Let´s KIC Off 2015

The KIC InnoEnergy Master School for 2015 has officially KICked off! Energy levels were through the roof of the historic venue the Haus der Begegung in Königstein – fuelling this exciting 3-day event. Esteemed teachers and students of the KIC InnoEnergy Master School and important industry experts connected and shared ideas through a serious of presentations, group discussions and celebrations – an amazing opportunity for all involved to mingle, network and propel this year’s new students into their studies.  

KIC InnoEnergy Master School – A big step in the right direction

Students will embark on an educational journey, through one of the seven intensive programmes offered; each designed to combine innovation, education and business creation – the KIC IE Triangle – which is not only crucial to understanding the global challenges of sustainable energy today – but also to finding the best solutions. And what better way to begin this thrilling challenge then with this spirited event!

“Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill.”

Stephen Hawking

Leaders share

Matt Clarke seamlessly guided the fast-paced agenda (with the tireless behind-the-scenes help of the IE staff) and as promised, it was not a boring parade of PowerPoint presentations.  Instead, students were treated to real-life examples and inspiring stories – all designed to spark conversation and to explore the unknown instead of examining the already known.

Talks included updates on the current EU sustainable energy challenges by policy officer Gauthier Grousset (from the DG Education and Culture in the European Commission), who deftly pointed out that all innovation is built on what was done in the past – and since education has not changed much in the past 100’s of years we must invent new ways of teaching, to innovate our teaching methods.

Isabelle Darrigues and Marlène of EDF demonstrated true synergy by presenting together some ideas that will give the entire world easy access to electricity, which consider sustainable energy on all levels of the project planning.

André Moura from Pro Drone shared his journey from an epiphany in the Peruvian jungle (amid fervent nods of many in the audience) to the creation of his company with the help of KIC. Then Tom Huizer completely motivated the group with his story of how far he’s come since being exactly where they are in the programme at KIC Master School. After those last two talks, there was not a single student that couldn’t visualise themselves up on that stage in a couple years.

In the spotlight

All eyes were on KIC InnoEnergy’s CEO, Diego Pavia. With an educational background in electrical engineering, this prolific entrepreneur has created 7 successful companies in his lifetime – so far. Who better encapsulates the very innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the Master School program?! Students were assured that they were in the exact right place, at the exact right time to change the game.

Matthias Willenbacher – the co-founder of Juwi Holding AG, which specialises in building renewable energy facilities – made a rare stage appearance. This pioneer has truly made his mark in the industry, not only on an entrepreneurial level – but also as a revolutionist in the idea of reaching the goal of 100% renewable energy. A free copy of his best-selling book, “My Indecent Proposal to the Chancellor” was an attendance perk. He shared the story of his humble beginnings, foraging for the money and support to purchase his first wind turbine and the message was clear – stay focused. If there’s a hurdle go over, under or around it!

The creative juices begin to flow

At the end of the presentations is where the real magic happened. Each group was instructed to take all their thoughts and ideas from the day and distil them down to the purest form, 3 or 4 macro areas of attention, achievable in 10 years time. All of which should work together in a synergy to create this concept of elegant action in a sustainable world. It was a humbling task, but the 28 groups (of 7 students and one facilitator) were up for the challenge.

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

When the answers were in, the sweat still drying on their brow, the group speakers had indeed summed up the experience and these 4 macro goals emerged:

1.      Education – without learning there is no innovation and change

2.      Empowering people and communities – the market will drive the change

3.      Technology – continue to discover new sources and improve on existing

4.      Politics – enabling change with regards to finance and policies

Inspired beginnings

Contact information was exchanged, goodbyes were said – and it was clear that this experience had been a real eye opener. If one would compare it to a good relationship – it was the differences (in culture, backgrounds and perspectives) that had made it exciting in the beginning, but is the things that they found in common (the passion for change and to co-create a new tomorrow) that truly allowed it to flourish. And if what they accomplished in just a few days is any indication, imagine what we’ll see happening in the next couple decades!