Larisa Gardean

Who are you?

Larisa Gardean works as an architect specialising in the restoration and conversion of historic buildings in Timişoara, Romania. Larisa had previously been involved with Climate-KIC and decided to join the Pioneers programme to increase her knowledge on climate change and systems innovation.

What did you do?

Larisa undertook a placement within an architecture office in Modena, Italy, working on a restoration project which comprised modelling existing buildings, 3D scanning, restoration concept proposal and on-the-job training regarding the use of eco-friendly materials.

During the group project as part of the Pioneers workshops in Romania, Larisa was part of a group working on urban mobility solutions to tackle congestion issues in Timişoara. The group developed the idea for TroGo to create new, sustainable transport facilities for the inhabitants and visitors of Timişoara, by providing a new rental service for electric scooters.

The aim of the project was to provide measurable ecological and social value by reducing emissions and traffic congestion in urban zones through electric scooter smart mobility systems.

Since the initial inception of the model, the team of Climate-KIC Pioneers were selected as one of the 50 finalists in the Future Makers Competition 2018, which is an entrepreneurial education programme that includes a competition for future-oriented business ideas.

TroGo was also the November 2018 winner of the START2ACT energy saving challenge. This is a competition for small businesses funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to support young SMEs and start-ups.

I found the systems innovation model of great benefit as it gave me a whole new way of thinking and a holistic view to approaching problems. It was a complete experience as I have learned a lot about different cultures, ways of working and addressing climate change, and also, as a side effect, I started to learn a new language.

What did you learn?

Larisa has been able to integrate some of the knowledge and skills she acquired as part of her placement to her current work approaches including the use of 3D scanning, which is now used at her practice. She is also now acquainted with the application of sustainability certification for historic buildings used in Italy and will be applying this further on projects she will work on.

Larisa observed that the Pioneers programme works on three different, but complementary levels: there is the systems innovation model training, which provides a broad understanding of the different approaches; the work on the group project, which helps to develop entrepreneurial skills and mindset; and the wider training and placements to develop personal skills and knowledge.

What happens next?

The TroGo project is now in its first year of start-up development. This has included looking at the provision of electric scooters at key locations including host businesses, with the view to rolling out provision to key strategic sites. An app-based model for renting out scooters is being explored and it is anticipated that the project will be rolled out in 2020. Timişoara has been designated to be European Capital of Culture in 2021, and this urban mobility solution will feature as an exemplar model as part of the City celebrations.

The project idea has applied to Climate-KIC’s Accelerator programme for business and start-up support.

Larisa’s architecture office, and her placement host, are expecting to collaborate further in the future to share best practice between the two countries in the field of building restoration.