/Ideas from Europe Part 1/
The ‘Ideas for Europe’ grand finale was an outstanding success. The range of ideas was impressive and some really useful and interesting ones emerged. Held in the presence and with the support of Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry and SMEs, the 12 speakers presented on topics ranging from Artificial Intelligence and replacement bones to how to get children interested in learning and developing creativity skills.
Some speakers had developed or discovered great ideas still to be taken forward, while others had identified a ‘problem’ and had come up with solutions … and now needed help and guidance on how to develop them to a level at which they could be made available across Europe.
Take Gerhard Dust for example. Gerhard comes from Germany and had moved to Florida to retire and play golf but an enormous earthquake in Haiti changed all that. Gerhard realised that the earthquake had ripped apart one of the fundamental and perhaps most basic of human needs: the need for shelter from the elements. He did some research and some maths, reaching the conclusion that a staggering 1.2 billion people around the world lived without sustainable shelter because of a lack of affordable and available building material. He then set out to solve the problem. The result is Polymer Concrete – it takes 20 minutes to create building blocks in a material that is nearly four times harder than normal concrete and only requires a simple machine to make.
„Full recovery with the little help from mother nature“
Advances in the medical field were the subjects for four of the speakers. Lorenzo Pradella from Italy had turned to nature for his Greenbone project to develop new bone-regenerative technologies that deliver faster healing, lower rejection issues and thus lower healthcare costs. On the other hand, Cécile Real from France was passionate about developing an information-exchange about endometriosis by creating a technology-mediated platform to provide enhanced communication, access to the latest research and diagnostic techniques. Her platform, OZ202, is the most recent step in a long campaign to generate support for this gender-specific and little-known disease that costs a world wide total of EUR 40 billion to treat. Two other speakers, Nora Khaldi of Ireland and Jos Joore of the Netherlands, wanted a switch in focus from cure to prevention and better understanding of treatments in the form of what works and what doesn’t and within what parameters. This was something that members of the audience got behind and offers of help and assistance were forthcoming.
“Let´s keep the sparkles in kids eyes, let´s keep their “AHA” moment”
Perhaps the most engaging speakers were Stefania Druga from Romania and Micael Hermansson from Sweden and their subject: creativity and learning. For Stefania, the problem is the need for creativity to be nurtured and even taught in schools so that children become ‘creators’ and not ‘consumers’. She was also passionate about the need to keep girls interested is science and technology subjects as this could contribute EUR 12 trillion to the European economy. Micael, on the other hand, just wanted to share what he was doing as a teacher in northern Sweden. When he first started, the children, when asked what they did at school, would say “nothing” or perhaps “nothing of real interest”. To address this he devoted 30 minutes each day to the ‘Grej of the day’ (which broadly translates as the thing or theme of the day) to ensure that there was at least ONE thing that children remembered about their school-day. There are no ‘no-go areas’ and his pupils engage with topics Micael suggests and now, more and more, with subjects they themselves bring in. “School is cool and nothing will stop the kids from coming to school now” he reports.
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