My name is Zifei. I have been working at the Institute for Facility Management since September 2022 as part of the Programme Manager team for the MSc Real Estate & Facility Management. The institute is located in Wädenswil. In the beginning, it took me quite a while to connect with my own campus and get to know people I don’t work with directly, and even more so with the campuses in Zurich or in Winterthur. So I immediately seized the opportunity of the ZHAW entrepreneurship Innovation Challenge to take part in a ZHAW-wide initiative.
With my background as an architect and my work in the cross-sectional discipline of Real Estate and Facility Management, I am used to working in transdisciplinary teams.
I believe that only with a holistic approach can we achieve the most innovative results.
I met like-minded people at the Bootcamp Day of the Innovation Challenge.
We think that there is a lack of physical spaces where students and staff can meet and get to know each other in a collaborative and extra-curricular environment.
We (my team members from The InHouse and me) want to fill this gap by creating a low-threshold hands-on learning environment through the construction and operation of a greenhouse. By involving students and staff from all ZHAW departments, we can draw on their diverse expertise and skills to plan and build the greenhouse, cultivate the plants and prepare meals from the harvested produce. We will support everyone involved to develop new skills. In addition, we can continually improve the greenhouse facilities and find ways to integrate them into various ZHAW curricula and research activities. This approach will help foster an entrepre-neurial mindset by stimulating creativity, innovation and promoting collaboration across different disciplines.
During our testing phase, a number of stakeholders showed great interest in our project. The interest ranged from wanting to integrate lectures and student activities into our project as a living lab, to wishing to promote social interaction during an office move. This showed us that there were several potential needs that this project could address.
The project is now in the prototyping phase.
We have conducted interviews with students and staff. Most of them liked the hands-on and “offline” activity. They appreciated the environmental and social sustainability aspect of the project.
We will be testing our riskiest assumption, that there is genuine interest and that participants will maintain the same intrinsic motivation over time. We will therefore be setting up prototypes consisting of raised garden beds on wheels to test the site and the setup.
So let’s grow together, be a pioneer and sign up for the launch of our first run!