student challenge

Expé[Nantes] is organised jointly by West Creative Industries and SAMOA – Creative Factory. This six-month interdisciplinary challenge engages students in designing and prototyping innovative solutions for the region and its future needs.

For the 2018-19 challenge, 40 students of engineering, architecture and management (ENSA Nantes, Université de Nantes / Polytech & Audencia Business School) will pool their expertise to address needs relating to third spaces: services, user-friendliness, and active management of buildings.

Thinking in-depth about third spaces

Third spaces have become a key social and economic challenge

There are more than 820 third spaces in France. These new, flexibly-organised workspaces (and also a source of friction) are having a major impact on the world of work and will significantly influence the forms that innovation takes in businesses in the future.

Although these types of space are well-established, they generate new and as yet unmet needs for users.

How will students work?

Interdisciplinary teams supported by academic staff and partners

With supervision from academic staff, several groups of students will work on two defined challenges:

  • What new services do we need to foster well-being, and relations between users, in third spaces
  • Active management: solutions for secure access in third spaces.

Students have six months to come up with creative responses to these questions; from generating ideas through to trialling prototypes. Testing grounds are located at a number of sites in the Nantes metropolitan area: the “Centrale” business centre and “Karting” business hub on the Île de Nantes (both managed by SAMO – West Atlantic Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency) and the Centre for Pedagogical Development at the Université de Nantes. To consolidate students’ work, their projects will be showcased at an exhibition and their prototypes will be used in a real-life situation.

Challenge schedule

Six months, from October 2018 to March 2019 (ideation through to prototyping)

October 2018: exploratory workshop
November 2018: development of concepts
November 2018-January 2019: prototyping of selected concepts
22 February-14 April 2019: exhibition of students work and trials at Hangar 32

From March 2019: possible support for one or more projects to fine tune their solutions


Trialling new solutions in the region

The choice of theme stems from a growing momentum in the city for public and private third spaces. The students’ prototypes could therefore address genuine needs (management and user) in existing or planned third spaces.

Testing grounds:

  • The “Centrale” and “Karting” business hubs, managed by SAMOA (West Atlantic Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency – Creative Factory).
  • The Centre for Pedagogical Development at the Université de Nantes

Two upcoming key events

An exploratory workshop to prepare the ground

Expé[Nantes] will launch on 18 October 2018 with an exploratory workshop, at Hangar 32.

In the morning, all students will meet with different experts to deepen their understanding of the concept of third spaces. The afternoon session (in workshop format) will focus on the issues involved in the challenge by getting students to work together across disciplines. Students will then come up with a number of concepts which will be prototyped and tested in situ (after selection).

Appeal for support and sponsorship

Third spaces are more than just the latest 21st-century offices. They also offer new opportunities for meeting and working together. WCI is looking for support from businesses interested in taking part in the Expé[Nantes] challenge. By offering their sponsorship, companies can help shape projects for the work spaces of the future.


Support Expé[Nantes], and play a role in developing projects that will benefit tomorrow’s world of work!




EXPÉ[NANTES] is jointly organised by West Creative Industries (WCI) and Creative Factory, (an agency for economic development), in partnership with four institutions of higher education: the Université de Nantes and its Foundation, Polytech, the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes, and Audencia Business School.  It is supported by the Pays de la Loire and Nantes Metropolitan authorities.