From confusion to most creative idea – International Clean Energy Challenge for young professionals


64 bright young minds from over 30 countries tackled the energy transition. Our great team ”Energy Unlocked” won the award of the ”Most creative idea” with the project about sustainable energy communities of the future that emphasize the meaning of the end user.

The International Clean Energy Challenge, organised from 22-26 July 2019 in Upper Austria by the OÖ Energiesparverband, brought together 64 highly-qualified young professionals from more than 30 countries and 11 partner companies for an event of collaborative innovation.

I was selected from over 200 applicants to participate in the event. The participants selected were mostly young professionals working in businesses, industry, energy agencies, associations, public bodies and research institutions with a diversity of educational backgrounds including engineering, economy, architecture, business administration, chemistry, mathematics, law, political science and more. 

In teams, we tackled real-life challenges presented by the partner organizations on topics relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy in industry, buildings, e-mobility and more. My team consisted of me, Evangelos Zacharis (Greece), Véronique Groulx (Canada), Jorge Andrey Sterner (Spain), Martina Blazheska (Macedonia) and Magdalini Psarra (Denmark) and of our mentor Christian Pillwein (Austria) from Beckhoff.

My team was assigned to a specific company challenge given by Beckhoff. Work on the challenge consisted of a combination of brainstorming activities, autonomous group work and peer-review sessions. The company representatives were present throughout the entire event and offered valuable support and professional coaching.

We started off with a “world hugging, larger than life idea” that made us all feel confused of what we were actually aiming for. We had three days of intensive time to work. Luckily, the organizer had arranged many peer-review sessions with different techniques that made us prioritize our idea. We finished off with a clear idea that we were proud to present.

In the final session, each group presented its solutions to a jury consisting of management-level representatives of the partner companies as well as the regional energy commissioner. Awards were presented in 4 categories: ”Best presentation”, ”Most creative idea”, ”Strongest business opportunity” and ”Best solution for the company challenge” as well as for the best event photo.

The event was organised by the OÖ Energiesparverband, the regional energy agency and organiser of the annual international conference World Sustainable Energy Days. It was held also in the context of the NEFI project Indugrid.

Photos: OÖ Energiesparverband.