During the (virtual) Grand Finale of the UT challenge, we talked to the President of the Executive Board of the University of Twente: Victor van der Chijs. Below you find the short interview.
Unfortunately, we could not all come together for the final this year as the current situation does not allow us to. To start off, how do you look back so far to the past year?
Thankfully I can say, so far so good. Because I think that, as the University of Twente, we actually excelled in doing things pretty well even though the circumstances were extremely challenging. As a matter of fact, only today we published a report in which we communicated that our population is doing pretty well, despite the circumstances. I think that it has a lot to do with the inventiveness of our population. Both staff and students really made the best of it, improvised a lot, and also did not shy away from taking on experiments. Sometimes it went wrong but most of the time it went well! This is also an aspect of our very entrepreneurial mindset.
Starting back in the early 80s, entrepreneurship has played an important role. How important is student entrepreneurship for the University of Twente in 2020?
Maybe it’s even more relevant than ever. Especially in the current circumstances. First of all, I would say that being entrepreneurial is a quality that everybody needs to make it in life. Which does not necessarily mean that you need to be rich, but that in the end, you are capable of achieving what you feel is important. I spent quite a lot of time reviewing all the pitches that were already submitted and what I noticed was, quite a number of them, were not really about developing a business model but making the world a better place.
This is also precisely in the course of our new strategy, which really puts people and the world first. Being entrepreneurial also makes people better capable of making that difference. Thus already in that respect, it is really important to know how to move around and get things done. Next to that, there is nothing wrong with executing a great idea. If other people are interested or even better if people are willing to pay for that, a person can succeed and some people even become very wealthy. But in the end, it is about realising your dreams.
This afternoon you are also the chairman of the jury and you already told us a little about the participants, but do you think that you will have a tough time choosing this afternoon?
Yes, definitely. I did not make my mind up yet, and actually, it gave me a little bit of a headache. There are so many good candidates! Plus you have to disappoint quite a number of them because only a few can win. However, I'm looking forward to a great afternoon! And let's see what comes out of it. Regardless, I'm already extremely impressed by what I've seen!
If you want to watch the Grand Finale of the UT Challenge, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3V3dHldHyCY .