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The Dragon’s Den – the first real test of the projects

The Dragon’s Den, hosted on 9-11-2023, was without doubt one of the most educative events in the development process of the Da Vinci Project. After seven weeks of working alongside different stakeholders, the students had the chance to present the first prototypes. The different challenges are all in need of a creative solution which the students had to come up with after weeks of analysing the issues related to these challenges and the knowledge gained from the design-thinking classes. The first moment to test these projects was at the Dragon’s Den as the first prototype of the out-of-the-box solutions were to the experts.

The Dragons

  • Bert Weckhuysen, a professor in Inorganic Chemistry & Catalysis at Utrecht University. In 2018, he assumed the role of Distinguished University Professor ‘Catalysis, Energy & Sustainability,’ solidifying his reputation as a leading figure in the world of catalysis and sustainability.
  • Madelijn Strick, a social scientist and an expert in the field of social influence, communication, and behaviour change. Her main objective is to increase the connection between science and society to solve sustainability problems of any scale and nature. She provided a lot of interesting insights and critique in the field of psychology.
  • Marit Farenhorst, an entrepreneur with a PhD in Medical Entomology. As co-founder and director of In2Care, she analysed the prototypes from the investor point of view.

The event

This event was prepared by a group of students who together organised this event and made sure the event was time oriented. They invited the dragons to the event and befort the actual session started the dragons were greeted with a quick diner to be able to meet each other.

The take-off of the event was at 18:15. As per usual, we started the event with the check-in. Then, the dragons were introduced to the students and the rules and structure of the event were explained. Then, all six groups presented their prototype. After every presentation the dragons explained their critiques on the prototypes and a discussion including the whole group evolved. During this time one of the students who prepared the Dragon’s Den was the mediator who kept track of time and stepped in the discussions.

Looking back at the event

Now a week after the event I asked a couple of students to reflect on the event, here are some of their opinions.

“I learned from the criticism we as a group received from the dragons and I liked that the dragons were very involved in this event.” – Joep Imming

“This event was very well organised, I learned a lot from the Dragons Den!” – Tess van de Bleek

“The dragons were very interesting and had good criticism on our project, they are very critical but fair. This strict criticism resulted in good insights for our project” – Alonso Aravena Arellano

I can say with confidence: we all learned a lot from the Dragon’s Den.

This article has been written by Job Canoij, Da Vinci Project 2023-2024 student