Bas Verkaik and Tom Selten are still known as members of the student teams STORM and Solar Team Eindhoven. At the moment they are the pioneers of the new Innovation Space, the place at the university where students, employees, and people from the outside are building the solutions to tomorrow’s problems. In a weekly blog post, they keep E52 informed of their progress.

What if you merge a University of Arts, University of Business and University of Technology? That is exactly what they were wondering about 10 years ago in Helsinki. Our uncomprehensible northern neighbours then managed to establish a true University of Multidisciplinary Science: the Aalto University. In the renowned THE and QS University rankings Eindhoven is still above Aalto, but figures do not say everything. Last week, part of the InnoSpace team flew to Helsinki to take a look at our Finnish friends. And they have made it into something beautiful.

 

First of all, the Aalto University is the founder of the famous Design Factory. This is a place on the campus where interdisciplinary teams of students work on solutions for real-life challenges. What’s special about this design factory is that the successful groups (consisting of technology, design and business students) are really encouraged to further elaborate their idea as a startup. To do this they can go to a sauna. A Start-up Sauna, that is. Here, students receive guidance and a lot of funding to develop their idea into a starting company. And all this without taking up a ‘part’ of the company, something that most accelerators or incubators tend to do.

 

“What those Finns have been doing quite well is that researchers also know how to find each other”Tom Selten and Bas Verkaik, Innovation Space

If the startups then need a little more funding, they don’t have to go far from home. Last week, Slush, the world’s largest startup event, took place, which is aimed solely at connecting 2600 different startups to over 1500 investors. Not unpleasant, however.

 

What those Finns have done well for each other is that not only students work multidisciplinary. Researchers also know how to find each other. There happened to be a click between an artist and a chemist, after which they started ChemArts. By using the characteristics of cellulose (in plain words: wood) most diverse applications are developed. All this with the aim of being responsible for consumption and production and making us independent of plastic.

Of course, sometimes something goes wrong in Finland. Not every student can enter Design Factory for a long time, and many initiatives run side by side without knowing each other. But there’s still enough to learn from, for our own InnoSpace.

And there is some good news from our side as well. Two new teams have made their entry! Ares Analytics will try to predict in a non-invasive way when athletes acidify. And GoPublic uses sensors to map out all the public spaces and workplaces in Eindhoven in order to draw people out of their homes and into the public space. Reason enough to come and take a look. See you in InnoSpace!

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