Maastricht University Challenge: stage for talent in the region

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8 March 2023

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Maastricht University Challenge: stage for talent in the region

Maastricht University Challenge: stage for talent in the region

While the first Maastricht University Challenge was already a success with forty participating student teams and twenty partners, this year's edition exceeded all expectations. Sixty teams registered, 21 qualified for a dazzling final afternoon in Maastricht where they could present their enterprise in the making.

Maastricht University Challenge is an initiative of Maastricht University's Center for Entrepreneurship and offers students and recent graduates of UM, Zuyd Hogeschool, Fontys and HAS the opportunity to present and develop their ideas for solving social issues. Roy Broersma, Operational Manager Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics: 'For us, the Maastricht University Challenge shows the potential to bring smart, motivated people together. Together we can change the world.'

The Brightlands campuses were involved in the event in various ways. Brightlands Smart Services Campus even had a pleasant surprise in store for two teams: Eetos and Altered Minds will receive a year of office space and mentoring in the Heerlen campus ecosystem.

Direct contact

The Challenge is not just the party of higher education in Limburg. More than forty partners are hooked up. Large and small companies, governments, knowledge institutions and interest groups. They sponsor the competition and provide manpower and support to the Challenge participants. 'Perhaps even more important; they come into direct contact with the students,' says Yanick Dols. 'They show what this province, this region, has to offer in terms of innovations in sustainability, health and circularity in particular. The underlying idea is that students, including international talent, stay here. Nice of course if they start a company, also nice if they start collaborating or end up in a job. As long as we can keep them. This is how the Challenge contributes to the further social development of this region.'


The emphasis is on entrepreneurship. ''The Challenge comes in three categories,'' explains Yanick Dols, working as a community developer at the Brightlands Smart Services Campus, a partner in the Challenge. 'Students with ideas for a company, participants who have already developed an idea into a prototype, for example, and startups that are ready for the next step. A professional jury assesses the potential in each category. If they see a promising company here, there are various instruments available to take the next step. As Brightlands Smart Services Campus, we are going the extra mile and giving two startups focusing on data science and artificial intelligence the chance to develop their idea.'

Live Pitches

Live pitches 

For the second edition of the Challenge, the jury judged 60 entries during Meet&Greet sessions. In each category, seven teams advanced to the "grande finale" on Feb. 15 at Rebelle in Maastricht. In the end, the live pitches before a packed auditorium were decisive and two winners were declared in each category. They can count on support from experts from academia and experienced people from the business world to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Eetos and Altered Minds

Eetos and Altered Minds did not directly fall in the prizes, but can further develop their plans at the Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen. Altered Minds establishes the link between optimal performance and mental health. Neurotechnology and data analysis should form the basis for interventions and improving performance. The startup is seeking collaboration with scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs. Eetos is working on a format to document and record a person's life. Physical media such as photos, videos and voice will be processed and combined with professionally written memories. With the help of AI and VR, the person comes to life, as it were, in a 3D video production. Thus, it becomes possible to meet a deceased person in a virtual setting. 'Two young promising teams that we are happy to include in our Brightlands family,' said Yanick Dols. 'They will have access to a desk on our campus for a year and thus access to our ecosystem, a growing network of entrepreneurs and researchers in the field of data science and Artificial Intelligence.'

Long term

The Brightlands Campuses of Maastricht (sponsorship) and Geleen (judging) were also involved in the challenge. 'We are always interested in potential entrepreneurs with ideas,' said Alex Jones, senior business developer of the Maastricht campus. 'That's why we sponsored this edition and followed the teams closely, including during the speed dates and final presentations. Our Brightlands Life Sciences Ventures fund is going into talks with some of the participants. Whether startups will come out of that right away, we don't know, of course. We are also looking at the long term and will immediately show what is possible with us.'

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