On a mission to improve the UT

| Michaela Nesvarova

‘Today is not only about our ideas, but mainly about your input on how we can make the UT even better.’ That was the start of yesterday’s University Innovation Fellows (UIF) stakeholders meeting, organized by the newest participants of the Stanford UIF program, which aims to improve the climate for innovation and entrepreneurship at universities.

‘The UIF program was started at Stanford, which has produced more than 40.000 startups, with the goal to teach other universities how to better connect with industry. UT is the first European university ever to join this program and we want to see if it can become the European UIF hub,’ explained the four UT students, who are currently trainees within the UIF program and will work towards further improving the local entrepreneurial opportunities.

All levels of the university

As the first step, the students - Elisabeth de Vijlder, Lennart van de Velde, Mélanie Droogleever Fortuyn and Sarah Roediger – organized the mentioned brainstorming session. The event took place yesterday in the DesignLab and was attended by stakeholders from all levels of the university, including Victor van der Chijs, UT rector Thom Palstra, professors, members of the Student Union and naturally students.

During their opening presentation, the student fellows addressed several issues which, in their opinion, could contribute to a better innovation climate at the UT. ‘How might we improve communication between different population segments of the UT?’ Lennart van de Velde presented the first topic. ‘Our current idea is to have a newsletter that also includes an article on decisions made by the UT board and allow students to give feedback on these decisions, for example in an online forum.’

Week of Possibilities

Another topic of discussion was how to raise awareness about opportunities available on the campus. ‘One option would be to organize a Week of Possibilities, where all UT organizations could present themselves to students,’ elaborated Mélanie Droogleever Fortuyn.

Further on, the fellows want to focus on increasing awareness of student capabilities to do work for UT. ‘Students could be hired to do various tasks at the university. For example, UT Nieuws has organized a competition for students to design their new logo. That is something that can be done more often,’ continued Van de Velde.


The last two issues the students would like to address are increasing student company interaction and putting the UT on the map. ‘The world does not know that this is a great university and that people should come here,’ think the fellows, whose presentation was followed by a team brainstorming on the specified topics and short pitches of the thought up ideas.

‘We will now further develop the ideas we had and the ideas we heard here today,’ Lennart van de Velde explains what comes next for the 2017 UIF program participants. ‘We are nearly done with our training and on the 7th of March we will present the projects we will work on in the upcoming year. And the day after we will travel to Stanford to learn more about how we can proceed.’

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