Unique innovation challenge for universities of technology

Published on
October 18, 2019

The finale of a unique innovation competition between the four Dutch universities of technology will take place in The Hague on 7 November. Last spring, the four universities of technology (Eindhoven, Delft, Twente, and Wageningen) organised their own preliminary rounds. No less than 800 students, 80 teams per university of technology, presented their pioneering innovations, which can contribute to resolving social problems. 16 finalists were chosen.

During the day of the challenge, the students will meet Mark Rutte. A number of the finalists will be welcomed by the Prime Minister in his office, het Torentje, where he will be presented with their ideas. The winner of the challenge will join a Dutch trade mission to the World Expo in Dubai.

Seaweed instead of steak

The young top talents will present their innovative technologies to an independent jury. For example, Sven Arends, student at the Eindhoven University of Technology and founder of SpaceSea, has the solution for the world food problem. Arends and his team developed a tool for remotely monitoring seaweed farms. It will reduce the cost, and it will be another step towards large-scale seaweed cultivation. Arends: “The World Bank predicts that we will need between 50% and 70% more food in 2050. Seaweed can contribute as a reliable and affordable source of nutrition. In addition, seaweed traps carbon well, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. This is the Cabinet’s central objective as described in the Climate Agreement. We are very pleased to be able to show how our tool can make a direct contribution to climate and food challenges, during the final in The Hague.”
After the preliminaries at the four universities of technology, Sven and his fellow students worked on their idea for a prototype for months. All candidates improved their innovations with the help of coaches from companies that are the leaders in their field.

Victor van der Chijs, chair of the 4TU, emphasises the importance of the challenge. “We want to remain in a frontrunner position in the Netherlands when it comes to innovation and technological development. It is essential to continue to invest in young talent and the innovations they come up with. The social significance is enormous. And companies are really looking to get in touch with young talents who can shape the future and can work well with others. This is another reason why this challenge is interesting.

Collaboration between universities of technology

The Dutch 4TU Impact Challenge is part of the general collaboration between the four Dutch universities of technology. They join forces to maximise the use of the knowledge and creativity in the technology sector in the areas of education, research, and knowledge valorisation. Students take their new knowledge back to society through start-ups and student teams. Their products and services contribute to the solution of social problems.