The YEAR Annual Conference 2016 was this year held in The Hague 18-19 April 2016. The first day of the event concerned the topic of Open Innovation, and the second day was reserved for a project idea competition.

The first day of the event concerned the topic of Open Innovation, and the second day was reserved for a project idea competition.

The topic was Open Innovation

On the first day of the conference the YEAR Chairman, Clara from AICIA, welcomed everyone and introduced the YEAR network. She was followed by Albert van der Steen, manager of EU affairs at TNO, who welcomed us all to the city and TNO. He stated that indeed the conference helps to fulfil TNO’s motto We connect people. Later, Kirsi Haavisto from the European Comission (Innovation policy unit) talked to us on the three priorities for R&I in Europe, namely Open innovation, Open science, and Openness to the world. She also helped the participants to understand how the use of prizes can be used to incentivise innovation.

From the next speaker, Job van de Kieft from TNO Companies (he’s also an entrepreneur starting up his own company), we learned how ideas can be turned into business. He challenged us to make contact with potential customers at an early stage, and gave examples on what questions to ask  and not to ask in that process.

The next speaker in line, Erik Ronne, Open Innovation Manager at SP Technical research institute of Sweden, gave an enthusiastic presentation explaining the concept of open innovation (OI). It was clear that he thinks this topic is highly interesting! He visualised the concept of OI by using pens and their caps, explaining both the pros and the cons about Open Innovation.

In a session after lunch, Julius Berens, trainee at TNO – Mobility of knowledge, first talked to the group about mobility being a key to international success. Secondly, Jacob Westerlund, founder of Sqore reminded us that researchers often think that “the lab is our world”, and he challenged us to rather think that “the world is your lab!”. He also explained his company’s job of helping other companies run their innovation competitions.

The first conference day was finalised with a “fishbowl conversation” with the four last speakers, with questions from the audience on Open Innovations, business development and other related topics.

18 of April was rounded off with a social dinner together with EARTO at Mauritshuis. Great food, nice drinks, good company and fabulous art made this an evening to remember!


Project idea competition

The second day, Tuesday 19 April, was dedicated to a project idea competition. The competition was performed in two stages. First all thirteen project idea proposers presented their idea to the rest of the participants. After an initial round of voting, the four most popular ideas was selected for a second round where small groups of conference participants collaborated to develop the idea. The lucky four were Serina Ng from SINTEF, Teemu Mutanen from VTT, Sven Hermansson from SP and Karolien Vermeiren from VITO.

After this the four project idea owners were responsible for presenting their idea and concept more in detail, before the winner was selected by a jury consisting of two speakers from day one, plus a representative from the YEAR board. Our congratulations to the winner – Sven Hermansson from SP!

Social weekend

Before the Annual Conference the participants had the opportunity to join in on 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, JongTNO invited the participants to the Spring Beer Festival followed with a social dinner on Saturday. On Sunday we had a nice guided tour around the city, a common lunch, and a visit to one of the Hague’s art museums.