LOW-CARB CO-HOSTS HACKATHON & 5-DAY IDEA CHALLENGE TO TACKLE HOT TOPICS IN SZEGED

12.07.2019

Despite of the former low level of interest, LOW-CARB together with the young and innovative start-up companies GYEEK Club and SzegedBoost, as well as Szegedi Közlekedési Társaság (SZKT) i.e. Szeged Transport Ltd organised a hackathon on 29th March 2019 as part of the five-day event Idea Challenge. SZKT hosted a number of activities over the week to promote the city’s low carbon mobility plans.

Collage of images showing trolleybus depot, including image of people using the public bus to get to the depot.

Day 1 of SZKT’s participation showcased a site visit to their offices as well as the Szeged’s trolleybus depot, all of which were accessed using public transport of course. The tour informed participants of how the trolleybus vehicles are being deployed as part of Szeged’s public transport system to create the backbone of its low-carbon transport and mobility. 

People on a bus
People looking at a trolleybus that is being suspended by a jack
People standing in a circle outside an industrial building listening to man speaking to the whole group
A man is giving a powerpoint presentation that is being projected onto a white wall. A small AC can be seen to the left of the projection.

Day 2 included workshops that facilitated a number of discussions between participants on topics like design thinking and business modelling. These thought-provoking interactions inspired participants on how they can convert ideas into real business ventures to create social and financial value. Organisers created a relaxed atmosphere and did not control which or how problems were to be addressed. Instead, teams were encouraged to use their imagination and pool their creativeness to solve current problems in unique ways.

Zoltan Adam Nemeth, chief of public transport and railway safety at SZKT, held a presentation on the importance of public transport in the world of low-carbon mobility where he presented SZKT’s trolleybus development project in Szeged. He also discussed both the local and global challenges of public transport, the potential of electric mobility in cities, and the future competition between mobility services. 

A man gives a power presentation.
A young man raises his hand in the crowd to ask a  question
A man is giving a powerpoint presentation.

However, it was Day 3 when the real competition began. Eight teams pitched their innovative ideas and business models in dealing with social issues in Szeged. Topics ranged from job seeking solutions, to childcare services, and even attaining more patients for clinical medical research. However, it was Greencity that stood out the crowd as the only social enterprise without a primary focus on return of investments. They pitched an ambitious plan to work against local city pollution incurred from transport emissions. Greencity plans to introduce an App platform that maps current pollution from motorized traffic using real-time sensors in strategic locations. Based on this data, a journey planner would offer alternative routes and cleaner modes of travel to the user. Thus, their broad goal and key activities will begin with raising environmental awareness and education to encourage a larger usage of clean public transport offers in Szeged, such as the trolley busses. Greencity’s online platform will also provide the purchasing of PT tickets online, which is currently not yet available to further prompt modal shift to PT.

The hackathon of this venture produced positive results, given their similar priorities, goals, and problem-solving approaches. Greencity was able to identify and strengthen certain weaknesses in their business model with the aid of the other participants, to produce a strong venture proposal that creates multiple streams of value for their region and globally, beyond a mere financial gain. Greencity was awarded 300.000 HUF (approx. 1000 EUR) to further develop their proposal together with SZKT. 

Participants of the Idea Challenge happily pose for a group shot
Large audience listens to 4 people giving a presentation
Group of people with young man holding an award placard

Pictured from left: Greencity Team receiving their Idea Challenge award (Arnela Mujic (traffic and communications), Almin Selimovic and Benisa Bibuljica (state management), Faris Karic (International Business), Drilon Morina (civil engineering)), with SZKT representatives (Zoltán Ádám Németh and Andrea Kiss).