutions for local climate change challenges in cities. Over 50 interested participants from business, politics, society and research attended the first Climathon in Wuppertal and worked in teams on relevant climate challenges. In addition, a large number of actors from the region, including small and large companies, start-ups and start-up funding, were involved as speakers, challenge providers, coaches, experts, partners and sponsors. Furthermore, international experts from Lund University in Schweden and a Swedish chemical company offered support for the participants.
The place of action was the "Freiraum" – the new innovation laboratory of the University of Wuppertal – a project of the "Jackstädtzentrum für Unternehmertums- und Innovationsforschung" (Jack City Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research) in the Arrenberg district of Wuppertal. Within 24 hours, the teams developed practical solutions to one of three Wuppertal climate protection questions: The first challenge dealt with sustainable packaging and climate-neutral logistics for food production in the city. The second challenge dealt with the very topical issue of preparation for future heavy rainfall events and floods in Wuppertal. For the third challenge, new ideas for the use of parking space in the city were sought. In addition to time for the joint development of ideas in teams, the Climathon offered a varied programme of expert contributions and workshops. During the 24 hours, professional coaches and experts in finding and developing ideas supported the participants. At the end of the event, a top-class jury selected three winning teams from a total of seven proposed solutions.
Winner of the Climathon in Wuppertal
Prof. Dr. Christine Volkmann, head of the chair for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development and holder of the UNESCO Chair for Entrepreneurship and Intercultural Management at the University of Wuppertal, took over the award ceremony. She congratulated the three teams with the best ideas. These included "Low-Fish-Stick" – an innovative concept for the direct marketing of fish with the participation of citizens in urban food production. In addition, the "Survival of the fishest" team was awarded for its new educational concept for fish production on Arrenberg and the "Unipacks" team for its recyclable and hygienic transport box made of processed food waste. The winning teams will receive individual start-up coaching and the opportunity to work on the further development of their ideas in one of three co-working spaces in the region.
The Climathon not only creates the space for innovative idea development, but also promotes the further development and implementation of promising ideas in the region. The participants were sensitised to the challenges of the region and were given the necessary tools and expertise to develop practical solutions and thus support Wuppertal in its climate-friendly urban development. The ideas will be taken up again at a follow-up meeting in November, where the winning teams will discuss concrete further development and implementation together with practical partners and start-up experts. The aim is to pick up on the motivation created at the Climathon Wuppertal and anchor it in the region in a sustainable way.
Dr. Justus von Geibler, project co-ordinator at the Wuppertal Institute and co-organizer of the event, assessed the Climathon as follows: "The Climathon was a great success. The participants collaborated effectively in the co-creation process with support of the regional and international experts and the coaches. Open innovation, more creativity and more entrepreneurial spirit is needed to find solutions for the great societal challenges and to initiate the necessary transformation processes for the well-being of future generations".
Jochen Stiebel, Managing Director of the Neue Effizienz – Bergische Gesellschaft für Ressourceneffizienz, who moderated the 24-hour event, said: "I am excited about the engagement of the participants and the innovative event format. The open format complements our diverse start-up and educational activities on climate protection and resource conservation in our region." In his closing remarks, he announced a second Climathon in Wuppertal for next year.
The first Climathon in Wuppertal owes its successful implementation to the commitment of its local partners and supporters, including the Jackstädtzentrum für Unternehmertums- und Innovationsforschung, the EnergyAgency.NRW, the City of Wuppertal and AWG Abfallwirtschaftsgesellschaft mbH Wuppertal. The Wuppertal Institute and Lund University supported the Climathon within the Flagship project eCircular" funded by the EIT Climate-KIC.