On Monday, October 1, 2012, social innovators, TEDx volunteers and an honorable jury gathered to pitch their ideas for change at the ING Bank Academy. The TEDxAmsterdam Award is granted annually to individuals who have big plans to make a difference.
It is only fitting within the TED framework to recognize those who are designing innovations for a better future, and TEDxAmsterdam offers a special opportunity to award winning contestants. First, 30 participants are invited to present their ideas before a panel, then they are invited to a day-long workshop to support their project, hosted by Deloitte on October 13. The grand prize that all the participants are striving for however is the opportunity to present on the TEDxAmsterdam stage during the main event November 30. Speaking at a TEDx event enables innovators to take their ideas to the next level, giving them access to an immense, new and passionate network.
The Honourable Judges
This year, the jury panel consisted of 8 representatives from our partners KPN, ING, Shell, Philips, Deloitte, TU Eindhoven, RU Leiden and McKinsey. The ever spirited and fearless leader Jim Stolze directed the day of pitching. Each contestant was allotted 5 minutes to explain their idea and leave their best impression. Judges were permitted to ask questions about each project and decide upon a score accordingly. Stolze reminded the jury prior to the first pitch that the goal is to identify ideas that are “TED worthy”, and therefore inspiring and contagious!
Professionally seated in the “Purple Room” of the ING facility, you could sense the judges’ enthusiasm and interest in each presentation. Inquiries from the jury provided clarification and practical detail about ideas. Most contestants handled the pressure very well and although you could sense some nerves, the excitement and faith in their plan to make a difference outweighed any anxiousness. I was so impressed by the wide range and imagination presented in each project – it was inspiring and comforting to know that so many intelligent and motivated individuals are addressing some of society’s most pressing issues.
Let the Pitching Begin
One pitch that stood out to me was Jan Bart Bouwhuis, who has designed “Foam Homes” to provide housing to people inflicted by disasters and in emergency circumstances. His idea addressed environmental issues, but also centered on the human aspect of providing aid to distraught communities. He wants to provide people with a nice stay when they are put out of their homes, an honorable cause indeed! Another impressive idea, the last of to wrap up the long day, was from Wouter Bruins. Wouter presented an intriguing innovation for diagnosing malaria more accurately and more effectively than existing systems and it started with a few friends at a kitchen table, fiddling with a shoebox.
The 26 other ideas showcased were each captivating in their own right, from solar CO2 converters, to pill taking devices, to nuclear fusion! Conversing with contestants was a humbling experience to be amongst so many great minds. It was incredible to witness their passion and knowledge about their projects. They expressed their hopes and ambitions to be connected to the wider TED network to propel their idea to realization. Only time will tell now who will take the TEDxAmsterdam stage, but regardless of the proclaimed winner, I am confident that each driven innovator will find success and change the world as we know it for the better!