Axpo occupies Europaallee

How to fight wasting energy in cities? Not an easy question, but sometimes a change of perspective and a few fresh ideas can help to get a little closer to an answer. Axpo is a partner in the "InCube" project which starts today. (Follow us live on Instagram @axpogroup)

1 question - 5 students - 4 days in the middle of Zurich

Four days and nights give five students from ETH and MIT time to find a possible answer to the question of how to stop wasting energy in cities.
They are supported by experts from Axpo and can challenge their ideas directly with the public. As their workplace and their home for the next four days is a glass cube situated at Europaplatz in Zurich. Around 100,000 passers-by cross this square every day.

What means "wasting energy"?

Wasting energy in the city doesn't mean the multiple socket switched on during the holiday absence. At least not only. Wasting energy can be divided into three areas. On the one hand, of course, there is the question of how we can use the energy available to us more efficiently. At the same time, however, theoretically a lot of energy is produced in a city. In this way, the pressure that is triggered when climbing stairs up or down could be converted into electrical voltage. And finally, the question of storage: this summer, the sun's rays on the Europaallee meant that the site was no longer usable due to the high temperatures. Couldn't this heat perhaps be stored and converted into energy when needed? 

Are 5 students that are playing “BigBrother” the solution?

Anyone who has read this far will probably think: "That's all well and good, but why does it take inexperienced students sitting in a glass cube?”

Well, creativity and thus also innovation arise when already existing ideas, things or projects are brought together or reconsidered in a new way. Of course there is a bit more to it and there are several books on how innovation or creativity is created. But in essence we can continue to work with this assumption.

That's why it's so important for Axpo to work together with partners in the field of innovation and to take a step back in order to see the forest again despite all the trees or to confront existing knowledge with a new way of thinking.

What will happen in the coming days?

Tonight at 8 p.m. five students will move into the Cube on Europaallee and receive the assignment. Axpo colleagues explain the task and answer the first questions. In the run-up to the InCube project, the students have already learned techniques and procedures in the so-called OutCube in Crans-Montana that help them find solutions. They have attended various workshops on design thinking, rapid prototyping and business modeling.
In the coming days, they will have the opportunity to discuss with Axpo experts or to mirror their ideas directly with passers-by on site.

They must then present their solution approach at the closing event on 30 September - and compete against three other teams that have worked on other tasks. The evaluation will cover the path to finding a solution and, of course, the potential of the solution approach.

Follow the challenge live on Instagram @axpogroup


InCube is an international competition in which students live in a glass cube for four days. They are given a task, have to define a concrete problem they want to tackle, find solutions and create a prototype. During the closing event, the various teams will compete in a pitch battle in front of the audience and the jury. More information about the project:

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