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Christoph Fahle
February 1, 2012

Rising to the Challenge: Great Challenges Berlin (January 16-18, 2012)

How can we curb the rampant waste of food and consumer goods in the developed world? How can we ensure equal and open access to digital and mobile networks throughout the world, as these take on an increasingly central role in people’s lives? How can a small group of individuals, through simple collaboration, find solutions to problems previously deemed unsolvable by many?

How can we facilitate access to sustainable sources of energy for individual consumers? How can we curb the rampant waste of food and consumer goods in the developed world? How can we ensure equal and open access to digital and mobile networks throughout the world, as these take on an increasingly central role in people’s lives? How can a small group of individuals, through simple collaboration, find solutions to problems previously deemed unsolvable by many?

These are some of the greatest challenges faced not only by businesses of all sizes, but by individuals and by society as a whole, in the present day. On January 16, the Stockholm University subsidiary SU Innovation brought a group of students, academics, and entrepreneurs to betahaus for Great Challenges Berlin, where the group spent three days exploring these different challenges, as well as the ways in which they could be faced. During these three days, participants were invited to present their own ideas and strategies while getting to know the many examples of individuals, startups, and advocacy organisations facing these challenges in the city of Berlin.

The conference began with a series of presentations by entrepreneurs and thinkers from Berlin and from around Sweden, each one presenting their own solutions to different challenges. Speakers, from companies such as Jovoto, Doonited, and SecondMuse, among others, discussed the many ways in which even small-scale initiatives, when carried out as a collaborative effort, can have a significant impact on the world.

Several more startups, many of them from across Sweden, then discussed their own innovative strategies for addressing the challenges of sustainable living and resource management. These strategies involved either directly providing sustainable products or services to consumers, or providing incentives for consumers and companies alike to make conscious choices. Participants learned about how goods and services; such as portable solar-powered chargers, regional grocery-delivery services that make use of as many locally-sourced products as possible, or a service that collects and donates leftover bread from bakeries to soup kitchens, can help overcome these challenges on a local or individual level. Meanwhile, companies such as Gadimu, Cryptango, and Pamoja Cleantech, presented similar strategies with a more global reach; such as information-security for industrial waste-management systems, or inexpensive, environmentally-friendly technology for rural communities in developing countries.

On the second day of the conference, participants were taken on a tour of Berlin, focusing on the city’s many different examples of innovative strategies for dealing with the challenges of today’s world. The tour began with a visit to nearby Impakt Social Labs, and continued on to various other projects and places in the city, ending with a light-hearted drink at the café and coworking space, St. Oberholz. Throughout the day, participants learned how Berlin came to be a European centre for culture and innovation, and continues to maintain that status today. The day concluded with a dinner at betahaus, held by Sandbox, an organisation which seeks to foster young talent across the world. The Sandbox dinner provided a relaxed environment, in which guests were encouraged to network and meet others by discussing their main fields of work or other topics that interested them.

The third day offered participants the chance to either experience the coworking environment of the betahaus, or to visit one of Berlin’s most successful green startups, Coffee Circle, which works to provide high-quality organic, direct-trade coffee from Ethiopia to customers in Germany and across Europe, and 6wunderkinder; another young, Berlin-based startup providing mobile apps with practical, everyday uses. The final official event of Great Challenges Berlin took the participants to the Swedish Embassy, where they were then able to participate in a round-table discussion on the role of impact investment in the future.Great Challenges Berlin provided both SU Innovation and betahaus Berlin with the opportunity to collaboratively discuss and explore the great challenges faced by all in the 21st century, as well as the new and innovative solutions that many companies and individuals continue to develop each day.

More upcoming events and announcements you can find in our beta calendar!

In addition to the betahaus locations, we've formed a close relationship with some of the world's best coworking spaces. With your betahaus membership, you can work from any of our partner spaces for 1 day per month.

Coworking Spaces in Europe

Republikken // Copenhagen, Denmark // Vesterbrogade 26, 1620 København V, Denmark

Le Laptop // Paris, France // 6 Rue Arthur Rozier, 75019 Paris, France

Le Laptop - Coworking Paris

utopic_US // Madrid, Spain // Calle de la Colegiata, 9, 28012 Madrid, Spain

utopic_US - Coworking Madrid

Nest 71 // Saravejo, Bosnia & Herzegovina // Milana Preloga 12, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Nest 71 - Coworking Bosnia & Herzegovina

  

Toolbox // Milan, Italy // Via Agostino da Montefeltro, 2, 10134 Torino, Italy

Edspace // London, England // Block D, Hackney Community College, Falkirk St, London, UK

Bios // Athens, Greece // Pireos 84, Athina 104 35, Greece

 

CoWorx // Kristiansand, Norway // Markens Gate 8, 4611 Kristiansand, Norway

CRU – Loja / Cowork // Porto, Portugal // Rua do Rosário 211, 4050-524 Porto, Portugal

SPARK // Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina // Bleiburških žrtava, Mostar 88000, Bosnia & Herzegovina

StartUp Armenia Foundation // Yerevan, Armenia // 0019, 1 Marshal Baghramyan Ave, Yerevan 0019, Armenia

Tøyen Startup Village // Oslo, Norway // Hagegata 23, 0653 Oslo, Norway

Tøyen Startup Village - Coworking Oslo

Smart Coworking // Prague, Czech Republic // Václavské nám. 806/62, 110 00 Nové Město, Czechia

Smart Coworking - Coworking Prague

Lighthouse // Tel Aviv, Israel // HaHaroshet 14-16 Ra'anana, Tel Aviv, Isreal

Lighthouse - Coworking Tel Aviv

Coworking Spaces in North America

Fueled // New York City, USA // 11, 568 Broadway, FL 11, New York, NY 10012, United States **Maximum 3 Days

  

Capital Factory // Austin, USA // 701 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701, United States

Público // Mexico City, Mexico // Puebla 403, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Coworking Spaces in South America

Area Tres // Buenos Aires, Argentina // El Salvador: El Salvador 5218, C1414BPV CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina // Soho: Malabia 1720, C1414DMJ CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Area Tres - Coworking Buenos Aires

 

HubBOG // Bogota, Colombia // Cl. 98 #18-71, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

HubBOG - Coworking Bogota

Coworking Spaces in Asia

CIT // Taipei, Taiwan // 10452, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongshan District, 玉門街1號

CIT - Coworking Taipe

 

Of10 // Mumbai, India // Prudential, Ground Floor, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400076, India

 

Kibar // Jakarta, Indonesia // Jl. Prof. Moh. Yamin No.1, RT.7/RW.5, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10310, Indonesia

Midori.so // Tokyo, Japan // Midori.so Nakameguro: 3 Chome-3-11 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tōkyō-to 153-0042, Japan // Midori.so Nagatacho: 2 Chome-5 Hirakawachō, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 102-0093 // Midori.so2: 3 Chome-13 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 107-0062, Japan

Midori.so - Coworking Tokyo

Launchgarage Innovation Hub // Manila, Philippines // Level 2, Industria Mall, Circulo Verde, Calle Industria, Bagumbayan, Quezon City, 1110 Metro Manila, Philippines

Coworking Spaces in Australia

Independent Studios // Melbourne, Australia // 39/40 Porter St, Prahran VIC 3181, Australia

Coworking Spaces in Africa

Urban Station EGYPT // Cairo, Egypt // 2 Wadi El Nil Mohandeseen, Cairo, Egypt

Urban Station EGYPT - Coworking Cairo

Nairobi Garage // Nairobi, Kenya // Nairobi Garage, The Mirage, Chiromo Rd, Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi Garage - Coworking Nairobi

 

BONUS: Cowork & Relax at the Coliving Space, Coconat // Brandenburg, Germany // Klein Glien 25 14806 Bad Belzig, Germany // Get €10 off your stay

 

Toni: Currently, we’ve somehow ended up in this niche of building a lot of internal tools for startups and teams. But this is not the only thing we want to do. What I like about it is that we’re starting projects from scratch and we have full control over them. 

Martin: The first project we worked on was a tool for a large scale real estate development company. What they needed was a tool for their Sales people - to be able to mark their different spots and locations at different stages of the sales funnel. So we created a tool that helps them in this process.

Toni: And this one actually served as a starting point for the tool we’ve developed for  betahaus, which aims to allow the Sales and Management team to see which team rooms are occupied right now, which ones are free or will be occupied in a few weeks or months, so no double bookings appear. 

Alex: These two projects were more focused on real estate, let’s say, but we’ve also done more design-heavy projects like the one we did for Artique which is an online artists agency. For them, we built a whole website and an online system to present their artists starting only from their logo. It had to be very flexible, because the artists needed to be able to edit their own profiles, putting their resume, changing colours.



Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different. 

Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally. 

Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.

Photo by Lea GK


Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.

Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte

Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.

Want to get in touch with Obst Digital? Come around betahaus | Neukölln and meet them here or send them an email to contact@obst.digital !

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