The DOMOTEX 2021 keynote theme "COVER NEW GROUND" is set to revolutionize the way people think about flooring. And rightly so, as the current climate calls for innovative ideas. Responding to this need are solutions such as the ingenious flooring system from London-based company Pavegen, which turns every step taken across it into approximately five watts of electricity. When the campus-wide "50 ideas for the future" competition launched in the run-up to HAW Hamburg’s 50th anniversary in the summer semester of 2019, one of the 50 projects submitted was inspired by this very system. Titled "Walking for Africa's Future", this project was recently singled out as one of the top three ideas in the entire competition by a panel of judges headed by senator for science Katharina Fegebank.

The team behind the project - Prof. Jörg Andreä, Rodrigo Armada Tapia and Alisha Dabonde from the Nutrition and Home Economics department in the Life Sciences faculty - began by examining how they could make light work of generating energy and supporting sustainable initiatives in Africa. The aim was to help local African communities by donating funds to areas lacking electricity and job opportunities and to use the project to show how activities we barely even think about, such as walking, can shape a more sustainable society. The team found exactly what it was looking for in the innovative tiles from Pavegen. Installed in the entrance of Hamburg's central train station, these tiles generate energy as people set foot on them. And since they are connected to the power grid, this energy can be stored and sold on. The proceeds go to the Solar Sister charity, which teaches women about sustainable energy, leadership and entrepreneurship and provides them with products that generate clean energy. Thanks to the charity’s efforts, more than 4,000 businesses have already been set up, which provide over 1.5 million people with clean electricity.

Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg) (20099 Hamburg, Germany)