Hackathon: a pressure cooker for issues from companies

40 international business students from the Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) took part in the hackathon on 25 and 26 October to discuss the current issues of ten companies based at World Horti Center.

The international horticulture sector can make a sustainable contribution to the welfare and well-being of people. The issues during the hackathon relate to current topics that are relevant, including: market exploration, market introduction, competitive equation, robotics, sensory, big data and e-commerce. During day and night the university top students, who follow the Honors Program via RSM, set to work on these issues. "In groups of 4 people, students are linked to a business assignment, which they bite into during these two days. At the end of the hackathon, the students present the results. The hackathon serves as a pressure cooker for companies to work on disclosures that can lead to improved business performance, "says Coen Hubers on behalf of Greenport Hub.

Royal van Zanten, for example, asked four students to take a fresh look at ideas for the market launch of new cut flower varieties. This assignment gave Royal van Zanten some wonderful insights. "The creativity of this group of students was enormous and it made us think about how we can shape our vision further", said Rob van der Helm, marketing & communication manager at Royal Van Zanten. "By doing this, we are closely involved in new technological developments and can also apply them in practice. That is why we invited the hackathon students for a traineeship at Royal Van Zanten to continue to develop the assignment".  

The students also responded enthusiastically to the hackathon. Pauline Liephout worked alongside three other students on a business case from Rijk Zwaan. They explored ways to expand the customer base and continue to serve current customers in the optimum way. "It was really nice to work on this assignment, because the solutions we came up with can add value for the company. When we present our research and advice to the companies it is different from presenting to fellow students because of the potential impact," said Pauline.

Greenport Hub

The interdisciplinary Greenport Hub was established in 2017 to serve as a bridge between the horticultural sector and the universities of Leiden, TU Delft and Erasmus. It is one of the knowledge and innovation hubs from the Centre for Sustainability; a university partnership formed by these universities which assembles research programmes for the horticulture sector. The Greenport Hub focuses on four themes through its research and education programme: Horticulture 4.0, Circular Economy, Health and Well-being and Sustainable Urban Delta's.

The hub is located at World Horti Center which enables students to do research or study in the heart of the horticultural sector. Together with participants of World Horti Center, the learning track provides format and content to find solutions for complex issues.