Speed dating for a shot at victory at the UT Challenge prizepool

A total of 26 teams attended the speed dating event in DesignLab yesterday. As part of the UT Challenge, students could pitch their ideas and had an opportunity to network with company representatives from VolkerWessels, Rabobank, Thales and Nature 2.0.


200 students

A total of 200 students signed up for the UT Challenge which culminated in 100 projects. Of those projects, 59 made it to the first round. They got access to the provided tools such as the quick chat function on the website to ask companies for advice. A total of 158 chats have been started between students and companies. Today during the speed date there were 26 projects out of the top 40 participating in the speed dating event. 17 companies were present with a total of 64 coaches. All of it culminating in 120 speed dates.

That the University of Twente wants to present itself as an entrepreneurial University has been known for some time now. Marketing & Communication director Atilla Kerpisci on the importance of hosting the UT challenge. ‘The differentiating factor of the UT Challenge compared to other similar events is that the University is the main organizer of this event. Before the UT Challenge there were events being organized with entrepreneurship in mind but not to this extent. The focus of the event is on connecting technical aspects with societal questions.’

One student who aims to apply technology to solve a societal question is Advanced Technology student Tyrel Pantophlet (21). He is developing a smart bin to identify different types of wastes through big data. He named the project Plaex. ‘The data obtained for the bin could be used by different stakeholders to implement change’. For Pantophlet, the idea stems from personal motivation. ‘The place that I’m from, St Martin, has always struggled with sustainability and I was frustrated with it and I wanted to bring about a change’. According to him, the UT challenge offers him a platform to actively implement his idea. ‘I often struggle with multiple ideas, but talking with companies, giving interviews really concretizes my idea.’

Eco system of the UT

Kerpisci: ‘Important is the idea of students starting to enterprise instead of just entrepreneuring. The focus of this event is not on only becoming your own boss and starting your own business, but learning how organize and realize your ideas into workable solutions.’ Kerpisci further adds that students get an insight in what the eco system of the University has to offer for them. ‘Currently we have 17 great companies inside, and students get the opportunity to network and show them their value, how cool is that?’

Pepijn Beekman (31), a PhD candidate from the department of Nanoelectronics, is working on creating sensors for cancer biomarker detection. The project is called Nano Disc. According to Beekman, this is a novel technology in the field of cancer. ‘This technology would aid in early diagnosis of cancer, creation of personalized medicine and the monitoring of cancer recurrences.’ Beekman sees the UT Challenge as an opportunity to gain the necessary knowledge to build a start-up. ‘I think the different companies can really help us’.

Intrinsical motivation

Akarsh Narsepalli (22), Master’s student of Nanotechnology aims to take his project developed in one of his courses further. He developed a micro supercapacitor and hence calls his project ‘Micro-Supercapacitors’. ‘These capacitors are the size of a sugar cube and they aid batteries by basically powering up the sensors on micro-electronic devices. According to Narespalli, this project initially started out as a Design Project from one of his courses and was well-received by his professors which motivated him to participate in the UT Challenge. ‘I really hope to gain a lot from this experience.’

The UT Challenge is a platform that every UT-student can benefit from. Bring your idea to the next level, get in touch with our network and develop personal skills. Final event: June 20 with 20 one-minute-pitches.