Student - March 31, 2010

Where are the Wageningen warriors?

Wageningen UR students rarely participate in the Battle of Concepts, a competition for inventors of creative solutions. So it appears from the ranking lists, on which Wageningen UR brings up the rear.

Battle of Concepts is a forum on which the business world and the government set up competitions for students and recent graduates. For the Gyro Gearlooses of the world (for those who know the mad inventor of Duckworld), and with some pretty good prize money as a reward. But students from Wageningen University and VHL have not made their presence felt on the battlefield. Wageningen is very near the bottom of the rankings, with only Twente and Maastricht below it. As for VHL, it comes right at the bottom, since there has only ever been one VHL entrant, who came 916 th .  
It's a slightly better picture on the individual ranking lists. In the highest position on the national list is Emile de Zoete, who came ninth with 5020 points. It is true, though, that De Zoete graduated quite some time ago, and has no direct link with Wageningen UR any more. After De Zoete comes Nina Wassenaar, in 29 th place with 2600 points. Wassenaar is a graduate of business studies (HTS Utrecht) who works as a researcher at Food & Bio-based Research in Wageningen. She has been entering the fray since October 2008, and has already fought in 25 battles. She came first once and was among the best 20 entries seven times. Which earned her a grand total of 2600 euros in prize money.
'But I don't just do it for the money', she says. 'It's also about the kick you get from winning. I enjoy entering competitions.' The battle she won was on an assignment set by the Rabobank, to think of a way of making young people more brand-loyal bankers. 'My idea was to help young people to understand their money better, by using things like graphs. If I want to buy a scooter, how long will I have to save up? You need to make having a bank account more fun and more tangible. There is more to banking than getting a statement.' She herself thought it was 'not even such a brilliant idea'. But she did get the first prize and therefore 1500 euros.
But Wassenaar is the last person to describe herself as a Gyro Gearloose. 'I'm better at thinking up a strategic idea than in really creative solutions. I have become more selective in the battles I enter. I often get a feeling about whether I stand a chance. It has to do with how complete your story is, whether you've done your research, and whether you've answered all the questions. And of course you have to have a good, flowing story. It doesn't matter how brilliant your idea is; if you don't express it well you won't get far.' 

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