Main summary

On Friday 15 April TEDxDelft celebrated its fifth anniversary in style with a great line-up of speakers, a large variety of side activities, and of course with the audience. Whether you were at the event in person, watched the livestream, or kept a close eye on the social media and blog, we hope you all enjoyed the interesting ideas that were presented to you. But it need not stop there. If you heard an interesting idea share it with friends, family and colleagues; keep celebrating the universal genius and keep spreading ideas worth sharing.

For those who missed out on any of the talks, or if there is simply a talk you want to watch again, the videos will be available on YouTube within five to seven weeks.

We hope everyone had a great time at TEDxDelft 2016, and look forward to seeing you again at our next event: TEDxDelft Stories, on Thursday 26 May. Keep an eye on our social media and blog for more information.

BORI8057“Everyone is a non-believer, one way or  another. Everybody on the stage today is challenging an already existing idea. Being inconsistent is the third biggest religion in the world,” claimed Boris van der Ham.

Born in Amsterdam, Van der Ham found an interest in drama and arts and was a part of various theater groups performing in Maastricht. Later switching to politics, which became his forte, he has served as the President of D66, a Dutch liberal democrat party, a member of the House of Representatives and the chairman of the Dutch Humanist Alliance. He is currently a writer and holds an important role at the Dutch Humanist Association. Van der Ham has been working extensively on the ideologies of freedom thinkers.

Van der Ham feels that because of their unique or so-called contrasting ideas to the rest of the society, non-believers are challenged in every walk of life. He is critical of the offense and aggression shown towards non-believers in most countries. He feels that peaceful coexistence also involves respecting those different beliefs. “It is human nature to question things. Every idea should be challenged,” he said. As a humanist, he feels everyone’s choice and thinking should be respected and given an equal place.

“The right to be a non-believer reflects our freedom. It makes our lives better,” he said. He therefore challenges them to be confident with their inconsistency and that it is a right to cherish.

TOON8020Toon Lobach’s dance style was introduced by TEDxDelft presenter Umar Mirza as “jumpy with unexpected turns and twists which work well with the industrial music to which he dances”.

This description was underscored by Lobach’s dramatic entrance via the top tier of TU Delft’s Auditorium which was hauntingly combined with industrial music, jaunty modern dance moves and a striking pair of light blue contact lenses.

His selected choreography evoked at times anger, powerlessness and a desire to protest and challenge the status quo. Dancing among the audience members in a haze of blue light on his descent into the hall and ascent to the podium, Lobach’s choreography gave a stunning preview of the talent and fearlessness of the Nederlands Dans Theater 2’s new apprentice for the 2016-2017 arts season.

Despite training for four years with the 5 O’Clock Class, the preparatory course in modern dance at de Theaterschool, Lobach had no definite dance dream. Everything changed when he saw Nederlands Dans Theater in School of Thought, by Sol León and Paul Lightfoot, in 2013. His recollection of that moment was how phenomenal the piece was. He thought “that’s where I have to go!”

Nevertheless, the extremely talented Lobach went for his goal pursuing classes with the 5 O’Clock Class, his regular schooling and ballet classes with the National Ballet Academy. As a student in the National Ballet Academy’s pre-professional program Lobach is also taking classes with de Theaterschool, including Modern Theatre Dance and Urban Contemporary.

ESTH7984“I do love my freedom more than anything in the world. We all do!“ said Esther van Fenema. But is unlimited freedom actually a good thing?

Van Fenema was a musician to begin with. She studied violin at the Conservatory of Amsterdam before she moved to Belgium to pursue her interest in medicine. She then began to practice her profession in the Netherlands. She eventually decided to specialize and became a psychiatrist at the Leiden University Medical Center, also continuing to explore her music interests. “There is always a misunderstanding of psychiatric disorders,” she said. “The World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the biggest disease in 2020. It is high time we change our lifestyles to make the right choices.”

Van Fenema had always marveled at the lack of knowledge in accepting that the brain is a working mechanism. She reasoned that we therefore often misunderstand our freedom. “Freedom is very precious. But without boundaries, freedom becomes a risk factor,” she pointed out. Van Fenema is critical of the choices people are tempted to make,  where there are no boundaries. “Not all are born to be free,” she said. “Some of us are more vulnerable than others.” She said that we need to make sure that this will not lead to unfulfilled lives or depression.

Calculated decision making in important life choices, reaps the best benefits of our freedom. “I have always enjoyed the freedom to follow my passions,” she said. “We have to formulate our boundaries, rather than overlooking the limits, with the slogan of unlimited freedom. Because we are responsible for each other.”

BEAT7968“What is the very first thing you want to do every morning, right after you wake up? I could be honest and say ‘kiss my husband’, but the truth is I am ready to go to work. I enjoy every day being surrounded by science and microscopes!” declared Beatriz Seoane de la Cuesta at the opening of her talk about nanostructured porous materials.

The fact that few of us have heard of these little phenomena is rapidly about to change as science and technology explore the potential of these materials to tackle global societal challenges such as climate change, pollution, and the ongoing task of satisfying society’s high demands for energy in a sustainable manner.

Consider the combustion of coal and natural gas that we use to produce the energy we need, creating tiny molecules. These gas molecules have different sizes, making gas separation difficult and expensive. But what if there was a way to filter them? Enter the nanostructured porous materials. Imagine a sponge with holes perfectly ordered and very small, the size of different molecules. Nanostructured porous materials have a perfect order and structure at the nanoscale, one million times smaller than the tip of a pen, and yet they can be used as a molecular sieve to filter the tiny molecules.

The main obstacle Seoane observes in the effort to realize the potential of nanoporous materials is the issue of their “processability”, a key property in material science. Traditional tools cannot be used to process nanomaterials. But nature might offer help. Consider bones – two materials compose them, but as they are extremely ordered there is an extraordinary design. Bones can be 3D printed for bio-medical purposes, meaning that it could perhaps be possible to print these nanomaterials as well.

We could be closer to a cleaner atmosphere and more efficient use of the resources we have. “So let us follow our passions,” she said. “Tiny things can solve big problems.”


FUNK7874“We dare you to stay put when we play, we guarantee you it’s impossible.” A well-posed dare. Vibrance, vigor, verve, this is what funk is about. All music is dance music, but it is these elements that make dance an unforgettable experience.

Amsterdam Funk Orchestra has indeed pulled this off in style the past few years since its inception in 2014.  A ‘Make it Yourself’ ambition has been their asset in making successful and enthralling music. They have given big band music a new dimension through their funky music with a formal outlook. “Funk is not something you can talk about and then get it, you need to feel it. Rarely do you get the opportunity to feel it and understand it at the same time,” they explained.

“Funk literally means something that smells.” Bonding with the audience for 15 minutes, they went about their orchestrated music mechanics in an overwhelming fashion and were spot on in making their challenge a difficult task. With a strong theme, they went all the way from making us smell the flavors of their music recipe of the day – The Funky Sandwich – and even managed to squeeze in a nod to James Brown.

As the saying goes, “If it is not hard, it is not worth doing it”. And the Amsterdam Funk Orchestra delivered their mechanics in harmony and style, getting the audience out of their chairs in the process.

ROWL7822“For as long as I can remember, I believed that confidence was the answer to everything. The lure of it was irresistible,” said Rowland Manthorpe, journalist. He decided to write a book on the philosophy of it. However, he lost his own confidence in this long process and has since come to believe that “confidence is seriously flawed as a goal.”

After attaining a bachelor’s degree in history at Cambridge University, Manthorpe enrolled at the London School of Economics. Completing his master’s studies on political theory, he became a freelance journalist. Confidence has fascinated him since his studies: “You notice things more when they are gone, and how crucial they can be.” The main source of inspiration for his own view on it: the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Confidence connects to all aspects of daily life such as money and gender. Nietzsche’s bottom line was about the need for self-expression and creativity. He himself was a very lonely person, his success not being recognized during his lifetime. In current society we are drawn to the dream of confidence. “We are all Nietzschians now,” said Manthorpe. If we make a goal out of achieving confidence, we approach everything in life individualistically. It can lead to loneliness, heartlessness and instability, and thus unhappiness.

Instead of doing it by himself, he wrote the book together with his wife. It was no longer something he achieved on his own, but it still became a reality. Finally, Manthorpe discovered the truth about confidence: “It is a game with no end. The only way to win, is not to play.”

SEBA7741“Each year around 15 million people are being diagnosed with cancer. Radiation therapy can cure some of them, but unfortunately has side-effects,” said Sebastiaan Breedveld. He thinks that rather than developing new technologies, using the current ones to their full potential should be the goal.

Born and raised in Rotterdam, Breedveld has been passionate about healthcare and science since he was young. Majoring in mathematics at the Delft University of Technology, he still wanted to connect his knowledge to healthcare. At Erasmus Medical Centre, he continued with a PhD in medical physics, focusing on radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy cures patients by focusing a large dose on the tumor. Close to it, however, are healthy organs which could get damaged as well. This can significantly reduce the quality of life. Based on a patient-specific wish list of 20 to 30 items, an experienced physician has to decide upon the treatment. The goal: retaining the best quality of life possible. Does a human being have to decide this? “Some will be treated worse. And this could be you,” he said.

Costs limit the development possibilities of new technologies. The solution: planning by automation. Mathematical models are faster at evaluating all possible treatment plans and yield results at least as good as the physicians’ ones. Breedveld stated that next to new ways of treating patients, we have to improve quality without increasing costs: “A win-win-win situation.”

KEVI7648“What is the economic value of the creative?” Kevin de Randamie asked. Economic value and creativity, a combination of words not often seen. Nevertheless, De Randamie believes it necessary for the creative industry to start considering it.

De Randamie’s big passion has always been music, as a hip-hop artist and an entrepreneur. During his time working in the creative industry, De Randamie has seen and experienced many things which have shaped his vision about the creative industry as a whole. “I was doing well, releasing my own music as well as that of others,” he recounted. That is until 2010, when the government announced spending cutbacks to the arts and culture and he, along with much of the creative sector, took a big hit, going as far as selling equipment to make ends meet.

De Randamie is fascinated by the fact that “the creative industry is the only industry that does not require resources to create value.” And yet the perceived economic value of the top 20{95388bbb2e9df0f2b3d26445fc24fe82185b1b567dbb094bc3a45074083d0a2b} of performing artists seems exaggerated while that of the remaining 80{95388bbb2e9df0f2b3d26445fc24fe82185b1b567dbb094bc3a45074083d0a2b} is largely discounted, discredited or ignored. He is convinced that his lessons from difficult times have led to a solution that could help the 80{95388bbb2e9df0f2b3d26445fc24fe82185b1b567dbb094bc3a45074083d0a2b} get out of the shadows. De Randamie proposed that artists should obtain the business acumen to ensure financial stability so that they do not need others to take care of their finances. By developing these skills the creatives will go against the grain and become the most impactful creatives of our time in their own right. Developing these skills will be the best investment one can ever make.

JESS7618“What would you think if  I said my hobby was sex?” asked Jesse Willis. “Why is sex such an awkward thing to talk about?”

Willis is an active student at TU Delft, doing his bachelor’s in industrial design engineering. He was the 2016 winner of the TEDxDelft Awards. When asked how he would describe his TEDx experience so far, he said, “It just started as a fun conversation with friends, when I said, if I ever speak on a TED stage, I would talk about sex. Here I am today.” Jesse is really concerned about people’s reluctance to talk about sex.

Sex is still a taboo in most households. Willis feels that sex is more than a hobby, but at the same time, not a topic easily talked about. ”We all like sex the most. The best way of learning about something we like is to talk about it,” he said. The hesitation that people exercise in voicing their opinions brings about a big restriction in a person being himself and being open minded.

He observed that most of our self-evaluation and personal learning is lost in the process. “We must share opinions and end up becoming better with our understanding of sex,” he said. The process of change is never easy, but to be ready for it is an important first step. “Let us be open and honest in our expression and learn from our experiences,” Willis said.

JASP7527A researcher and designer by training, and a comedian and columnist by profession, Jasper van Kuijk’s first appearance at TEDxDelft was five years ago, a mere three days following the premature arrival of his first child. He fondly recalled the moment as one inspired by large doses of caffeine and adrenaline.

Originally from The Hague, Van Kuijk studied Industrial Design Engineering at Delft University of Technology, returning as a PhD candidate and more recently Assistant Professor.  However, a theater and comedy course inspired Van Kuijk to join a comedy troupe and, when the group later disbanded, become a solo artist.

And as an educator, experienced performer, and public speaker, Van Kuijk felt certain that he should easily be able to drum up a suitable idea for TEDx Delft 2016 but was surprised to find he struggled. That was until he was reminded of a recent performance with his band. When asked to do the performance in English, Van Kuijk’s response was: “We only performed that set four times, as an experiment with an audience of 400 people, in Dutch, that’s a really crazy idea. OK, let’s do that!”

Today’s experimental musical performance – now translated into English and performed in front of an audience of 1100 people – embodied the sentiment of doing at least one scary thing on a daily basis. Van Kuijk’s music connects experiences of growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, discovering how your side of town has not changed despite your own evolution, and how “death makes a home in the little things”.

In the spirit of celebrating the universal genius, some lyrics from one of the numbers performed to remember:

“We now have more knowledge

Than we can comprehend

But it seems we’ve forgotten

It’s a means to an end

Love needs no reason.”


KIZA7488Kiza Magendane, writer and student, showed a picture of himself sitting next to a canal with an overwhelming smile. He asked the public an intriguing question: “Who would adopt this refugee? It is all for free. And I guarantee, you will not regret it.”

Born in Congo, Magendane entered the Netherlands as a refugee himself eight years ago, fleeing from the civil war. After finishing high school, he attended the University of Amsterdam, majoring in political sciences. He got involved in several associations focusing on bridging the gap between people with different backgrounds. Being a writer, he shared his opinion on Africa, politics and migration. Based on his own experiences, he founded African Students United.

Because everything is new, most arriving refugees do not feel at home at all. The recurring questions about how they got here, and why they left their country, are rather hard and personal. Moreover, refugees are often associated with negative images. Magendane felt he had to prove himself to be accepted as a human being: “Reducing a human to a number, takes their dignity away.” However, some people looked beyond the refugee label and supported him in developing a normal life.

Magendane believes he is not unique, and with the support of citizens, more success stories can be created. Magendane mentioned several people he met after arriving in the Netherlands who welcomed him, and encouraged and inspired him to achieve the best that he could. He encouraged everyone to do the same: “Home is relative, love is universal.” The government does not provide love, but citizens do: “Fellow human, adopt a refugee.”

VICT7390“You are in class and really bored looking around, and you are not the only one,” said Victor Hupe. As a high school student, he also started drawing figures, which can all lead to new ideas. He advocated for learning-by-making to combine education and creativity.

Hupe, the youngest genius of the event, has been drawn to science since he entered high school. Unfortunately, after the third year he could no longer attend science class, but when the opportunity came up, he made an extracurricular activity out of it. Joining the fabrication class, or FAB class, he created a wooden bike and a confidence-increasing cup for children, and much more is to come. In the near future, he wants to join the Faculty of Industrial Design at TU Delft.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventiveness was instigated by the freedom to create. Nonetheless, learning new things by making has progressively been pushed to the background. Hupe supports Google’s 20{95388bbb2e9df0f2b3d26445fc24fe82185b1b567dbb094bc3a45074083d0a2b} rule: employees can work one day a week on their own ideas and creations. Nowadays, FAB classes allow students to develop their ideas step-by-step. Thinking, drawing, processing new thoughts, rethinking old ones. Hupe learnt that “you don’t always succeed immediately, which forces you to re-evaluate.” After a year of redeveloping and optimizing, his bike was finally ready.

For Hupe, being critical towards his own work and optimizing it has become a mind-set. He became even more focused in class, and reflected on his creations outside class hours. He encouraged everyone: “Create, and most importantly: never give up. Let us make the world a better place.”

NIEL7323“Books transport you to places you have never been and can transport you into another person’s head. These experiences were so great, I wanted to become a writer,” said Niels ‘t Hooft. “However, we don’t have the time to read as much as we want to anymore.” He carried a chest full of abandoned reading material on stage with him, expressing his worry about the future of the novel.

‘t Hooft is a journalist and fiction writer, who started out his career building a website about video games. A published author of three novels and a number of short stories, his love for technology has never left him. He calls himself a ‘hybrid author’, and combines his love for both writing and technology by working on story development and direction, and the creation of fantasy worlds in which games are set.

He believes that more than time constraints, the smartphone is the main reason we are not reading novels anymore. But could it be the solution too? “A smartphone can store thousands of books, and we read on it already,” said ‘t Hooft. He shared three suggestions to integrate novels and smartphones. The first is an alternative interface which shows just one piece of text at a time, what he called “a hybrid between the dynamism of scrolling and the staticism of paper.” The second is making better use of the stereo sound and color screen, to give the reader pointers as to where he is in the setting of the story, for example. The third is an app to track the way people are reading his novels, creating two-way communication with his audience.

“I want to help to make literature more relevant in this digital age,” said ‘t Hooft. “Not waiting for the future to happen, but help shape it. Creating an experience for other people that is unique to me.” Perhaps that is too grand a goal, so for now, he advised the audience to: “Find a quiet place, shut down all your devices and read a novel.”

Karin de Groot talk“I have been on television, radio and stages for my entire working life; and it still petrifies me,” said Karin de Groot, presentation coach. As an experienced media figure, she has a message: disregard the rules, be spontaneous.

De Groot graduated from the Academy of Journalism in Tilburg. For the past 27 years, De Groot has been interviewing people, presenting on television and editing radio shows. Nowadays, she hosts a daily show of her own. She strived for perfection, and took lessons to drop her accent. After ten years, a famous Dutch talk show editor told her: “You are doing a perfect job, but you are not a human being.” Combining this lesson with her own experience, she decided to become a presentation coach herself.

Everyone knows the rules like not crossing your arms, keep hands out of your pockets, and don’t run around. Yet people like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Jamie Oliver all break these so-called rules. The message they convey remains just as strong, and their audience is just as captivated.

“Perfection isn’t sticking to rules, it is discovering your own rules, your personal perfection!” said De Groot. Showing fragments of amazing TED talks, she proved that it is ok if you stutter, if your face turns red, if you don’t reach ‘perfection’. People should stop thinking about what they are saying, and instead simply: “Talk, don’t present.”

For those who were unable to attend TEDxDelft will be live streaming the entire event, so you do not have to miss a minute.

Click here to go to the livestream and come celebrate the universal genius.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAbqAAAAJDYzYzY2ZTJkLWMyZDItNDg2ZC1iMjNjLTUxZWY2OTNmZmUxMQImagine travelling close to the speed of sound in a small capsule within a tube, while lowering the carbon footprint. It might sound outlandish, but one day this could be the mode of transport. Tim Houter, team leader of the Delft Hyperloop project, is eager to tell all about it.

It was Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, who came up with the Hyperloop Competition. He challenged  people from all over the world to come up with their own design and ideas. Among them was a group of 30 talented TU Delft students, led by Houter. Being a Mechanical Engineering student, he worked for two years on the Formula Student Team of the university. Now, he motivates and steers the ambitious Hyperloop group with one ultimate goal: “Winning this competition.”

They are well underway, having earned entry to the Californian testing site recently. “Transportation is one of the biggest energy consumers of the world. Hyperloop is the next mode of transportation, preferably made in Holland,” says Houter.

TEDxDelft is delighted to invite Houter to the main stage on the 15th of April for a short interview.

TEDxDelft is proud to announce Vodafone, one of the world’s largest mobile service providers, as one of its partners for the upcoming event on Friday 15 April. Their goal: inspire the main event’s visitors by showing off the plethora of possibilities using mobile technology.

“Vodafone reflects on how mobile technology can improve society and wants to be a facilitator for innovation,” said Annelies Valk, Marketing PR Manager at Vodafone NL. After being the first to enable payments and OV check-in by smartphone on the Dutch market, they now want to make your cycling journey safer and smarter.

As an innovator, Vodafone will demonstrate their brand new Smart Jacket at the event. To make a long story short: connect your smartphone to the jacket, and it will show you and other road users where you are heading to. The LEDs on your back and sleeves show when you want to go left or right.

Vodafone is also looking at what mobile technology could bring to the future. “When ‘celebrating the universal genius’, Vodafone also wants to engage with the Da Vinci’s of tomorrow!” explained Valk. Do you have your own smart idea for the future of mobility? Make sure you join Vodafone’s scientific panel discussion during the event. Or are you curious about the Smart Jacket? Buy your ticket now, and check it out yourself on Friday 15 April.

On Friday 15 April TEDxDelft will host its main event at TU Delft starting at 13:00, when it will celebrate its fifth anniversary. 15 April also happens to be the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, so it is only fitting that the theme brings the two together: to celebrate the universal genius.

Speaking of universal, the variety of the talks most certainly is: from storytelling to healthcare, and from confidence to the creative industry. For more information on the speakers visit the speakers section on the TEDxDelft home page. And then there are of course the many side events.

So buy your tickets now, come join us on 15 April and share some brilliant ideas.

We also have an app for our event, click here to download it to your smartphone or scan the QR code below.

QR code for app


Anyone who has visited a recent TEDxDelft salon, cinema, or storytelling event will have seen various brightly colored posters with images that remind one of a famous Italian inventor. Responsible for these wonderfully designed posters is Tobias van Veen, Lead Designer at TamTam, a full service digital agency.

For an event of the size and scope as that of TEDxDelft promotion is an important part of increasing visibility. For this year’s event, Van Veen drew his inspiration from the event’s theme: Leonardo da Vinci. “He was a designer, artist, and inventor all at the same time, and given TEDxDelft’s strong ties with the Delft University of Technology, I decided to focus on his inventions more so than just his art,” van Veen explains. His aim was to take his works and bring them into the modern era, which he did together with Suzanne van den Berg, who worked as a design intern at the agency at the time.

“I wanted to find the simplest forms in which you could reference the works of Leonardo da Vinci,” he says. To achieve this, Van Veen drew his inspiration from artist Tom Claasen. “For his images he goes in search of the most primal forms of different objects.” The aim was to bring the shapes down to their very essence, without losing any of its recognizability.

One of the main challenges of designing the posters was to do so in such a way that when considered individually it might take a bit to recognize the image. “Every poster is like a riddle, a puzzle,” van Veen explains. “Find the reference to the works of Leonardo da Vinci.” It is a job which Van Veen found challenging, but tremendously fun to do as well. “We always get a lot of freedom to do what we feel is good.” And he most certainly delivered.

Find the sophistication in the simplicity of the posters at TEDxDelft on Friday 15 April. Buy your tickets now, and come celebrate the universal genius.


Boris van der Ham 2“Our freedom feels a bit self-evident,” Boris van der Ham, humanist and writer, says. Though to obtain this freedom people had to fight. There are places in the world where people fight for this freedom and they deserve our support. But who exactly are they?

Van der Ham was born in Amsterdam, where he would later study history. He switched to the Maastricht Academy of Dramatic Arts, after which he worked as an actor at various theatre groups. But the appeal of politics was stronger, after being the president of the youth section of D66, a Dutch liberal democrat party. He worked as a parliamentary assistant for both the European and Dutch parliament and was elected several times as a a full-fledged member of Dutch parliament, where he stayed for ten years. At present, Van der Ham is a writer and is chairing various organisations, such as the Dutch Humanist Association. Last year he made the documentary ‘Among non-believers’.

“In parts of the world the fight for freedom is still ongoing,” van der Ham explains. There are people who think differently from what is conventional where they live. It is a cause Van der Ham has been closely following and involved with. “Because they think differently from the main religious or ideological viewpoint their lives are threatened, both socially and judicially.”

Over the past couple of years, Van der Ham has been working more and more on freedom thinkers. “It is fundamental for a peaceful society that the right that one can be different is acknowledged and respected.” For his talk, Van der Ham will discuss what he calls ‘non-believers’. “It is an increasingly larger group in the world,” he says. “In one way or another everyone is a ‘non-believer’, regardless of whether one is religious or atheist.” But then the question remains: who or what is a non-believer, and what do they do?

Curious to learn how Boris van der Ham has come to redefine non-believers? Then buy your tickets now, and come join us on Friday 15 April to celebrate the universal genius.

Daan Verlaan 2“All of my life I have been a generalist rather than a specialist,” said Daan Verlaan, music artist, “But it took me up until my time at university to realize that.” One of the missions he has embarked on is “to prove that medieval music is just as interesting as any music”. Nonetheless, he hadn’t got in touch with it before he started working in Belgium. “At Dutch conservatories, there is generally little interest in music from before 1500,” he said.

After high school, Verlaan started his Greek and Latin studies at Leiden University. Even during his graduation on Greek tragedy, his generalistic nature resulted in linking different levels within it to each other rather than focusing on one specific aspect. “During my master’s studies I got more and more into music, especially composing,” he said. “That’s why I started with an additional bachelor’s degree in contemporary classical composition at Codarts in Rotterdam.” Following his second graduation Verlaan decided to make a career out of making music. As a choir singer, soloist and harp player, he performed different genres in both the Netherlands and Belgium. Four years ago, he became a guest teacher at the Brussels Harp Centre.

In addition to being a performer, Verlaan was also a tour guide at the Boerhaave Museum for the history of science and medicine for more than a decade. “Da Vinci combined both science and art, always looking for the essence and the beauty of things,” he said When being asked why he thinks he got invited to the TEDx stage, he hesitates: “Mainly because of my way of thinking at the meta level, being a musician as well as an academic.”

With two diplomas to his name Verlaan could have pursued a PhD, but decided to compose music, for which he was awarded on multiple occasions. “But after [composing for] some time, I wondered: ‘What do I really have to say?’,” he said, after which he focussed on playing rather than writing new music. It seems to him that people consider art as a consumer good rather than a way of expressing something universal with the artists acting as a conduit. “But artists are not only ‘beautifiers’, music is not solely aimed at alleviating.” One of the reasons why he also talks in-between songs during his performances is to emphasize this. “That even holds true for pop music!”

Do you want to know why? Then buy your tickets now, join us on Friday 15 April and come celebrate the universal genius.

Rowland Manthorpe“I have always been interested in confidence, to me it seems to be some sort of secret ingredient.” To Rowland Manthorpe, journalist, confidence is something which has fascinated him for many years now. Through personal experience he has created his own unique understanding of confidence.

Manthorpe studied at the University of Cambridge, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History. He then went on to the London School of Economics, and finished with a Master of Science in Political Theory. Upon finishing his master’s he became a freelance journalist, writing for a variety of newspapers. After several years of freelancing he became involved with a consultancy, as a writer and op-ed editor. In the years since, he has become an associate editor for a well-known tech magazine, founder of the Think Tank review, and has co-written a book together with his partner Kirstin Smith to be published later this year.

“Confidence is like a mysterious force that can do almost anything for you, make anything better,” Manthorpe said. Confidence is a concept that has fascinated him since his time at university. During this time there was a period where he had lost his confidence, and it was because of this that he got thinking. “You notice things more when they are gone, and how crucial they can be,” he said of this period in his life. For Manthorpe losing confidence was what opened his eyes to this, and made him think of this topic, and how it could be perceived.

A major influence for Manthorpe that shaped his views on confidence was well known philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. “The more and more I read of Nietzsche, the more I started to realise what he was actually talking about was confidence,” he explained. Nietzsche wrote about self-expression and creativity, about the forces you feel. “These beliefs are commonplace nowadays, but they were not during Nietzsche’s time,” Manthorpe said. Many self-help books also focus on this positivism, but ignore the darker elements of his theories. “Aiming at confidence as a goal is seriously flawed, we create a life which is not necessarily the one we want.” Manthorpe, heavily influenced by this, came to his own conclusion, one which he is anxious to share.

Are you curious to hear Manthorpe’s philosophy on confidence? Then buy your tickets now, join us on Friday 15 April and come celebrate the universal genius.

Kevin de Randamie“The creative industry is the only industry that does not require resources to create value,” said Kevin de Randamie, also known as Blaxtar, general manager at Braenworks. And yet the perceived economic value of the top 20 {95388bbb2e9df0f2b3d26445fc24fe82185b1b567dbb094bc3a45074083d0a2b} of performing artists seems exaggerated. While that of the remaining 80 {95388bbb2e9df0f2b3d26445fc24fe82185b1b567dbb094bc3a45074083d0a2b} is largely discounted, discredited or ignored.

De Randamie’s big passion has always been music, and he started to make music early on. He went on to work at various accounting jobs at different companies, but his passion for music remained. Using the money he made from his accounting jobs, he founded a company aimed at promoting artists who had a positive but critical message on societal issues. At the same time he started a non-profit organisation which brings together people and poets, in order to promote word craft disciplines. Since 2014 he also works as general manager at Braenworks.

During his time working in the creative industry, De Randamie has seen and experienced many things which have shaped his vision on the creative industry as a whole. “I was doing well, releasing my own music as well as that of others,” he recounted. Until 2010, when the government announced cutbacks to culture. “I took a big dive, I was registered as a sole trader and thus privately responsible and accountable.” It even went as far as having to sell equipment just to make ends meet. “Revenue was low and profits were marginal despite having decent success.” Times had become very tough for De Randamie. But what intrigued him most of all was how companies who made even no profit could be sold for tremendous amounts of money. If they could, then what was so different about the creative industry?

De Randamie went on a search to find out why. “The creative industry works the same way similarly all across the globe,” he said. “Fashion, movies, music, they are all exploited the same way.” Yet his search was not as easy as that, since there are no models to determine value for creative companies. But a realisation came in the end. “I realised that the most valuable item, creativity, could not be sold.” Armed with these new insights De Randamie set up new initiatives, which would later turn into companies. But the main realisation is what still irks De Randamie the most. Namely that the top 20 {95388bbb2e9df0f2b3d26445fc24fe82185b1b567dbb094bc3a45074083d0a2b} of the creative industry remains visible, while the rest remain in the shadows. De Randamie is convinced, however, that his knowledge learned from difficult times has led to a solution that could help those part of the 80{95388bbb2e9df0f2b3d26445fc24fe82185b1b567dbb094bc3a45074083d0a2b}.

Want to hear how De Randamie wants to empower 80 {95388bbb2e9df0f2b3d26445fc24fe82185b1b567dbb094bc3a45074083d0a2b} of the creative industry? Then buy your tickets now, join us on Friday 15 April and celebrate the universal genius.

Max van DuijnFor the past five years Max van Duijn, Assistant Professor at Leiden University, has been studying storytelling. “I see it as a puzzle,” he explained. “Why do people all over the world spend so much time in the worlds created by stories?”

Van Duijn studied at Leiden University, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Dutch Language and Literature, in addition to following a minor in Business Administration. He followed this up with a Master’s in Literature/Linguistics. Having attained his MA, he embarked on a multitude of projects. He became a PhD fellow at Leiden University, and worked at the University of Oxford as a Visiting Researcher where he was affiliated with the Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, headed by Professor Robin Dunbar (known for formulating Dunbar’s number, which says that people have a cognitive limit to the number of stable relations a person can maintain). Since 2015 Van Duijn has been working as an Assistant Professor at Leiden University.

“There are several reasons why people tell or listen to stories,” Van Duijn said. “To escape from reality, to learn, but also to maintain social networks.” People are drawn to the worlds created in stories even though they might not be relevant to the listener. “It fascinates me.” And so van Duijn started his research into storytelling, bringing in psychologists to investigate what happens to people when stories are being told. “When stories are being told the brain switches to a different mode for both the storyteller and the audience,” he said.

Van Duijn is convinced that his research into stories and storytelling will help lead to a better understanding of humanity. “It will help us to better understand who we are, and why we are the way we are,” he said excitedly. “Man is a type of primate, forming a social structure which leads to a network.” From a biological standpoint the chimpanzee resembles man, but their social networks are limited. For people, the networks are far more complex and expansive. What is most interesting to Van Duijn is finding out how stories help build and maintain these social networks. “I believe this research can offer us some fundamental knowledge about the functioning of people in society.”

Are you interested in learning exactly how Van Duijn thinks stories help create and maintain the complex social networks we all have? Then buy your tickets now, come join us Friday 15 April and celebrate the universal genius.

Victor HupeFor Victor Hupe, high school student, science had interested him ever since he first started high school. He had to drop the course after his third year, but when the opportunity arose to continue with it as an extracurricular activity, he grabbed it with both hands. What he learned there was more than he could have imagined.

Hupe was born 17 years ago, and is currently in his final year of VWO, pre-university level, at high school. Outside of school his main interest is playing soccer, with friends as well as at a local club. He also likes to travel, draw and play board and card games. After graduation it is Hupe’s intention to enroll at TU Delft, where he plans to study industrial engineering. The opportunity he had to continue practising science as an extracurricular activity at his high school was the main reason for this decision.

“At the end of the third year I had to choose the courses for my final years,” he explained. “A few teachers would get together every once in a while to build things, but often didn’t actually get around to getting together.” An initiative started where the teachers asked several students who might be interested in joining the group to work on a project of their own, amongst which was Hupe. Without hesitation he joined the initiative, which was called FAB class, short for fabrication, based on Maker Education. “It is not a course in the traditional sense, it is outside of regular school hours, but everyone involved is highly motivated,” Hupe said of the initiative.

The open nature of the course is exemplified by the projects he worked on. “I built a wooden bicycle, cups for small children, a Google cardboard,” Hupe recounted. There are few restrictions on what can be made, equipment such as a laser cutter and 3D printer are being made available, and if necessary building materials will be ordered to complete a project. Being offered this kind of freedom has brought Hupe plenty of technical knowledge. But not just that. “Along the way I started to realise I was learning things that could be applied beyond FAB class as well.” A new way to look at the challenges and difficulties one encounters in life, some valuable life lessons. Lessons he is eager to share on the TEDxDelft stage.

Want to know the lessons Hupe learned from having been given the freedom to build his own projects at school? Then buy your tickets now, join us on Friday 15 April and celebrate the universal genius.

Jasper van KuijkThe TEDxDelft stage is one Jasper van Kuijk, Assistant Professor at the Technical University of Delft and comedian, is all too familiar with. “I hosted the very first edition of TEDxDelft,” he says proudly. “And I was more than happy to return back to that stage.”

Van Kuijk, originally from The Hague, started attending the Delft University of Technology where he studied Industrial Design Engineering. A couple of years after obtaining his Master’s he reenrolled at TU Delft to obtain a PhD in the same field, and continues to work at the university as an Assistant Professor. During his studies he followed a course in theatrics and comedy. From this course came a group with which van Kuijk toured for three years, and went on to win a contest at a comedy festival. After three years of touring the group was dissolved, and Van Kuijk decided he wanted to become a solo artist.

Though van Kuijk was excited to have been invited to be on the TEDxDelft stage, he also knew early on he did not want to do a talk. But what then? “I basically received ‘carte blanche’ from Rob [Speekenbrink, Founder TEDxDelft] and Caryn [’t Hart, Head Curator] when they approached me,” he explains. Quickly they decided on a show van Kuijk had done last year. “It was actually an experiment for me,” he said. It was a show they had performed on only four occasions. Now he is bringing it back for TEDxDelft, only now in front of 1100 people and in English.

“It was hard to decide what I wanted to add to TEDxDelft, but I decided I wanted to push the boundaries of what I had done before,” van Kuijk explains. Though he does not have an overarching theme to his performance, when asked how to characterize his time on the stage it would be as a challenge. “I am active in a lot of different areas,” he clarifies. So when given the opportunity to do whatever you want to, what do you do? “Something surprising,” is van Kuijk’s answer. Though if it were to have a title, van Kuijk knows what it would be, quoting Baz Luhrmann: “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Are you curious to find out what Jasper van Kuijk’s act will be? Then buy your tickets now, join us on Friday 15 April and come celebrate the universal genius.

Niels 't Hooft“The literary world can be slow to adapt to changes,” writer Niels ’t Hooft says. “It is one of the last industries which seems to resist technology.” And with the sales of print on the rise, change seems even more unlikely. Which is a pity according to ’t Hooft.

After finishing high school, ’t Hooft decided not to study but to start working instead. He set out to build a website about video games. From this, it was only a relatively small step to becoming a journalist writing about video games. From journalistic writing came fiction writing. His first book was published in 2003 and he has since gone on to write two more novels, as well as several short stories. His affinity for technology, and games, in particular, remained. He found a way to combine his love of writing with that of games by helping with the development of several games through story development and direction, as well as helping build the worlds in which games took place.

“There is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt around literature in the current media and culture landscape,” ’t Hooft explains. The sales of print is increasing, but that of e-books is stagnating. The literary world appears hesitant to embrace the possibilities that new technologies such as smartphones could offer. “The last few months have really confirmed the industry’s reticence,” he says. For ’t Hooft, this is a shame. Through his work on video games, he has gained an appreciation for the ways in which technology can be applied to tell a story.

“It could be a new way to present literature. A whole new experience for the reader,” he says. But there are obstacles to consider as well. “You see a lot of people reading on their smartphones on public transport.” It is a device people carry with them all the time, but it is also a device which constantly asks for attention through new messages, phone calls, and a host of other notifications. And finally, there is also the question of whether people really have the time to sit and read? ’t Hooft sees many great opportunities, ways to make fiction truly interactive. “And who better to do it than the writers themselves?”

Are you interested to hear how Niels ‘t Hooft is convinced writers can bring literature definitively into the digital age? Then buy your tickets now, joins us on Friday 15 April and come celebrate the universal genius.

Kiza Magendane“Refugees left their home, and we can help them build a new one,” says Kiza Magendane. A writer and student, he says the welcome they receive is a very positive one, but he argues we should try and improve it even further.

Magendane originally hails from the Congo, and eventually he moved to the Netherlands. After finishing high school he enrolled at the University of Amsterdam, where he studied political sciences. Starting in 2011 he also became very much involved in various groups and associations with a focus on such topics as the African youth diaspora in Europe, improving social cohesion in urban areas, and bringing together people from various backgrounds. In addition, he has written for various publications on Africa and politics and migration. “I am an opinion maker,” he said. His involvement with the various organizations has given him a very clear perspective on the integration of migrants in Dutch society and ideas on how he feels it could further improve.

The majority of the Dutch are very welcoming to refugees, Magendane explains. “Every day thousands invest their time in giving refugees a warm welcome and guiding them into Dutch society.” If this image is distorted in any way, it is because of the vocal minority found on various social media outlets. For Magendane, it is clear that the focus should be placed on those who, if silently, do their part and make a difference for so many people who have left their homes behind in search of a new one.

It is from these people that Magendane draws much of his own inspiration. “I see lots of people who take the initiative,” he said. “This is what inspires me.” Inspiration to think about new challenges that arise and need a solution. How to encourage people to make new connections, and instill in people the realization that they can help and make a difference for someone else. Ensuring that people understand one another better and feel more included as opposed to isolated in a center for asylum seekers. “Having a home is important for everyone,” he said. It is Magendane’s goal to inspire more and more people to continue welcoming refugees, and to help them build their new home.

Curious to hear how Kiza Magendane believes we can further help feel refugees welcome? Then buy your tickets now, join us on Friday 15 April and come celebrate the universal genius.

Esther van Fenema“It is normal to see parents set boundaries for their children,” Esther van Fenema, psychiatrist, says. “As an adult however those restrictions are no longer there, there is complete freedom.” But, Van Fenema asks, is having all this freedom a good thing?

Van Fenema initially set out studying violin at a conservatory in Amsterdam. After four years she went on to study medicine in Louvain, Belgium, where she simultaneously continued studying violin in Brussels. From there she returned to Utrecht to continue her studies to be a doctor. Having attained her degree she worked for a year as a doctor in first aid, before starting her education to become a psychiatrist at Leiden University Medical Center. “It is the best profession there is,” she says. “I hesitated about surgery, but in the end I found the brain to be the most interesting part of the human anatomy.”

For Van Fenema diagnosing a patient presents her with a new challenge each and every time, as no two cases are ever exactly alike. And finding the root cause might not always be as easy as it seems. “Sometimes a patient might be afraid to say what is troubling them. And sometimes they simply cannot, because they are not fully aware of what the cause actually is.” So Van Fenema must be creative, using interview techniques to assess her patients. It is something she relishes, but as time has gone on she has started to realise that many of the cases she and her colleagues have treated could have been prevented. Cases where people were vulnerable and might not have been aware of this, subsequently unable to resist the temptation of drink, drugs, or food. “But then, does the patient have no one but him or herself to blame?” she asks. “Or should the blame lie with society in general for allowing people the freedom in which they can fall prey to detrimental behavior?”

Herein lies the crux of the matter for Van Fenema, the debate which she feels must be held. Though plenty of people can deal with this sense of freedom just fine, there are those for whom it can be overwhelming and detrimental to their health. Is freedom a good thing if it allows people to harm themselves or others? Discussing freedom can be a tricky topic, Van Fenema realizes. “If you question our freedom, you are easily demonized.” Yet it is a question she strongly feels must be asked, and is thrilled to discuss on the TEDxDelft stage.

Are you curious to hear how Van Fenema views this debate, or wish to join in the debate yourself? Then buy your tickets now, join us on Friday 15 April and come celebrate the universal genius.

Karin de Groot

Everyone at some point in their life has likely given a presentation, more often than not with a few all too familiar pointers such as to smile, or to avoid saying “um”. Karin de Groot, a presentation coach and radio presenter, says there is only one piece of advice people need: stop presenting and start talking.

Having grown up in Rijswijk, de Groot applied to the Academy for Journalism in Tilburg. After graduating from the Academy she joined a Dutch public broadcaster, where she would present, interview for, and edit a variety of radio and television programs. During her career of 27 years she gradually focused more on presenting and interviewing, and currently hosts a daily radio show. With this vast amount of experience de Groot began paying more attention to the way people presented and to the way people taught how to give presentations. “People giving presentations started to resemble each other more and more,” she explains. De Groot did not think this to be a good thing, and so set about changing this.

De Groot set out to become a presentation coach as well, one that would take a different approach to teach people how to present. “One of the pointers coaches always give is to smile,” she says. “Yet this only distracts if the person is not really invested in their presentation.” Using strict rules when presenting takes away some of the spontaneity. “During a training once I told someone I had nothing really to remark regarding their presentation about their profession, just that I did not believe him,” she says. He admitted that he wanted to quit his job, but had tried to hide this. By having the presenter focus on his personal affinity with his work’s domain at large rather than about the work or the company itself, the presenter became far more invested in the topic and the presentation.

By providing people the tools to give a presentation or tell a story that feels natural to them they will feel empowered themselves to actually share it. “So many good ideas are lost to the world because people are afraid of spreading them,” De Groot says. Which is why she is excited to be on stage at TEDxDelft and share her ideas on how to ignore most of the rules, and simply start talking instead of presenting. And all the while remaining true to herself.

Curious to hear how Karin de Groot will help you present by simply starting to talk? Then buy your tickets now, join us on Friday 15 April and come celebrate the universal genius.

Sebastiaan Breedveld“My aim is to help improve the quality of health care,” says Sebastiaan Breedveld, a researcher at Erasmus University Medical Center. With the continuous development of new technologies in the medical sector, it would be reasonable to assume advances in medical care happen all the time. For Breedveld, however, looking at only the technology is not enough.

Breedveld was born and raised in the port city of Rotterdam, where from an early age he realised that both health care and science were two topics that very much interested him. And so he enrolled at the Delft University of Technology, where he studied mathematics and eventually obtained a Master’s degree. At the same time, he continued to find ways to connect with the health care sector. “I was always looking for the intersection between mathematics and medicine,” he explains. After graduating he became a student at Erasmus MC, where he would eventually achieve a Doctorate in Medical Physics.

Eventually, Breedveld would find his area of interest: radiation therapy. “I kind of rolled into this area really, I just happened to get involved in it.” It was here that he would really start to take notice of the effects of the relentless technological development in the medical sector. “There was and still is a lot to do, given the constant stream of changes,” he says. There is a drive to develop new methods of patient treatment, yet at the same time also the need to make the best use of what is available. It is this intersection which has Breedveld’s interest in particular.

From this stems his idea that patients should receive the best treatment that technology allows, as Breedveld feels the current state-of-the-art technology is often underused. Though it is a rather technical topic, Breedveld nevertheless relishes the opportunity to share it on the TEDxDelft stage. Fortunately, he is no stranger to explaining complicated topics to a general audience, having explained the basics of mathematics to children on several occasions. “Depending on the audience the key is to find a different way to visualise what you are saying,” says Breedveld.

Technological advancement is a good thing, given that it provides new possibilities for its users. For Breedveld, the importance lies in making use of it as best as possible to achieve what is best for the patient.

If you want to hear how Sebastiaan Breedveld believes patients can receive the best treatment technically possible, then buy your tickets now and join us on Friday 15 April 2016 and celebrate the universal genius.


TEDxDelft is happy to announce that tickets for the main event on Friday 15 April 2016 are now for sale. Click here to order your tickets online to make sure you will be there to listen to exciting new ideas and perspectives.

This edition will be TEDxDelft’s 5th anniversary and will be held on the birthday of one of history’s biggest thinkers, Leonardo da Vinci. Come join us on April 15th to celebrate the universal genius and share some more brilliant ideas.

Keep an eye on the TEDxDelft website as the speakers for this year’s event will start to be unveiled soon.