At the Expo held Friday, Jan. 26, at the Dutch Innovation Factory in the Dutch Innovation Park, students from all years of the ICT program at The Hague University of Applied Sciences enthusiastically presented more than 38 innovative projects and games they worked on last semester. Many of these projects were commissioned by the business community and, after further development, have potential for actual application. The Expo thus offered an inspiring glimpse into the digital possibilities of the future.

The Expo is a worthy conclusion to the semester for the ICT students, because during the Expo they can present their projects to audiences outside The Hague University of Applied Sciences, get feedback from "outsiders," and also see what other students have been working on. The projects at the Expo are worth seeing. Companies, organizations, government and individuals can see for themselves that many innovations have potential.

At this Expo you see confirmation that Zoetermeer is an ICT city and that the slogan "Where innovation becomes reality" was not chosen for nothing for the Dutch Innovation Park. Jan Iedema, alderman of the municipality of Zoetermeer whose portfolio includes Economy and Innovation, was one of the visitors to the Expo. "It makes me proud that 800 ICT students are training here and showing their creativity. They look at problems in an innovative way and that stimulates innovation."

Winning projects

During the Expo, "awards" were given out for the best achievements in the Basic Semester and in the Innovative Development (ID) and Game Development & Simulation (GDS) sections. The winner in the Basic Semester was 'Surge': students worked on a lamppost that turns on and off when you walk or drive past it, reducing light pollution and saving on energy consumption. In the Innovative Development section, the "award" was won by "Foodboost. Foodboost is a challenge that encourages high school students to adopt and maintain a healthier lifestyle. To achieve this, students devised several interactive games that match the interests of the target group. In the Game Development & Simulation minor, the "award" went to Gummy Games and their game "Mallow Mystery. Mallow Mystery is a deduction-based detective game set in a world of candy.

The next online successfull startup

The minor "Becoming the Next Online Successful Startup" concluded during the Expo with a Pitch Contest. The students presented their startup to the jury consisting of Bowie Derwort, entrepreneur and co-owner of Game Tailors, Daan de Graaf, Innovation Mentor and Startup Coach at Rabobank, and Irma de Graaff, account manager startups & scale-ups and entrepreneurial coach at the Municipality of Zoetermeer. The Pitch Contest was won by Silver Era Transition (SET), an online platform where entrepreneurs looking to sell their business using AI are matched with promising acquisition candidates. The international group of students behind this startup, consisting of Ajin, Conor, Jason and Simone, was very honored with the award. This included not only SET's introduction to the judges' network, but also a booth during the ZIE 2024 fair, the central meeting place for technological industry in South Holland, on April 4, 2024 at the Van Nelle Fabriek in Rotterdam. The young entrepreneurs are very ambitious and intend to make SET a great success.

The judges were impressed with the level of the startups that presented. Bowie Derwort was particularly enthused by the passion with which the students had worked on their projects. Irma de Graaff was impressed that the students were able to translate a project born out of creativity into a promising market model.

GameLab

Visitors to the Expo could also learn about the GameLab's projects. The GameLab in Dutch Innovation Factory is a place where students can work on gaming-related assignments under the expert guidance of Jeroen Derwort. These assignments come from De Haagse Hogeschool and other colleges and universities, but also from the municipality of Zoetermeer and the business community. Jeroen Derwort, founder of Game Basics and Rosterbuster and creator of, among others, the highly successful Online Soccer Manager game, has been supervising HBO-ICT internships of various majors from De Haagse Hogeschool for several years. He started the GameLab to intensively guide students in the development of promising games. "Last semester I worked with 4 students on 3 projects and next semester I will even supervise 8 students. I think it is super fun to give students a boost and I notice that it is really fun for students to contribute to a game that has market potential."

Scale Booster

Because startups and new initiatives in the field of ICT are important for innovation, growth and a future-proof SME, the municipality of Zoetermeer would like to give promising startups a helping hand. For this reason, the Zoetermeer municipality is happy to cooperate with De Haagse Hogeschool and Dutch Innovation Factory, offering startups support with an account manager and sharing useful information for startups and scale-ups on the website www.scalebooster.nl(external link).