The YEAR Annual Conference 2017 was this year held in Brussels 12-13 June. During this 2-days event, professional trainers gave a hands-on training in ideation, pitching as well as collaborative and innovative thinking. For this training, YEAR collaborated with The Forge. The Forge is a training company this is specialized in innovation and efficient communication.

Solving the universal challenges

The training techniques were applied to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The participants selected 5 SDGs to work with: “Clean water and sanitation”, “Affordable and clean energy”, “Industry, innovation and infrastructure”, “Sustainable cities and communities” and “Responsible consumption and production”.

On the first day of the conference, the participants were welcomed by Walter Eevers (R&D director at VITO) and Clara Lujan (YEAR Chairman) welcomed everyone. Afterwards, a general introduction on the SDGs was given by Gaelle Janssens of The Shift, he Belgian meeting point for sustainability. The five selected SDGs and their main challenges were presented by representatives of research and industry: Bastiaan Notebaert (VLAKWA), Pieter Vingerhoets (Energyville), Geert Jacobs (Agoria), Peter Defranceschi (ICLEI), Theo Geerken (VITO).

After lunch, the participants were divided in 6 groups that had to develop an idea for one specific SDG. The afternoon session focused on idea selection and development. The team member needed to share their ideas and agree on one idea to further develop. Everyone used their unique knowledge to think along and improve the proposed ideas. The day was closed by a tips and tricks session on pitching and charismatic speaking.

The second day was dedicated to idea development and pitching. The teams did extra research to improve their ideas and started working on their pitch. The Forge assisted them with close guidance regarding pitching techniques. In the end, the groups presented their idea before the jury. The jury assessed the presented ideas on novelty, impact, multidisciplinarity and pitch quality. Our congratulations to the winning team: Priyanka Banerjee (VITO), Katrijn Dirix (VITO), Pia Olli (VTT), Palash Saha (Sintef) & Visa Vallivaara (VTT)!



Social weekend

Before the Annual Conference the participants had the opportunity to join the Social weekend. The social weekend gave the conference participants a good opportunity to get to know each other before the event, and of course at the same time have a good time! This year, Young VITO invited the participants to discover Brussels and Belgian food and drinks. On Saturday, a guided tour was followed by a social dinner. On Sunday, we visited the old neighbourhood Marolles and the Magritte museum.