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we make people take action

If not us, then who?

[I am writing from a Café here in Barcelona, close to the Macba, where last evening I was able to dance with my BCN homies and finally live the street a bit again. The vibes of this amazing weekend are definitely still in the air.]

AlumniUnite! One Year ago, Alumni Connect in Berlin. And by a year I go, I actually mean 361 days. Sometimes a year feels like an eternity, some other times it feels like a blink of an eye. Hands down, a lot of things happen during the previous year. Good things. Both in my personal and professional life (isn’t it the same?), as in the ones of my fellow alumni’s, as in the one of the community.

What was different from last year?

[update: now I am writing on the plane, while flying back to Eindhoven]

First of all, the landscape, of course. Having the panorama view on the Mediterranean Sea it is something that definitely makes dreams and visions more tangible, especially for someone who does not have the privilege of experiencing it often, like me.

I felt that the community who came together for the second time was somehow able to bring back even more emotions into the energy challenge equation. Let’s face that, we are all engineers! Nevertheless, what we do is not really motivated by our brain as much as we like to think. It’s more of a gut thing. If last year I truly felt the passion of people only in one or two particular moments (read last year piece to know more), this year there were plenty of them.

We had the CEO of KIC (push up) InnoenergyDiego Pavia, opening the evening on Friday. He talked about the impact that the Innoenergy community is having in the energy world and society in general, and it is not only about prototypes and financial projections. It’s about getting inspired, dare to do the things we feel are right and, as Diego Pavia pointed out in the final part of his talk, it is about being free and aware that the biggest things that are holding us back from doing, if any, are in our mind. But he was not the only one there to inspire us! There were many other inspiring changemakers. I am a bit biased, I have to be honest, but I loved the concentration of humanity that the NGO Street Child brought to the event and I was super happy to see that the community responded so well to their call for help. I have listened to the talk of Vincenzo Capogna from OoluSolarpresenting some of the great job he is doing in West Africa. I am impressed by the growth of the solar energy market in such countries. And when we think renewables are always good, we are reminded of the importance of taking social acceptance and social responsibility seriously into account. Companies need to embrace these when dealing with their projects (quite obvious but apparently not as common as it should be, unfortunately), as Mariana Catalina Jimenez Martinez pointed out with her talk on why social impact must be considered from the early stage of large energy projects. There were three parallel sessions (so many interesting speakers!) and I chose my “path” to resonate with my always growing interest in the social domain. Lately, I have been feeling connected to the energy sector when the impact is immediate, obvious, and, why not, can instantly positively change lives. That is why I am digging deeper in the world of Energy for “sustainable development” (as some people might call it).

Sometimes we forget that there are so many places in the world where even the least efficient PV and the most outdated battery can still make a tremendous positive contribution! Thanks to Silvia who walked us through the amazing job she and her company Microenergy International is doing and made me learn about new ways of bringing electricity to many underprivileged realities. I wish you best of luck (and hopefully fun) with the project about Swarm Electrification in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to listen to Hamish story, but the little chat we had was enough to at least connect and getting to know each other a tiny bit (thanks for sharing the info about your amazing adventures man). It was motivating to see always more people embracing the entrepreneurial journey, like Sunay Gupta with WindiGlobe. Check his pico-turbines if you want to know more or find a way to support him (interns wanted!).

So many people, so many stories. Seriously, good job guys! I feel we are really going in the right direction. Leo (the Before the Flood guy) might pay us a visit in the coming future ;). As a community, we might need just need to keep spicing up the whole conversation with even more motivation, call for actions and concrete things.

The hosting of the event (a part from the parties, the swimming pool, the mediaeval tower, the sauna, the food, the photo booth, the beach lunch, the goodie-bags) was great. Glad to see that Falko and Tiago embraced their passion for facilitation and took it to the next level compared to last year (where it was already on a really high level). Thanks for guiding us through, thanks for the patience (I know, I know) and thanks again for the opportunity. The idea of putting the collective mind of the community at service of the nine question holders has been a very big value generating move. I love useful stuff! 20 people helped me and wedoWE advance the www.wedoENERGY.org map. Thanks again to everyone in the wedoENERGY co-creation team, especially to Oğuz for the facilitation and to Niko for helping out during the final presentation. I have to say that when you work so much on something that you care about and you see people passionately committed to help you out, is definitely a feeling I recommend more people to have.

To keep it short, if you guys and gals are willing to make and adventure (internship project, thesis, after graduation experience, explore business opportunities, whatever) where to put your energy and life experience to help fighting energy poverty, browse the map, share your contacts, add a pin. Specifically, if you have a story to share, you can pin it under “stories”. Also, feel free to give feedback and all sort of suggestions. One of the action steps was about the ease of connection, so if you know people in (Universities) in Africa, Latin America and Asia that are passionate about energy let them know, they can add themselves on the map and add their contacts (WhatsApp). Remember, this is for us and the goal is to be useful!

In general, what I saw at the Alumni Unite event was the urgency from many students, and many alumni, to do “Real Life Related” projects and I liked it a lot. A piece of wisdom I feel we all agree on is not to wait for someone or something to facilitate our project, dream, plans. If you want something to happen, make it happen! Seriously, DO!

Thanks again to everyone for this great experience, to the people I can call now friends (yes mr. Capizzi you are part of those), to my roomies Farid and Tomas and my Eindhoven gang, to the inspiring entrepreneurs I met (Sandro with FlexiCity, Philipp with CaalaJulian with his Race Car) and all the new awesome people that made this what it is. Thanks to the organizing team, with the captain Claudio Geyken. Best of luck with the upcoming challenges and the follow up on the platforms (you better check this out www.community.kic-innoenergy.com).

Alright I am landing in the super warm Eindhoven (7 °C) ready for some new adventures. Let’s do, let’s evolve, let’s Unite! See you next year!