Photo: Bram Saeys, 27-5-2016, Eindhoven, Nederland, Brainport DTW, Boost IQ, Challenge Track High Tech Campus

Main Photo: Bram Saeys

“What applications can you think of, where data communication through sound would come in handy? And would you market this app? This is just one of the challenges students have to reflect on during the BoostIQ Challenge Track.

Four companies (Alten, NTS Group, Philips Lighting and VDL Groep) bring in forty different cases for students who have to come up with the most creative solutions at the end of the day. The goal is to introduce companies and students to each other, but in a different way. “Companies can tell how good they are”, Richard Kerste (Brainport Development) explains. “But if students speak with staff and experience what it is really like to work for these companies, they learn a lot more.” Kerste is project manager at Brainport Development, and his responsibilities include the Talent Centre. This is a partnership between businesses, government, educational institutions and research institutions to attract and retain (national and international) talent.

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    The goal is to keep both foreign and Dutch students in the region. “There are so many state of the art jobs, it would be a shame if international students would leave immediately after their studies. We want to facilitate talent, we are constantly talking to businesses, government and research institutions to do this as well as possible.”

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    An example is the online platform Talentbox: this platform makes technical and IT talent aware of the latest developments in the Brainport region. There are internship programs, jobs, events and other useful tips. “As much useful information as possible. This shows them what is happening in this sector, including all kinds of practical matters. Like how do I get a room?”

    The challenge is a nice mix of domestic and foreign talent. “A true melting pot, just like Brainport likes to see,” Kerste says. It is the first time that this challenge is organised, the participating companies are enthusiastic. One of these companies is Alten, a company that – among other things – specialises in software for soil analysis. “In this way we can see if students fit into our company and whether they have the right qualities”, Bart van den Corput says. But it also works the other way, says Daniel Tekelenburg, a physics student. He runs an internship at Philips Healthcare and wants to get to know Alten. “This is the best way to learn how a company works; you learn how they think about certain matters and you can get acquainted with the company. I want to know if this suits me before I apply for a job. ”

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    “This is exactly why we do this”, Kerste emphasizes. “With this event we achieve much more than by just putting some vacancies on a website.”

    During the challenge the students are assisted by Roger van Meer and Lex van der Wolf. They view the group process and give tips where needed. “What you see is that the Dutch are much more outgoing and immediately take the lead”, Van der Wolf says. He is, among other things, consultant at the Innovatiefabriek. When students get stuck can’t think of another solution for a specific challenge, they may call for assistance by the two. “What you see during this day, for example, is that if they are in a very technical process it becomes difficult to remain creative. They keep remembering the conditions they were told to adhere to. I try to trigger them to break that circle.”

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    And with success; today the students break a lot of circles, Van Meer says. “The students come up with some good ideas, but we are happy to see that the companies are surprised by the high level they showed today.” Participants call it an instructive and successful day. Especially the fact that they all have different backgrounds and studies seems to have helped a lot to this. So when asked whether such events should be organised more often, the answer is no surprise: yes please!

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    Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.