On 7 November, the final round of a unique innovation competition between the four Dutch universities of technology was held in The Hague. Each of the competing universities – Eindhoven, Delft, Twente, Wageningen – organized its own preliminary round in the spring. No fewer than 800 students (80 teams at each university) presented ground-breaking innovations designed to help solve key problems facing society. This was then whittled down to the 16 competing finalists in The Hague. The winner of the challenge will join the Dutch trade mission to the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.
On the day of the challenge, the students were able to spare some time for a chat with Prime Minister Mark Rutte. At the Binnenhof – the heart of Dutch politics – the Prime Minister welcomed a number of finalists and was presented with an innovation box containing their ideas.
Seaweed, not steak
Further on in this issue, you can read about all the innovations developed by our young top talents. They presented their cutting-edge solutions before an independent jury. One idea is a tool for remotely monitoring seaweed farms, a cost-cutting breakthrough set to bring large-scale seaweed cultivation closer to commercial reality. Who knows, it may yet provide the solution to our global food problem. Our students also came up with new technology for cancer diagnostics, sustainable vegan products and a method to protect us from rising sea levels using eco-reefs. This is only a selection from the pioneering ideas our finalists came up with. All of them were proud to have the opportunity to show the outside world how their innovations can make a direct contribution to solving global problems.
At the forefront
Victor van der Chijs, Chairman of the 4TU Federation, is keen to emphasize the importance of the challenge. “In the Netherlands, we want to remain at the forefront when it comes to innovation and technological development. It is essential that we continue to invest in young talent and the innovations they think up. The impact they can have on society is enormous. It is also worth remembering that companies are eager to link up with young talents who can design the future and work well together. That’s another outstanding reason to take an interest in a challenge like this and follow it up in future.”
Cooperation between universities of technology
The Dutch 4TU Impact Challenge is part of a wider collaboration between the Netherlands’ four universities of technology. We join forces to make the best possible use of knowledge and creativity in the technology sector. These efforts span the field of education, research and commercial knowledge transfer. Our students channel the knowledge they gain back into society in the form of innovations and start-ups. Their products and services make a valuable contribution to solving society’s problems.
Victor van der Chijs, 4TU Chairman