The SINNergy of Water

The SINN! network event at the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg

Presenters in front of SINN! sign

There are events that show you that change is easy. And such an event took place on 22 November 2022 at the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg when the SINN! network held its second event there under the header “sustainable innovations using water as an example — avoiding plastic and saving CO2”. From the start, the evening developed its own dynamics, also triggered by the creative setup and design of the SAP AppHaus space.

What is SINN!?

That this event was something special could be seen by the great turnout of the evening, and by the fact that one quarter of the visitors had taken part in the first event, too. But what is SINN! and what does it stand for? SINN!, as the moderator of the evening, Sven Marten, explained, wants to create a local network by setting up quarterly live events. The aim is to develop cases that can be easily implemented by companies, because “we already have everything we need.” Founders Professor Ulrike Gayh (SRH University Heidelberg), Irina Pfenning (Attacoeurs Circular Designers), and Ursula Rothenstein (Abendschule Heppenheim) developed the idea during the 2022 educon and won the first prize for it.

Ursula Rothenstein, Prof Ulrike Gayh, Irina Pfenning, and Sven Marten
Ursula Rothenstein, Prof Ulrike Gayh, Irina Pfenning, and Sven Marten

Water sustainability projects

The focus of this evening lay on bringing together sustainability projects that already exist and developing new co-operations and synergies.

Professor Ulrike Gayh, founder of the project Democratia-Aqua-Technica and co-founder of the SINN!-network, stressed that the Heidelberg tap water was absolutely safe to drink. Not only that but that it was healthy, practical, sustainable, and worthwhile to do so. Any inhibitions were unfounded.

Alice Knorz, CEO of the NGO fairantwortung gAG and the initiative “trinkfair”, drove the point home even more impressively. In the last eleven years, five trillion plastic bottles had been produced worldwide, and every year half a trillion were added. The problem: the production of plastic bottles cost natural resources and, as everyone knows, plastic waste is the curse of our age. One bottle caused 203 g of CO2, tap water only .35 g. trinkfair has a calculator on their website where you can calculate how much CO2 you can save when you get rid of plastic bottles in your household or company.

Singer Rolf Stahlhofen, founder of the band Söhne Mannheims, has always engaged himself in social projects out of the personal conviction of wanting to give something back, having grown up in countries such as Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. For him, water should be seen as the precious thing it is. That is why he created the Water is Right foundation whose aim it has been for the last twelve years to make the distribution of water fairer. But he also realized that as a musician, he was part of the problem, with so many plastic water bottles being consumed during concerts. So he had a transportable water bar developed, which musicians can take on tour with them, and which at the same time funds water projects in regions without access to clean drinking water. This was tested on the latest Udo Lindenberg tour and a full success.

Rolf Stahlhofen presenting
Rolf Stahlhofen

The creative energy of music

The musical accompaniment of the evening will remain in people’s memories for a long time. It was provided by the excellent musicians Neo Stefanou (guitar) and Caroline Werkle (cello), who were spontaneously joined by local legend Jason Wright (The Wright Thing), who lives in the neighbourhood and was eager to support this event. This is just one example how this evening the right people found one another to create something bigger than themselves. Later on, they were even joined by Rolf Stahlhofen for a heart-warming rendering of the Söhne Mannheims hit “Geh davon aus.”

Caroline Werkle playing Cello, Neo Stefanou playing guitar, Jason Wright playing keyboard
Caroline Werkle, Neo Stefanou, and Jason Wright

The workshop and Design Thinking

During the workshop phase, the strengths of the SAP AppHaus team came into play, that is, help SAP clients rethink and improve their business processes building upon SAP Business Technology Platform along SAP’s Human-Centered Approach to Innovation with Design Thinking as one of the collaboration methods.

The effectiveness of the iteration process of this method was shown by the fact that, within no time, people who did not know each other before developed concrete sustainable ideas. And only a little time later, each group presented their best idea to the large group. Examples presented were a faucet that would indicate both the water quality and the amount used, a “waterwareness” kit that could be used for info workshops on the importance of using tap water, or the development of an app to multiply best practices of the sustainable use of water. The overall winner chosen was the Toilet Project: a proposed hackathon on a rather private subject matter: dividing pee and poo on the toilet to be able to reuse both.

Participants loved this part of the evening. As many commented: When do you have a company’s CEO, a professor, and a high school student brainstorming together? When can people from universities, businesses and government institutions exchange ideas without any pressure?

people smiling and talking
During the workshop

Not just post-its but do-its

During the entire evening, the focus lay on the doing rather than on the talking. This wasn’t only palpable but also visible. For example, a match-making whiteboard was positioned at the entrance of the venue where people could indicate what they were looking for, what they had on offer, which project ideas they had, and which ones were already ongoing. Throughout the evening, this board filled up nicely.

And the SAP AppHaus itself got inspired, too. The Water is Right water bar remains on display and in use in the venue, and Senior Vice President Andreas Hauser is busy connecting interested parties. As he remarks: „Sustainability nowadays is often nothing more than a buzzword. But with networking events like this, we help people better understand what it’s all about. It’s so simple to do something sustainable. Everybody can contribute with just smaller behavioural changes.”

For the SAP AppHaus, the next sustainability event was already around the corner, with students of Ludwigshafen University coming over for a hands-on workshop on December 8, looking for sustainability solutions for their place of learning.

What does SINN! think of its second event? “We were thrilled about the large number and diversity of registrations, which show us that there is a strong need for networking and shared learning. Also, impulses from the presentations of the evening could be directly implemented in companies. The setup in the AppHaus is optimal to get co-creative quickly — and: this was by far the best musical support during a brainstorming session I have ever experienced”, Irina Pfenning told us, smiling broadly.

The third Sinn! live event will take place in early 2023, and the digital SINN! platform will evolve so that networking will be possible on there too. Once it’s up, you’ll have the opportunity to become a part of its community, promote your ideas, host your events, and get connected!

People in front of flipcharts presenting to crowd
Presenting ideas



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