Unique innovation challenge technical universities

October 18, 2019
Bart van Overbeeke Fotografie

On 7 November, the final round of a unique innovation competition between the four Dutch universities of technology will be 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 has been whittled down to the 16 competing finalists in The Hague.

On the day of the challenge, the students are able to spare some time for a chat with Prime Minister Mark Rutte. At the Binnenhof – the heart of Dutch politics – the Prime Minister will welcome the finalists who will present their innovations to Mr. Rutte.

Seaweed, not steak
The young top talents will present their cutting-edge solutions before an renowned 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 developed at TU/e by team SpaceSea. Who knows, it may yet provide the solution to our global food problem. The 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 are 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. The universities 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. The 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.