SmartBiking – high-school students developing new solutions

| February 23, 2015

The winners of Best Project. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen, Svendborg Municipality

Mutual gains were obtained when the Danish Municipality of Svendborg engaged in a collaboration with local high schools. Part of the purpose was to find solutions for specific challenges through collaboration with the target audience.

By Klaus Johannessen, Svendborg Municipality, and Birger Villadsen, COWI

Innovation through collaboration
The Danish Municipality of Svendborg wanted to improve the cycling environment for young people living in the municipality. To meet this ambition, it was decided to organize a collaborative project between three local high schools. In late 2014, 250 young people from Svendborg competed about being the most innovative group by proposing new ideas for future cycling projects in the municipality.

Three high schools worked with the overall subject, cycling, applying different approaches and inspiring each other. The project was framed by a steering committee consisting of teachers, the Municipality of Svendborg and COWI, a large Danish consulting firm and member of the Cycling Embassy of Denmark

The project started with a one-day conference opened by the Mayor of Svendborg. The purpose of this day was for the students to generate ideas for new cycling projects while being assisted by an innovation team from the University of Southern Denmark. During the day, the students came up with a lot of ideas and the term SmartBiking.

The main topics for the project were health, multi-modal transportation and development, design and construction of secure bicycle-parking. The topics were chosen to support Svendborg’s overall strategy to improve public health and promote cycling as an environmentally-friendly mode of transportation.

After the conference, the students went back to each of their high schools and further generated concepts and ideas.

Presentation of ideas
Eight weeks after the conference, 250 high-school students gathered to compete in the three different project categories. Approximately 65 groups presented their ideas to attract each other’s and the judges’ attention.

The room was full of expectations as the presentations took place, and it felt like a real sale conference – especially because prizes in the three different categories were at stake. Students voted on other groups’ solutions via their cellphones during the day, and winners were found and rewarded.

The purpose of the project was to prepare students for their future work life, stimulating their innovative and cooperative capabilities while also helping the Municipality of Svendborg with solutions for concrete challenges by involving the users.

What’s next?
Some of the proposed ideas will be handled on a political level while others will be used in future campaigns for nudging purposes. Furthermore, the Municipality of Svendborg has set aside funds to construct new bicycle parking spots at the high schools.

Category: Campaigns

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