20 February 2024
Carbyon’s first two carbon removal installations will help clean the Québec skies
In Brainport Eindhoven we change the world because here we develop key technologies that change society. We can only do that because of our pioneers. Therefore, we would like you to meet one of our pioneers: Vita Broeken.
My name is Vita Broeken. I’m 23 years old and I’m originally from Nijmegen. I lived in Eindhoven for five years, but because of corona and internship, I moved back to Nijmegen.
I’m now in the second year of the international semester of the master Innovation Management at TU/e. For this, I completed the Bachelor of Industrial and Product Design.
It’s a master of Industrial Engineering and Management. During this master, you look at how your companies innovate, which processes they go through and how they can be properly managed. It’s a creative study, but it also involves a lot of data analysis. In my master, I specialized in sustainable development. I then focus on issues such as how you can determine whether a product is sustainable and what the life cycle of a product is.
After the Industrial Design bachelor, I started working on a startup. That was very educational and fun, but there I discovered that I found the part from a company perspective very interesting. Surely that’s much more Innovation Management than Industrial Design. That’s why I did a pre-master to eventually do the master Innovation Management.
I chose the bachelor's degree because I always wanted to do something creative. I also looked at the art academy and design studies. But I also really liked physics in high school and that's how I ended up with technical studies. I liked the atmosphere in Eindhoven very relaxed, much more than in Delft. And at TU/e you work on six-month projects. That appealed to me.
In Eindhoven, you learn a lot that there’s not just one solution to a problem. I think that's a good approach to looking at things. In Eindhoven, there’s more data analysis and there’s more of a technical side to the innovation. I quite like that myself. So I decided to study at TU/e and not in Wageningen, where the perspective on the food sector is quite linear.
I worked at Upprinting Food. That arose from the bachelor's graduation project at Industrial Design of a friend of mine, Elzelinde van Doleweerd. Together we went to China to present the story: what can you do with food surpluses. That's where we came up with the idea to develop it further and we spent about a year on that. I then started my master's degree, which unfortunately could not be combined with a start-up.
Food has always been very interesting to me. One of the studies I also started looking at was Food Design, but in the end, it didn't work out. But I knew I would learn a lot from a start-up, so that was a reason for me to join Upprinting Food. It was a great opportunity and a lot of fun to do together.
When I started my master, a project in the food sector was set up in the TU/e Innovation Space. They asked me to be a student assistant for that, and I've been that way for two years now. As a student assistant, I do all kinds of things. It’s a project called ‘Food 4 health and safety, of the Ministry of Defence. In the beginning, I was mainly concerned with development, ie how we were going to offer education, together with Wageningen University and Utrecht University. It was great fun as a student to think along about issues such as how many ECTS are included, what the content should be and what the assignments should be for students. I then helped recruit students to participate in the challenge. But we also had to make the website. I did that together with a student from Wageningen. We also created newsletters, managed social media, contacted media, and so on. And as soon as the challenge had started, there was of course less work and I supervised a group of students in the subject.
Yes, I was the team leader at It’s Protein. That was a challenge from Wageningen University, where we worked with 9 people on how we can ensure that people eat more plant-based foods. We researched what information people need. We saw that people were often afraid that it would not taste good, it would be very expensive or that it would not contain enough nutrients. We have advised on this. That was a lot of fun to do.
I took part in this project of Wageningen University because I was seconded from TU/e innovation Space to the alliance TU/e, Wageningen University and Utrecht University. That’s how I came into contact with the project and was able to participate in it.
I have been active at Syfly since December 2020 and since March 2021 I have been a Promotion Manager and part of the Strategy Team. That is a bigger role than Promotion Manager. It’s a group of four people, in which we make social media posts, approach media, make videos. It's very creative and that's great fun. I joined it partly because it’s about sustainability, but also because I knew a lot of people from the team. I knew it was a nice team and I wanted to do something fun because I had the time. They use drones to look at how you can harvest food, with the idea that you can improve it. That's a very interesting project.
Ultimately, I would like to work on the sustainability part of the food chain. So very much from the innovation perspective. So: how can you spend sustainable innovation in the food sector? For example, I’m going to graduate at Ahold Delhaize in the field of social responsibility in the chain. It’s about how people and the environment are treated in different countries and different chains. I'm going to do research on that and run projects about it. I like that very much. That's the direction I want to go.
Food is something that is always there and that is very important to people. It’s quite difficult to make good choices when you consider the sustainability of food. It's a complex problem. Food chains are worldwide and there are all kinds of different problems with them. It inspires me to get started.
I would like to work in a place where I interact with people who are not part of the company. I think that's important because then your world won't become so small. I've found that I enjoy interacting with customers and people you'll be testing with. That part where you communicate with a lot of people.
I have to say that I find Eindhoven very relaxed. Everything is always okay. There’s so little hassle. It's a very nice place. There are many possibilities. It's so nice that you can do so many projects at the university for companies and organizations, such as DAF and the municipality of Eindhoven. That is the essence of education and that is great. You notice that there’s also a lot of interest in students from the region. As a student, you can make, ask and do anything. That's just fun. There are also a lot of nice student associations. You can play sports, dance, take pictures. You can do everything you like there. It's ideal.
Studying is not just about getting your degree. There’s so much to do around your study, from which you can learn a lot more than just the content of your study. Of course, you learn a lot from that, but there are also things like the student teams and student assistants. That is super fun and they are very good for your development.
When I was an ‘intromom’, (leading a group of first years during the introduction week) I also said: “It's not important that you get your degree nominally. The point is that you learn as much as possible during your study period and that you do as many things as possible. So just do that.”