This week, Leuven is in the spotlight as the sports epicenter of the world. The passage of the World cycling championships puts the city and the region once more on the international map. But it will not only be the fantastic aerial images of the region that will make people's mouths water. The technological know-how of the region is also of world (champion's) level. Every day of this week, we put a Leuven-based bicycle innovator in the spotlight. Today (Wednesday): WeWatt.
The concept is simple: pedalling at an easy speed on the integrated bikes generates 'green' energy for charging smart phones, tablets and laptops. "Doing your bit and generating your own electricity is both fun and healthy. Because our kiosks and benches are in public spaces, they also generate plenty of social contact," says CEO Patricia Ceysens.
Enthusiastically she talks about the implementation of her idea into a product. The idea was simple: we need to move more, and we need more sustainable energy. The elaboration - a worktable with pedals that produces energy - had a lot of difficulties. I'm not an engineer, but a lawyer. So, you have to gather the right expertise. And once you have your product, things move fast. We realized that we had to internationalize at a rapid pace.
Today, WeWatt products feature in public spaces in over twenty countries worldwide and the export market accounts for a significant share of the company's success.
For example, the Australians embraced the idea of generating electricity while sitting on a comfy gym bike. At Brisbane International Airport, you can pedal away on Leuven-based bikes. The kiosks are free to use, and Clint Harvey, the business development manager at Brisbane Airport Corporation, said that he got the idea to install them after seeing similar setups in European airports and train stations: "The concept started in Belgium and France and we thought it would make a unique experience for the airport and wanted to be the first in Australia to do it."
WeWatt human powered bike furniture is an innovative response to today's need for both more physical exercise and tapping into sources of (renewable) energy, anywhere and at any time. Many other airports, train stations, universities, hotels, conference centers, shopping centers and companies are among the many clients that have embraced this innovative concept.