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Technologically enhanced solutions for urban challenges

How can we take design solutions that address urban challenges, and turn them into feasible business opportunities?

Urban Shift is a programme developed to give students the skills and knowledge to develop architectonic products, and set up their own start-up focusing on addressing the EU Green Deal urban challenges of Extreme Weather Events and Mobility/Circularity. Following the success of the start-ups created in the BUILD Solutions programme, Urban Shift will present the opportunity to develop a transdisciplinary start-up with students and learners from the University of Economics and Business (Vienna), Stuttgart Media University (Stuttgart) and The Institute for Economic Promotion (Vienna). This year will be the second edition of Urban Shift. In addition, the start-ups will receive mentoring and support from business partners across Europe, a great networking opportunity.

Credit | OVOLO (Urban Shift)

IAAC students will use computation and digital fabrication to develop products and functioning prototypes along with the Business students who will study the market placement and business plan of the startup, and Media students who will define the promotion and marketing strategies. As part of the programme, students will have the opportunity to travel to Vienna, Austria, for a 5 day kick-off workshop (funded), to set the ground for developing a start-up during the following months. To finish the programme, a closing ceremony will be held in Barcelona with all the partners and students. The work developed by the start-ups will then travel around Europe in the form of an itinerant exhibition promoting the products developed, the start-ups and their members.

Learning Objectives

At course completion the student will:

  • Understand how to take an idea, develop a product, build a prototype and turn it into a start-up
  • Learn about the use of computation and digital fabrication for the development and validation of innovative products
  • Learn how to work as designers in a transdisciplinary team and communicate in a way that is understandable for all start-up members
  • Be capable of designing implementable solutions at a proof of concept level that address the Urban Challenges and are in line with EU Green Deal

Grading Method

European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)

6 ECTS over two terms


Chiara Farinea

Chiara Farinea

Faculty & Nature-based Solution Expert, PhD Arch

Chiara Farinea is currently Head of European Projects and Head of Building with Nature Based Solutions Research at the Advanced Architecture Group Department at IAAC, her position includes being a coordinator and scientific personnel in several EU projects targeted at education, research, development and implementation and being faculty in IAAC educational programs. She developed several experimental projects related to the integration of living systems in urban environments through the use of advanced technologies for design and fabrication. The projects have been exhibited in international events such as the Venice Biennale and integrated in real environments such as public spaces in Barcelona.

Fiona Demeur

Fiona Demeur

Faculty & Erasmus+ Project Manager

Fiona Demeur is an architectural designer with a passion for designing and working with nature to find architectural solutions for the city. She is currently working in the EU Project’s Department as a researcher and managing the Erasmus+ Programmes including Urban Shift.

After completing the Master in Advanced Architecture 02 at IAAC where she developed her thesis on food circularity, she has been involved with two start-ups. The first, eiria, a start-up developed here at IAAC during the BUILDs Programme and formerly known as aeroSQAIR, and secondly add.apt, a start-up based in Lagos, Nigeria formed by IAAC alumni. Both start-ups have been focusing on merging sustainable solutions with technological strategies.

Project Partners

University of Economics and Business (WU), Vienna

Stuttgart Media University (Hdm), Stuttgart

The Institute for Economic Promotion (Wifi: Wirtschaftsförderungsinstitut), Vienna

Terra Institute (Terra), Brixen

Multicriteria (Mca), Barcelona

Pretty Ugly Duckling (PuD)/Blue Growth Consulting, Copenhagen

Green Innovation Group (GIG), Copenhagen