Living Labs 2023 Kick-off

Contributions by Laura Hohoff, Martin Petersen, Louisa Jatzwauk

At the beginning of March all the entrepreneurs and Urban Shift partners met in Vienna for an intense 5-day workshop. Students from WU, IAAC, WIFI, and HdM, have been presented with some of the greatest urban challenges – Urban Heat Islands and Food Waste – and have been empowered to think about how to solve them.
This was the first opportunity for the entrepreneurs from the different institutions to meet in-person and form transdisciplinary start-up teams. The five days not only consisted of a lot of work, stepping out of one’s comfort zone and learning many new things, but also connecting with like-minded people to find solutions for the cities of tomorrow. They took part in team building, heard from success stories (and the many failures in between) of an entrepreneurial journey, shared their knowledge from different disciplines, engaged with experts in the field of sustainable business and design, and pitched their first ideas! 

The five days were structured using the double diamond DT methodology which allowed start-up teams to identify numerous problems, define the problem they want to tackle, validate their ideas and develop their initial solutions. The goal was not to have the final solution resolved, but rather to go through the process of ideation, end-user validation and constant iteration. This process will continue in the next phase.  

Take a closer look at the very first startup team names and ideas*: 

Sustainable Stale – Let’s take that bread:  
Start-up that aims to reconvert bread that has not been sold to create vegetable protein products. They are also studying the possibility to design by-products from food waste such as furniture or decorative items. 

Whata shroom :  
Start-up that aims to reconvert the waste of eggshells into biomaterials, addressing the egg shell waste in food production of foods like pasta. 

App that allows the consumer to buy food from supermarkets that is about to expire by presenting recipes that can be elaborated with those products. When the consumer buys a set of products from a recipe the app sends a message to the supermarket and the supermarket prepares the box with the different products for the consumer. 

Green walls to refresh interiors through the technique of passive cooling.

Urban green living: 
App that allows you to know what type of plants will live best on your balcony depending on its characteristics (orientation, location, etc.). The application, in addition to recommending the types of plants, sells them and also the smart pots. 

Start-up that develops sustainable, modular outdoor cork tile systems designed to mitigate the urban heat island effect, reduce joint stress, and adapt to various outdoor applications while complying with EU regulations. 

Sale and installation of curtains that incorporate solar cells and capture energy from the sun. 

*changes will occur, as the startups are encouraged to pivot on their initial idea. 
What happens next: 
Over the upcoming months, the entrepreneurs will work together across borders to further develop their start-up ideas, with the support of trainers and experts. The trainers and experts will encourage and support the startups to engage with potential partners, end-users and customers while developing their solution to ensure a product-market fit. 

The programme will culminate in a trip to Barcelona where the start-ups will not only pitch their start-ups in front of a jury but also finalize their first prototypes. More information about the development of the start-ups will follow in the coming months. 

To summarize the experience of the Urban Shift Kick-Off: New cross border friendships were formed, New innovative ideas were generated, and an immense amount of knowledge was transferred! 

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