Imagining Melbourne 2030 with BMW: YourMelbourne 2023 Competition

The YourMelbourne 2023 competition, presented by BMW Group Australia, in partnership with the University of Melbourne and RMIT, challenged students to imagine, design, and present their vision of future mobility in Melbourne in 2030. Students from the University of Melbourne placed first in both categories, with Ashlesha Balyan securing the individual category, and Alisna Yanni, Bryan Edbert Jonathan and Iga Bagus Jaya Wardhana claiming the team category.

BMW Group Australia upholds a steadfast dedication to sustainability, aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050. Embracing a comprehensive ethos of sustainability, BMW integrates this commitment across its production, supply chain, and use phases of its products. Of particular emphasis is BMW's drive for innovation in the production, utilisation, and disposal of electric vehicles, alongside the development of requisite infrastructure, public transport systems, and energy solutions orchestrated to minimise environmental impact.

Against the backdrop of BMW Group Australia’s strategic objectives, the YourMelbourne 2023 competition tasked students with presenting their vision for future mobility in Melbourne in 2030, while aligning their solutions with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This challenge was crafted to prompt students to confront the intricacies of Melbourne's landscape, addressing imperatives such as climate change, population dynamics, and the evolution of mobility, encapsulated within the framework of four pivotal pillars: mobility, sustainability, connectivity, and urban planning. BMW and The University of Melbourne see this competition as a platform for students to innovate and develop real solutions and contribute to solving real problems.

Group category winners 'Kindly' - Iga Wardhana, Alisna Yanni and Bryan Jonathan with the judges.

Hailing from diverse academic backgrounds, Alisna, Bryan, and Iga came to form as a team under their shared passion for creativity and future focussed design. “As international students, we saw the competition as an opportunity to push our boundaries in a new environment. The competition presented an ideal opportunity for us to actively contribute to discourse on future mobility and sustainable design.

Ashlesha saw the competition as a chance to practically apply learnings from the classroom “With my Master of International Business degree coming to a close, what better opportunity to apply what I’ve learned throughout the last two years than to create value for this gorgeous city?”

The Kindly team presenting at the YourMelbourne 2023 showcase.

The journey

Spanning two months, the competition format encompassed an information session hosted by BMW, followed by a preliminary selection round, culminating in a final showcase. Here, the top three teams had the opportunity to present their ideas to a judging panel at the BMW Australia Headquarters. Judges included Sally Capp, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Wolfgang Buechel, CEO of BMW Group Australia and representatives from the University of Melbourne and RMIT.

Aiming to address the anticipated job market growth and need for more office space in Melbourne, our group winners formulated ‘Kindly’ – “an innovative application that integrates sustainable energy generators into daily life by harnessing kinetic motion from people, water, and air to power the city with zero net emissions by 2030.” The Kindly team cited the need for thorough preparation and brainstorming to formulate their concept and identify feasible technologies in their solution.

Individual category winner Ashlesha Balyan and judges.

Ashlesha’s submission titled ‘Collective Hubs’ addressed the challenges arising from overpopulation in Melbourne highlighting issues such as a strained tram network and unaffordable housing in the CBD and inner suburbs leading to a rapid expansion of Melbourne’s rural urban fringe. “Reduced levels of convenience, safety, and liveability are incentivising people to move towards the fringe. 50 suburbs have been added to Melbourne’s fringe since 2006. The question is: where does the sprawl stop?”. Collective Hubs proposes a transformation of inner-city residential blocks to alleviate pressures of urban sprawl and encourage sustainable city living. The hubs are placed near public transport, repurposing unused space to create hubs featuring smart parking lots, affordable housing, essential services, and green spaces - all powered by on site renewable energy sources.

Feedback and learnings

Common elements among the top three submissions included a strong grounding in research, a focussed approach to select key issues, and the presentation of succinct yet impactful solutions. Effectively responding to panel inquiries and showcasing a deep understanding of issues at hand proved pivotal to their success.

Ashlesha emphasised the importance of visualisation “one of the best ways to show your vision is to create it - leave your mark on your audience and let them see how your solution would look in action.”

Positive feedback provided the Kindly team with clarity on their proposal and confidence in their ability to execute delivery. They honed their presentation skills through utilising video content and rehearsing their delivery through mock runs. Thorough preparation ensured the Kindly team’s final showcase was delivered with confidence and clarity.

Tips for future participants and looking ahead

In giving advice for future participants, the Kindly team emphasised the importance of openness to personal growth noting “We encourage you to embrace the opportunity for personal growth by tackling the challenge. Believe in yourself and focus on the practical steps required to implement your ideas. Leverage resources for technical advice and ensure your solutions are feasible and supported by evidence.”

Ashlesha encouraged future participants to utilise their creativity and strengths, advising students to “Manage your time, craft a compelling problem-solution narrative, and leverage your strengths. I embraced creativity despite having modest graphic design skills, using Procreate and Canva.”

Ashlesha at the BMW Group Australia headquarters during the immersion week.

Beyond the competition, winning students were extended the opportunity of a weeklong immersion with BMW Group Australia, affording them invaluable hands-on exposure within a dynamic corporate environment. The students noted through this experience they were able to gain unmatched access to BMW Group’s operations in Australia where they engaged in activities, met senior executives and were able to see first-hand how their ideas can impact efforts towards sustainability at BMW.

All students expressed that the competition was a valuable experience that strengthened their skills  in creativity, innovation, and resilience. The competition enhanced their understanding of the importance and complexities of tackling climate change, a growing population, and the increased need for mobility in our city.