A real EIT cross-KIC story

TimBrinkman

I am Tim Brinkman and at the moment I am an EIT Digital Master School student. However, I am also an alumnus of EIT Climate-KIC and EIT Food, and currently I am working on my own startup called CrashNew together with students from three EIT communities: EIT Digital, EIT Climate-KIC and EIT InnoEnergy.

During my Bachelors in technology and liberal arts and science I had to make a decision where to go for my study abroad semester. My study abroad coordinator Jan Schut from the University of Twente told me about the EIT Digital masters and he advised me to do half a year in Stockholm to get in contact with the EIT Digital community. After studying half a year in Stockholm, I became even more excited about an EIT Digital master, and therefore I decided to apply for the Data Science programme.

However, in my search for finding information about the EIT Digital community I found out more about the other EIT KICs (Innovation Communities) and their summer schools / ventures schools. As a technology and liberal arts and science student I already had a broad interest in many topics, but one of my main passions is thinking about solutions for tackling sustainability problems in different sectors. Therefore, I applied to the EIT Climate-KIC and EIT Food programmes and they gave me the opportunity to challenge myself on different topics during their programmes.

My first real encounter with an EIT event was in March 2018. At that moment, I was busy with my Bachelor thesis project about digitalisation in the food sector, the Dutch pears market specifically. During my research I was looking for more information about entrepreneurship and technologies in the food sector, and found out about an EIT Food venture school in Reykjavik. It sounded really interesting and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get to know more about the food industry. For that reason I applied and a few weeks later I heard I got accepted.

The venture school gave me the possibility to learn more about the food sector and the difficulties in this market. During the school we had the opportunity to visit and get to know more about several innovative food startups and companies. Along the week we have identified several problems in the bio marine sector and at the end we pitched an idea for catching and storing fishes on sea in a more efficient way.

Pictures from the EIT Food Venture School in Iceland


After my good experience with the EIT Food Venture School, I decided to apply for the EIT Climate-KIC journey program, which is a five-week summer school in sustainable business and innovation in Paris, Zurich and Leoben.

During the journey I got the opportunity to work with other enthusiastic students on a startup idea. I got really interested in the construction sector and the opportunities in this area. For this reason we came up with an idea to develop a software tool which helps analysing buildings and provide advice on how to re-use building materials, which we called CrashNew. At the end of the summer school we got the opportunity to pitch the idea and we even won the Audience Prize for best pitch. The team actually consists of students from EIT Digital, Climate-KIC and InnoEnergy)

Pictures from the EIT Climate-KIC journey


Due to my participation in the EIT Climate-KIC journey, I got the opportunity to give a workshop about my passion, digital sustainability, and how digital solutions can provide a more sustainable atmosphere and environment, at the EIT Alumni Connect in Budapest. I can recommend everybody to visit this event in the coming October, because it provides you with the unique opportunity to connect with other Alumni and students from the other EIT communities.

Picture from the EIT Alumni Connect


At the moment I am finishing my first year of my EIT Digital master in Data Science at Politecnico di Milano. This master is giving me the possibility to develop further my entrepreneurial skills and get a technical background in Data Science. During the EIT Climate-KIC summer school I came up with the CrashNew business idea, which I reworked and improved during the Kick-Off of the EIT Digital Master School. This new CrashNew idea won the business challenge, and I think it was a great opportunity to brainstorm with other EIT Digital people about the problems in the construction sector.

In the last months, we - as CrashNew - have validated the business model, created a prototype and found companies who are interested in using our tool. However, the idea has changed a lot after doing market research and contacting architects. Now we are developing a cloud-based software tool to connect architects and material suppliers to help them making sustainable design decisions.

This process has been supported by the EIT, for example the EIT Digital business development lab course and the EIT Climate-KIC Greenhouse programme gave me the possibility to brainstorm about the idea and get feedback, and we as CrashNew are really thankful for that support.

Pictures from the EIT Digital Kick-Off


Next year I will go for my final EIT Digital year to KTH Stockholm and then I would like to make the next step in the development of the business. We are ready for take-off! I really have the feeling we can do something, and the EIT ecosystem gives me that opportunity to explore this further.

One of the special things about CrashNew is the team, because it consists of a fully EIT cross-KIC team with people with different backgrounds. I believe in cross-KIC collaboration and I hope to attend more EIT events and try to help stimulate cross-KIC initiatives. I can recommend all the other Alumni and students to do the same. It gets you out of your comfort zone and provides you with the opportunity to learn from people with different expertise. I believe this is essential for having a good startup. Therefore, I'd also recommend people to make use of all the opportunities the EIT Alumni community offers: get out of your comfort zone and meet people who are passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation!

Tim Brinkman