King’s Speech? Tech speech!

4TU students will share the new Tech Speech next week. Douwe de Jong represents WUR.
Douwe de Jong en Agrifood Boosters Douwe de Jong (left) and Mustafa Agbaria. Photo 4TU/Techrede

The tradition emerged three years ago. Around Princes’ Day, students from the four Dutch technical universities deliver their take on the Speech from the Throne: a Tech Speech. As ‘boosters of technology’, the students call upon policymakers and decision-makers to accelerate societal transitions through technology. They are expected in The Hague next week.

Eight times eight

Douwe de Jong, who graduated successfully from his master’s in Biosystems Engineering last month, represents WUR this year. ‘When last year’s Booster Fons Janssen asked me, I had some doubts as to whether it would interfere with wrapping up my studies’, he says. ‘And the combination is, indeed, a tough one. An intern four days a week, a Booster one day a week. But it was such a great project. You learn a lot, and it opens many doors. Moreover, you get a real kick out of seeing the impact you can make by committing for eight hours a week for eight months.’

From a different perspective

The Tech Speech topic Agriculture & Nutrition was not in the hands of two students from Wageningen this time. De Jong collaborated with  Delft TU student Mustafa Agbaria. ‘I enjoyed working with a student from a different university, who does not necessarily have the Wageningen perspective’, he says. ‘Mustafa has a different perspective on agriculture than I do, due in part to his personal background. As a Palestinian, he grew up in a country largely dependent on imported food. That changes your view on the Dutch food supply, where the shops are always full, and a wide variety of food is offered at reasonable prices.’

Knowing what you eat

The project Agbaria and De Jong worked on focuses on educating middle schoolers on food supply and innovation in agriculture. He discussed this in an interview in Resource earlier this year. Their motivation is to stimulate consumers to make better choices and to increase their affinity with sustainable agriculture.

To the undersecretary

They intend to convince the government in The Hague of their message next week when they and their fellow Boosters present the Tech Speech to the undersecretary of Infrastructure and Public Works, Vivianne Heijnen. The Tech Speech will be shared with the general public as of Thursday next week. Resource will report on the Tech Speech as soon as it becomes available.

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