Dropped cell phone calls and no internet: Rail travel within Germany traditionally comes with high potential for frustration. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. After all, the lack of a reliable Internet connection is a profound and structural problem, especially in remote and rural communities. The result is a growing digital divide between urban and rural areas. Two former TUM students have set themselves the goal of overcoming this.
Abdelrahman Gad and Anna Emelianova both studied at TUM Campus Heilbronn, which is why they now have a master's degree in management with a specialization in finance. Since the two came to Germany, they have been united by a common vision: a digitally inclusive society in which everyone has equal access to online information and services - regardless of where they live or work. They believe that this is the only way to achieve equal opportunities and digital inclusion and improve the quality of life of the people concerned.
With their project The Anemoi, Abdelrahman and Anna have brought this vision to life and developed a sustainable solution to provide low-income and digitally under-served regions with a reliable 5G connection. To achieve this, they plan to use off-grid vertical axis wind turbine systems (VAWTs). That is because this approach makes costly cable laying a thing of the past. The Anemoi is focused on a fixed wireless connection that uses existing cables and can expand the service area. In addition, 100% of the power required by the 5G antennas is generated by the VAWT system from solar and wind energy. It is estimated that this solution will save at least 30% of investment costs for network operators. And there are other advantages as well: VAWTs are also insensitive to irregularities in wind speed and direction, have low decibel levels compared to horizontal axis turbines, and are also easy and quick to maintain. So far, Abdelrahman and Anna have designed and simulated an initial virtual prototype, which is currently being tested in real-world conditions.
For its innovative approach to solving a social (and environmental) problem, The Anemoi was awarded the Social Impact Award 2021. This award is presented each year by TUM Management Alumni e.V. to ideas and innovations with a social impact. With the prize money, Abdelrahman and Anna plan to build a working prototype and test the validated designs in the TUM wind tunnel. This measure should provide insight into how the prototype can be improved in terms of hardware.
In conclusion, we asked Abdelrahman and Anna three questions:
How has TUM SoM supported you in your project?
Abdelrahman and Anna: "We agree that the most important contribution of the TUM SoM community to our project were connections and detailed feedback in the early stages. We also took advantage of the pitching and business challenge practice available on our campus."
What's next for The Anemoi?
"We plan to adapt our product according to the broader user feedback we have received and promote social equality through equal digital access."
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs struggling with ideas for their business?
"Learn the basics of design thinking, get as much feedback from other entrepreneurs as possible, and never forget your mission that inspired you in the first place."