Photo courtesy of Moonshot Pirates

Zoomers: You’re Invited To Shape The Future Of Mobility!

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Are you a teen, aged 15-20? Do you have a creative idea that could help to redesign the world of mobility? If so, you must apply to the global entrepreneurship competition, “Shape the Future of Mobility,” which starts May 9, 2023. Develop and pitch your ideas on the topic of mobility.

Moonshot Pirates, in collaboration with Volkswagen and Asfinag, have launched this innovative challenge for young changemakers.

There’s so much to consider: e-mobility, autonomous driving, sustainable transportation, the Internet of Things, circular economies, shared mobility, the influence of algorithms, mobility data pattern analyses… and so many more….


The top 7 teams will be selected through online voting and criteria assessment to participate in the final online pitching event. There, an expert jury will choose the team with the best idea. Winning entries will enter into a whirlwind of mentoring, online workshops, and peer work — all of which are designed to encourage young people to explore new technologies. The top winning team even wins a trip to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, where they’ll visit the headquarters of Google, Apple, Instagram, and other successful companies to experience the entrepreneurial mindset firsthand.

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The challenge aims to inspire young people to take action and positively impact the world by tackling real-world mobility issues. The press release describes the endeavor as celebrating a different approach to education where hands-on experience sparks passion and inspires young people to follow their own dreams.

“For me, it was a life-changing experience. I loved learning about the Silicon Valley mindset – entrepreneurs here are fearless about getting their products out into the world and making mistakes, and then improving in the future. I would recommend anyone to join the challenge!” — Charlotte, 19, previous winner of the challenge.

The “Shape the Future of Mobility Challenge” invites teams of young entrepreneurs and innovators to engage in an online adventure. They’ll collaborate in teams of 2 to 6 people to work on innovative solutions that align with the Sustainable Development Goals from the UN for a more sustainable future of mobility. The transport sector will be playing a particularly important role in the achievement of the Paris Agreement, given the fact close to a quarter of energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions come from transport and that these emissions are projected to grow substantially in the years to come.

The challenge includes short videos, online mentoring with experts in the fields of mobility, and a supportive community of like-minded peers. Throughout the challenge, each team develops an idea from the ground and is challenged to create a final pitch video. Moonshot Pirates focuses on 3 pillars that help youth gain the skills of tomorrow:

  • Thinking: Participants draw connections among their current behavior and future goals. They are encouraged to do things without the fear of failing and to develop a growth mindset, rather than a fixed or scarcity mindset. A growth mindset allows them to see failing as a chance to learn and grow. Failing is part of the success, not the end to it — they gain tools to get up, to persevere, to learn, to keep going, and to change the world.
  • Exponential technologies and innovation: No matter what life and career students ultimately pursue, they will have to adapt to new circumstances and be innovative in order to be successful. Every technological innovation provides us with countless new opportunities and with possible solutions for challenges that seemed to be unsolvable not so long ago. By creating an understanding of future technologies, current innovations, the abundance of resources, and exponential strategies, participants become ready for the future and its challenges.
  • Start building what matters: The project helps participants to gain awareness by asking them: What would you change? Why exactly YOU? Why precisely THAT? What distinguishes you from others? What is your pirate skill? What would you do if you had all the resources you need? By following this specific path and a very practical approach, participants acquire crucial skills for leadership in the future.

A jury chooses one winning team based on 4 criteria: impact, feasibility, radicality, and WOW Effect (“Does it put a smile on your customer’s face?”).

The Sponsors of the Shape the Future of Mobility Challenge

Moonshot Pirates is a global educational platform that enables young people from 125+ countries to acquire 21st-century skills, solve global challenges by developing innovative solutions for the SDGs, and to advise and challenge established companies. Because they believe in the power of young people  — their ability to brainstorm new ideas and solutions —  they encourage young leaders and changemakers to think big, build on their passions, gain relevant skills, and explore the possibilities of the latest technologies.

They’ve worked with more than 5000 young “pirates” from 100+ countries who have grown and advanced their entrepreneurial and creative skills as well as created innovative solutions for global challenges. In 2021, Moonshot Pirates activated their community of pirates, mentors, supporters, and partners through a digital platform, mentoring program, an international online challenge, idea incubator, several Bootcamps, community events, webinars and talks with a strong focus on positive impact in many countries across the globe.

In the past, Moonshot Pirates have had participants have gone on to intern at top companies such as NASA, receive funding for their impact-driven ideas, and gain acceptance to prestigious universities such as USC and Stanford.

The challenge coincides with the Volkswagen Group‘s own tech evolution. The 85-year-old company is currently in the largest process of transformation in its history. With its strategy “New Auto – Mobility for Generations to Come,” the multinational automotive company is reinventing itself in an automotive industry that’s become software-driven mobility providers. Their Group Innovation is focusing now on decarbonization, security, conserving resources, and future mobility models for maximum customer benefits.

“Young people are our future and we want to invite them to contribute actively to shaping this future,” explains Nikolai Ardey, head of Volkswagen Group Innovation. “With the Shaping the Future of Mobility Challenge, we offer them a platform that sparks their creativity, promotes their future competences, and challenges them to develop effective answers to the big questions of the mobility world. We at Volkswagen are convinced that practical experience can boost a young person’s individual development and stimulate innovative ideas. We are pleased that our mobility experts will be supporting the teams in realizing their projects.”

Asfinag is a sustainable mobility partner. They connect regions and people in the heart of Europe. The company was founded in 1982 and is owned by the state. They plan, fund, build, maintain, operate, and collect tolls along almost 2,249 kilometers of motorways and expressways.

Background & Context of the Moonshot Pirates

We reached out to Aneta Londa, co-founder of Moonshot Pirates, for additional details. Here’s our Q&A.

How did the name “pirates” become integral to the endeavor? 

To be a pirate means to go and find your own way in life. It means to sail away from the safe harbor and try out what others think is unachievable. It means to be brave. What we want is that young people discover their strength and passions, set their goals high, find their North Star and then act accordingly. It’s all about reating your own map for life! “So, what are you going to do after you graduate?” From the day we enter the high school until the day we graduate, we clearly can’t avoid that question. While it mostly comes from a well-intended person, answering this question is not an easy task. This time in life can be confusing, and it can mislead you into choosing a wrong college or accepting a wrong job if you don’t know who you are, and what you want. Therefore, learning about yourself, your dreams, and the way you want to impact the world is a first step you need to take to build a successful future. Also, to ERR is human, to ARR is pirate – an integral part of our programs is to see failure as a part of the journey towards success.

When did Moonshot Pirates begin, and what inspired it?

The idea of Moonshot Pirates was born back in 2018.Together with my co-founder Marko Londa, we have officially founded a year later in 2019. Here a bit of my personal why for starting Moonshot Pirates. Back in 2015, I hit a wall. On paper, I was successful by all measures: I lived in one of the best cities in the world, had a job that paid well and was high on the ladder. But in reality, I felt unfulfilled. So at that time, I decided to join the organizing team of the TEDx conference here in Austria, which changed everything.

I was suddenly surrounded by driven people, working on incredible things they were passionate about. I quickly saw how important it is to be around the right people and knowledge. I thought about how amazing it would have been if I had had that possibility sooner, when I was still in high school. If I had focused not only on getting straight A’s, but also tried things out, connected with the right people, and had the mindset and bravery to go my own way. That was when the idea of Moonshot Pirates was born.

So in 2019, I founded Moonshot Pirates to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to become impact-driven leaders. You know, I believe education should go beyond memorizing facts and passing tests; it should foster creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation. That’s why Moonshot Pirates offers programs, tools, and mentoring to help young people discover their passion and make a real difference in the world.

Who won in 2022, and what made this entry successful? Is there a list of top 2022 entries? 

Team LOOP with two young changemakers – Zara Pehlivani and Emilio Bazan did an amazing job developing and pitching their idea. Over 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and most of them can’t afford treatment (which is usually ineffective, anyway). LOOP is working towards a wristband that detects incoming seizures through compounds in sweat, and alerts the user in advance, so they can use our handheld ultrasound device, which stops focal seizures in real-time. Both are customizable and kid-friendly and reduce costs by over tenfold. Here you can see their 1-minute video submitted for final pitching: Loop | #beapirate challenge 2022. In addition, in this blog post you can find the list of 2022 finalists:

Is there a list and description of all top winning entries? It would be interesting to see these types of visions that the young people had.

This press release is about the Shape the Future Challenge. How does it differ from the online programs, webinars, etc. that the website offers? Are they all part of a whole, or are they distinct from each other?

Since 2019, we’ve enabled thousands of young people from more than 125 countries to explore their potential and turn their ideas into reality. We’ve launched multiple programs, from innovation bootcamps to worldwide challenges, talks, webinars, and peer mentorship programs. What sets our programs apart is the global community and the personal touch in every program created by our crew of mentors. We’ve also worked with established companies to connect them with the brilliant talent in our community, to find out how young people see the future of work, but also to together develop innovative solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals within their industries. The shape the future challenge is now a new series, that focuses on specific industries. When young people join our programs, they are also entering the community of young leaders and changemakers.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack:

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