Interdisciplinary wonders


When I realized I was not going on an exchange, I decided to participate in the Rethink Protein challenge. A challenge focused on new sustainable protein hosted by Wageningen University.

Since I did not have a team yet, I contacted other people that signed up alone, and we have been able to create an interdisciplinary team. With that I mean a very interdisciplinary team, with educational backgrounds ranging from philosophy to food technology to business administration, with first year bachelor students up to last year PhDs, and five different nationalities. All that in a team of ten people.

To be fair, I am as excited as I am scared. Never before did I work on a team level with so many people, or with so many people who all do something different. It really makes me wonder whether I am cut out to actually become an innovation manager, I definitely still do not feel 100% prepared. On the other hand, it is super exciting. In these few weeks I have already learned so much from my team mates. Did you know that heating potato starch results in a very interesting chemical process? Or, that plant-based burgers cost more than 20 euros in Brazil?

Furthermore, I am learning every day about how to do this, and I want to share a few things that have helped me so far. We started with a little introduction from everyone, and what everyone their expectations for the challenge are. We decided upon decision-making rules (credits to Sonja Rispens for that idea). And, what I really like, we schedule time every meeting to discuss everyone’s day or week. So we can get to know one another and we can bond. Oh, and we watched “What the Health” together, combined frustration towards lobbyists is apparently a good bonding activity.

If this story doesn’t scare you away (I hope it did not), I think you are ready to start working in an interdisciplinary team. There are plenty of opportunities to do that at TU/e (or be like me and check other universities). You can check out the opportunities at innovation Space. Maybe join a student team or an interdisciplinary course? Furthermore, I know there is an excited challenge coming up with the municipality of Utrecht through the new Eindhoven, Wageningen and Utrecht alliance. Lastly, as a final note, just try, learn from it, fail a little if needed, and mainly have a lot of fun working with so many amazing people.

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