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Students want to fill empty spaces with great ideas


Lock yourself in a room for 24 hours and come out with a successful idea on how to use empty premises. That was the ambition of four Malmö University students whose project Co.Malmö took the first prize at the 2016 Malmö Climathon.

The Climathon is a 24-hour long global event aiming to highlight sustainability. Carried out simultaneously in different cities around the world, the event gathered local organisations and businesses which presented three different real-life challenges for the contestants to work with. 

The winning project, Co.Malmö, was a collaboration between Malmö University students Malin Eckel, Sara Lee Wolfe, Grace Uribe, Sofia Khadiri, all studying Leadership for Sustainability and Ricardo Taxa, an electrical engineer from Porto University in Portugal.

Students winning the climathon

“We picked a challenge presented by real estate company MKB, which in a sustainable way wants to put empty premises into use. We wanted to use these spaces and at the same time save energy. We did manage to think about this from the three aspects of sustainability – social, economic and environmental –  with a sense of social dynamics and co-working. That was the root of the name of the project, Co.Malmö, it’s about co-learning, co-living, co-working and cooperation,” Grace explained.

Inspired by Malmö

Co.Malmö is described as a digital network that enables users in the community to rent premises in their area and, paying either with time or money, create room for shopping, entertainment and education. Using an app, users can see what’s going on in their area and attend or organise activities.

“An aspect that I really liked was the fact that we got to know the city a lot better. These challenges are here in Malmö, and all of us just moved here. We didn’t know what the city is challenged by. That was very cool, to get a chance to talk to the people who were from Malmö, the municipality and different organisations, and see how they approached people to overcome challenges.

“In class, we are looking at the broad perspective. These kinds of events bring you closer to the city and let you try your skills out,” said Malin.

“The Climathon was like a small Malmö. People from different nationalities and different backgrounds gathered to take part. This was a wonderful opportunity to get to know Swedish ways of doing things,” said Sofia Khadiri.

"An amazing experience"

The prize, five sessions of business consulting and development, as well as a chance to sit down with MKB, was a great opportunity, but not necessarily the motivation.

“Our main goal was to learn from each other and practice what we learned from our master’s in the field. We didn’t go into this in hopes of winning; we wanted to learn from the experience. And that we did,” said Sara Lee Wolfe.

“Taking part was an amazing experience, for me this was one of the reasons why I chose Malmö, how alive this city is and how practical you can be with that social commitment,” she added.

The event is carried out once a year, and is open to everyone even if you are not studying sustainability.

“One of the major things we learned was teamwork. How to listen to each other, how to respect each other. That’s what everyone needs in the work environment today. They are going to ask you: can you work in teams? Can you prove it? We can prove it! I would absolutely recommend this to others,” said Sara Lee Wolfe.

Text: Amanda Malmquist

Last updated by Pia Pettersson Blank