More than 40 students from ECIU member universities have spent a few days in Val di Sole to solve two challenges proposed by companies and organisations from Trento region. Through the challenges, the students find creative solutions to real-life problems, and put their knowledge and skills to the test.
More than forty students from all over Europe have just spent a few days in Val di Sole, in Mezzana, for the ECIU University challenges, an activity that calls students to find solutions to real-life problems proposed by private companies and public entities. The language spoken, English, and the focused but informal attitude of the participants – from as far as Bangladesh, Iran, Belarus, Lithuania, India, Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Lebanon and, obviously, Italy – immersed the Trentino Social Tank of Mezzana in an international atmosphere, combined with the pleasure to meet face-to-face and to put to practice the lessons learned. The activities were hosted by the University of Trento (UniTrento) and were organized by its School of Innovation.
For people who work in city centres, the suburbs and valleys are not very appealing, as they are seen as dormitory areas for commuters, generating a small social and economic impact. But things are changing. The pandemic and technological progress encouraged remote work, and even small villages are lively again. More and more people are trying to combine working from home while living in a less polluted place, with less traffic and closer to nature. Co-working spaces in mountain villages and valleys, where people can work flexibly and remotely, stimulate the economy of these areas and, at the same time, invite a rethinking of big cities and working arrangements. That is what has happened in Mezzana, Val di Sole, where Cooperazione Trentina opened the Trentino Social Tank, a place where professionals and “nomad” workers, who work in Trentino temporarily, have found their new work space.
Launching these new working modes however is not easy, and that is why the opportunity must be better communicated in order to be successful. Students from various ECIU member universities who participated in the “Alpine Smart Working Challenge” tried to solve this problem and, for a few days, worked on a solution with the challenge providers, that is ImpactHub Trento, Trentino Social Tank and Federazione Trentina della Cooperazione.
15 students from University of Trento, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, University of Aveiro and University of Stavanger, grouped in teams, took on the challenge, and the “Valley Workers” team of Sofia Greganti, Rewanth Radhakrishnan and Sofia Gurskaia, won it. The students bet on innovation: they proposed to invite small and large companies to get in touch with the “InCooperazione-Coworking” project to organize "workations", that is vacations that allow you to work remotely and include training, group work and team building initiatives while visiting Trentino.
The telecommunications market is about to enter a delicate phase, where new competitors are joining the market offering lower prices for even more efficient services. This uses up the available band space rapidly, therefore new solutions are necessary to renew the business lines and ensure competitiveness. That is what WindTre asked students: find a way to help them continue to be a market leader. The challenge came with another request: to make the proposal sustainable so that, five years from now, their business can be even more environmental-friendly.
For two days, 26 students from ECIU member universities (University of Stavanger, Kaunas University of Technology, Tampere University, University of Trento) worked together in teams studying statistics and data provided by the company and other sources. The most convincing solution was proposed by team "Move2Sustain", including Filippo Di Sabato, Md Ashraful Alam Hazari, Lucia Hrovatin, Hamed Talebian, Lizaveta Trafimuk. Their idea combines telecommunications and sustainable mobility in an offer designed for young people that, in addition to voice calls, mobile phone data and messaging, gives access to public electric scooters or other sustainable mobility modes.
The winners will visit the headquarters of WindTre in Milan, to take a look at how things work, talk to managers, receive help for their project and discuss its development.
Text: Alessandra Saletti, University of Trento
Photos: Federico Nardelli, University of Trento