Column by Robert-Jan Smits
Chair of the Executive Board of Eindhoven University of Technology
The TU/e (Eindhoven University of Technology) Contest, the winners of it were announced on July 7, is part of the annual innovation contests of the four technical universities: Delft, Eindhoven, Twente and Wageningen. The contest challenges student teams and startups to link their inventiveness to the right business mindset to find practical solutions to technological and ecological issues. As an involved partner, V.O. actively supports this initiative with advice, judging, and coaching in the field of IP.
The TU/e was a great success again in 2020, despite the contest being held completely virtually. This success is easy to explain since the contest is perfectly aligned to the unique character of the innovative region of Eindhoven (NL).
There is nowhere else in the Netherlands, EU or even the world where a university works so closely with business. So it is no coincidence that the TU/e is at the top of international lists of joint publications with businesses and of studies with the highest Industry Impact; the extent of which research in companies leads to successful innovations. Our position is of vital significance in Brainport Eindhoven in particular. Of all the engineers who have graduated in the Netherlands and are now working in this region, 83% come from the TU/e. This unique situation is largely thanks to the exceptional business culture in this region. It is a culture of mutual trust, shared interests and a strong will to innovate. What started at Philips is now almost a matter of course at many companies: an intrinsic motivation to invest in collaboration with this university.
I would like to thank all businesses that work with our university for their investments in the education and development of our talents at the TU/e. These are top researchers from the business world who offer their time as student coaches or part-time professors to intensively support students with internships, graduation and PhD programs and who put a lot of time and energy into joint research, publications and patents. And often with no direct gains in return but based on an unwavering belief in a positive pay-off in the long term.
The TU/e Contest is a model for the success of good collaboration. It is an exceptional happening during which I, like many others, are stunned time and time again by the quality and originality of the projects. This year was a very special edition: everything had to take place online instead of in physically at the TU/e campus. But, in fact, it made little difference because it is all about the projects and the proposals the teams have realized, often under immense time pressure and with enormous drive. Just like last year, I was very impressed this year, too. I have great admiration for the creativity, for the teams’ dynamics, their passion and drive to present the very best. Very inspiring!
I would of course like to thank all participants for their contributions. Together, they have demonstrated what we are capable of at TU/e when we truly combine our energy and talents and focus on a concrete result. I would specifically like to congratulate the prize winners Team ELECTUDE, GOAL 3 and FruitPunch AI. I am convinced they have a bright future ahead of them. Their win at the TU/e Contest is a great first step. I hope they will have many more!