Supported by the SRH Gründer-Institut, two students – John Iwueke in Water Technology and Shradhha Pawar in Applied Computer Science – are developing an app with the goal of improving the world a bit. We talked with John about this idea, which they presented at the “Neckar Now” summer school in August 2020.

How did you come up with the idea for Move & Müll?

Move & Müll came about during my work as a student assistant for Professor Ulrike Gayh of Water Technology. She gave me the task of researching digital components that could be used to improve the environment. So I started to research, and that’s how the idea of a game evolved. At that time, I was also doing a course on waste management taught by Dr. Thomas Sterr, and he showed us different scenarios of environmental degradation in developing countries and how people could not do anything about it. One example was in my home country of Nigeria, where, the government alone is responsible for initiating change. However, they have done nothing to control flooding and improve sanitation. This annoyed me greatly, so I started thinking that we have to make the change ourselves. I began to read more about games and how they can help raise people’s awareness of what is going on in their environment. So we decided to create Move & Müll to simulate a real environment where your decisions in the game equal the environmental impact. We now had the challenge of creating an intrinsic motivation for players so that they would be interested in playing the game, and that’s what we are working on at the moment.

How does the game work?

The game will be a casual single-player game where the player explores the environment, picks up waste, and puts in his “Trash Bank”. When the bank is full, he then sorts and disposes of it, and as he does so, other people in the city begin to join him in doing the same. He then becomes a “Valued Garbage Collector”. We also intend to add fun activities to the game such as basketball, where players sort waste by throwing it into the right bin, subconsciously teaching them to separate waste in the real world.

What is your long-term goal?

Our long-term goal is to use this project to teach people about the environment and what they can do to slow down the rate of environmental degradation. We plan to do this in fun ways that can actually be effective. The game is one method. We also have an Instagram and YouTube channel called “SpheriEarth” where we show some of the environmental practices that people can embrace to help in the fight against climate change. At the moment, we have a group of ten students from different parts of the world. We plan to continuously expand this group, because we believe that protecting our environment is for everyone’s good.

How do you want to earn money with SpheriEarth?

We believe in sustainable innovation, which means using a business model to achieve a cleaner, healthier, fairer and more stable world. We will earn more from the fremium model of the game, which would be free to download on app stores but would have in-app purchases and adverts. We plan to advertise mostly sustainable products in our game. We also hope to make a little money from the YouTube channel, which would attract more viewers with consistent involvement. Currently, we receive support from the Heidelberg Creative Institute, which is helping us with business coaching. We are also applying to a number of start-up accelerator programmes, and have our fingers crossed for this project.

We are proud that SpheriEarth received a grant of €1,000 from the „Heidelberg Amt für Stadtentwicklung und Statistik“. The money will be used to officially register SpheriEarth.