Lithuanian Students Propose an Environmentally Friendly, Autonomous Mobile Office on a Trolleybus

The International Innovation Week in Vilnius brought together more than 120 students who care about climate change. For 2 days, the young people worked on a complex challenge posed by a start-up: how to create an eco-friendly and autonomous mobile office? “The result of this week will have an impact not only on a specific business, but also on Lithuania as a whole,” the organisers are pleased.

Innovation is key to adapting to climate change

20-24 November 2023 Vilnius College of Technologies and Design (VTDK) hosted a series of events called “Innovation Week”, during which the entire college community – lecturers, students, staff and partners – actively engaged in creating a positive impact on the environment. This series of events took place simultaneously not only in Lithuania, but also in four other countries – Finland, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

“During these days, students had the opportunity to get a closer look at climate challenges, idea generation methods, presentation opportunities, and to consult with mentors and experts. Innovation is apparently the only way to adapt to climate change, so the aim of this week is to encourage active involvement in developing innovative solutions for the environment – we certainly have the skills to do so!” – says Vaiva Mickevičienė, the organiser of the Innovation Week and a lecturer at VTDK.

Mobile office is proposed to be installed on a trolleybus

The International Innovation Week culminated in a student hackathon where young people created innovative, climate-neutral solutions. During the hackathon, the young architectural design company UAB Madhauz, a start-up, challenged the students to create a concept for a mobile office that is completely environmentally neutral and autonomous from centralised engineering networks, and that is able to fully meet its needs. 14 student teams tackled the challenge, considering which engineering systems, identity, interior solutions and materials to choose, and how to apply circular economy and sustainability trends.

The hackathon was won by a team of seven future engineering professionals. The winning idea came unexpectedly for the students – while riding an old Vilnius trolleybus and being late for college because of the snow that had flooded the city. The winning solution: a mobile office on a trolleybus! “The old Vilnius trolleybuses seemed like a strange solution, but as soon as it was proposed we started discussing it and there was no turning back. A second-hand trolleybus frame would reduce the need for non-recycled materials and protect the environment from over 10,000 kg of rubbish. We proposed using recycled cellulose insulation materials, which are made from 100% recycled fibres, and the interior fittings and finishes could be as recycled as the company’s finances and the availability of such materials in Lithuania would allow,” says Šarūnas Savickas, a member of one of the winning teams.

“The winners have done really well, I’m pleased with how professionally the students have worked, and the result is really scalable,” says Ježy Daveiko, head of the start-up UAB Madhauz, smiling. The entrepreneur adds that he would be happy to work on the idea for a few more days together with the best performing teams. He says that by improving and optimizing the idea, a truly effective solution could be created.

Young people care about climate change

The young people share that they participated in this event for a reason – they care deeply about sustainability.

“It is hard to avoid this topic, as our field of study involves adapting buildings to the current climate conditions and comfort. Also, the average global temperature has risen by 1.5 C° compared to pre-industrial times. Until recently, this seemed like an avoidable threshold beyond which there would be no turning back. It is clear that the future will be very different from the current reality, and every tenth of a degree will have major consequences,” emphasises Šarūnas.

“We are delighted that so many students took part in the hackathon! We hope that in the future the number of competitors and teams will increase and even more innovative and sustainable solutions related to the environment and climate change will be discovered,” says Paulius Vitkauskas, one of the winning team members. The student is excited about the new experience and the opportunity to test his engineering skills as a team.

5 countries come together to tackle the challenges of climate change

“Innovation Week is one of the activities of the Innovation Laboratories for Climate Actions (ILCA) project. This year’s event was unique in that it took place simultaneously in all ILCA partner institutions – Finland, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Lithuania.

“This project brings together many stakeholders. Together with our partners, we are building a climate change ecosystem and finding solutions to the challenges of climate change. I believe that the outcome of this week will create a positive impact not only for specific businesses, but also for Lithuania as a whole,” says Joana Lapkovskaja, Head of International Relations and Project Management Department at the VTDK.

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