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!

CloudMade (United Kingdom)

With 6 locations globally, CloudMade leverages cutting edge artificial intelligence to revolutionise the automotive industry. Their focus is on processing data to optimise and personalise the driving experience of the future. 


High-Mobility (Germany)

High-Mobility builds a data platform for applications working with personalised car data. Users can test their applications in a simulation environment, and get verified to access data from multiple car makers using a standardised connected car API.


Kiwi Last Mile (Spain)

Using a new multi-modal delivery platform, Kiwi offers an efficient, profitable and sustainable last mile delivery solution. Kiwi operates its own fleet, basing its operations in a new ‘cellular delivery model’. It has dubbed itself the ‘future of the last mile’! (Germany)

BRIVE reduces fleet and vehicle costs by rewarding good driving behavior. Better driving translates into savings on fleet costs and higher salary bonuses for drivers. It already comes with a BRIVE credit card!


German Autolabs (Germany)

The Automotive Voice Assistance platform from German Autolabs is a customisable conversational assistance solution for mobility. German Autolabs leverages deep domain knowledge; bypassing lengthy development cycles to build groundbreaking voice products.

Autofleet (Israel)

The Autofleet platform enables the transformation of fleet managers to vehicle-as-a-service providers. It innovates fleet management, using machine learning to predict demand, price dynamically, automate in-/de-fleeting, and optimise demand-supply matching in real-time.

Neohelden (Germany)

Neohelden is developing a digital AI-assistant for enterprise use-cases. You can think of it as Alexa, but for business. Users can customise the Neo platform intuitively via Drag & Drop, to tailor the AI-assistant to any possible needs.

Parkbob (Austria)

Parkbob organises the world's parking related data, and transforms it into actionable information for better mobility decisions. By creating a dynamic demand prediction model, it provides customers with an end to end solution that increases fleet utilisation and revenue.

VISCOPIC (Germany)

VISCOPIC leads in 3D data processing and worker guidance solutions, focusing on 3D sensing technology and augmented reality. It aims to guide companies into the future by showing them what technologies they need in order to be optimally efficient and productive.

Transmetrics (Bulgaria)

Transmetrics delivers predictive optimisation software for the logistics industry. Designed for express, parcel, pallet, and groupage businesses, the AI-driven software forecasts customer demand to calculate the most efficient linehaul plan for the entire transport network.

Have any of these brilliant ideas made you curious about the challenge? Follow us on LinkedIn for updates on the competition!

To be honest, I sort of fell into it. I was always working somewhere between content marketing and the music industry and around seven years ago a friend of a friend was searching for someone to help him curating music for his boutique surf spot on the beach in Costa Rica. The owner was a big music fan, but he just didn't have time to keep all the music up-to-date. So I got introduced to him, we shared similar tastes, and agreed that I would do the music for his space - curating it and updating it with new music on a regular basis.

This for me was a dream come true. I could finally work with music all day, and at the same time, I could help create an awesome experience for the guests. I saw people's reactions when they heard a song they liked. I saw them dancing, getting a little closer to each other at the bar and that for me was really rewarding.

This was the moment when I realized that there is something special about this idea and I got interested if there is actually market out there. I did some market research, and a lot of interviews with different hoteliers people in the industry trying to get more feedback. And the idea started growing more and more. 

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound



Interesting is the story of the last years winner in the category “Creative”. Hamburg based headraft literally took music experience to the next level by creating the world’s first AR Music Video for the German band “die Fantastischen Vier”. Designed for their song “Tunnel”, the cited app unfolds a virtual story world once the track starts playing, giving fans the opportunity to go on an interactive journey with the band rather than being a passive viewer. 

Applications are now open! Finalists will be awaited by a curious jury of five leading industry experts. Among others, Kathleen Cohen who was already taking part in the first year will be in the panel of judges again. With a 25-year multiplatform career history under her belt, she is one of the most regarded in the field. As a digital experience expert, she has successfully implemented projects for DreamWorks Interactive and IBM Innovation, to name a few.

Needless to say, the yearly AUREA Award is definitely the place to be. Apply and become a member of the community bringing together all the promising products and solutions in the AR/VR sector.

Photo by AUREA Award

OKAY BUT HOW IS BESPOKE SOUND DIFFERENT THAN PLAYING MY "DISCOVER WEEKLY’’ OR ANY OTHER AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED PLAYLIST ?

Well, both. Currently we offer the following two options: shorter publicly available Brand Playlists and long-form private Soundtracks for spaces. For both of them we work closely with the client to understand how sound fits into their brand DNA and what their audience is like.

We believe that the guests’ experience with a particular space doesn’t have to begin and end with their stay. The idea of the Brand Playlist is to be a public brand playlists designed to engage the customers before, during, and after their visit at a space. It’s always accessible for them and serves as a new, dynamic marketing channel.

The Soundtrack is slightly different. It takes sometimes up to weeks of work and is designed by a world-class artist, DJ, or tastemaker. For it we first work with you to develop a deep understanding of your business and style. Then we match you with the perfect artist, DJ, or tastemaker to create unique, always fresh playlists, custom tailored to match your brand. 

In both cases, we update them regularly based on guest habits and clients’ needs. 

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound



The way we engage with the music community is something really important for us and honestly, what makes us different than other background music providers. A lot of the background music providers out there have internal teams of maybe five or six DJs that do all of the music for their clients. We aim to connect with the local scene and always work with local DJs. There's some kind of magic in finding the exact right artists for the brand.

And on the flip side of it, when we hire artists, we make sure that the project is also inspiring for them and that they would be interested in participating. We always make sure to pay them well. The whole project creates for them a new income stream that they wouldn't have otherwise.

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound

Yes! This was really fun. The objective with the betahaus "betabeer sounds" playlist was to showcase the community side of betahaus. There are so many cool, interesting people in the betahaus community and we thought a playlist could be a perfect way to not only help bring the community together but also show the diverse funkiness of the communities of Berlin and Neukölln, which is why Hazy Pockets, a longtime local Berlin DJ known for his eclectic mixes, was perfect for this project.

This playlist moves from bluesy 60s rock into surf and tropicalia, picking up momentum into Motown and onwards through some laid back disco tunes. Perfect for the betabeer events betahaus hosts monthly!


YOU’RE CURRENTLY ENJOYING THE SUN FAR FROM BERLIN. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES in berlin that YOU MISS THE MOST?

Oh, there are just so many! Like the Imren Grill for instance where you can find the best homemade Turkish food or Das Gift and Gordon which are both run by great music people. Kohelenquelle in Prenzleuer Berg is my favorite local bar (or rather kneipe). To satisfy my  techno / electronic records needs I always go to Hard Wax and one of my most special places is the Zions Kirche steeple, which has an awesome view of the city and a great Weinerei close by. 


You can see me around betahaus. Online, you can always check out my website and listen to our public playlists on Spotify. We’re also currently working on a collaboration with betahaus, so a special Playlist curated by is will very soon sound around the spaces in Kreuzberg and Neukölln. 

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