Unilever Research Prizes 2019
13 Talented young researchers awarded with Unilever Research Prizes
Last week, the 63rd edition of the Unilever Research Prizes was hosted in Unilever’s recently opened Foods Innovation Centre. Each Dutch University put forward one of their top Master students – those who have done outstanding work in their field of study and show traits of a qualified researcher. To stimulate these promising talents in their future development, each one of them was awarded a cheque for €2,500.
With the long-standing tradition of the Unilever Research Prizes, the valued relationship with the Dutch academic world is acknowledged and nurtured. Working together in times when our planet and people require significant breakthroughs in science and technology, will be crucial.
Solutions must be sought collaboratively, in order to reach UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Manfred Aben (Director Unilever’s Foods Innovation Centre): “If we think we can do it alone, we’re not thinking big enough.” In line with this, an important selection criterion for the 2019 Research Prize winners was the relevance of their research to one or more Sustainable Development Goals.
Prize winners (Steven Beijer, Eleanor Gourevitch, Else de Ridder, Leon Rosseau, Laura Oostenbach, Daan Bunt, Dana Rademaker, Klara Lohkamp, Steven van Kesteren, Emily Tang, Carmem Meira Cunha, Björn Nijhuis and Michelle Schinkel) were awarded by Richard Slater, Chief R&D Officer at Unilever, and Carla Hilhorst, Executive Vice President R&D Foods & Refreshment at Unilever. During the ceremony, attention was paid to the topics addressed in their master’s theses and the impact of the student’s findings in a broader context. Also, students Laura Oostenbach and Steven van Kesteren pitched their research findings in more detail to the audience.
In addition to the research on cleaner energy, better materials and a deeper understanding of health and wellbeing by the prize winners, further research insights were given by Frank van Harmelen, AI professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Krassimir Velikov, Senior Science & Program Leader at Unilever. During his lecture, Frank van Harmelen argued how advances in computer science (AI, the Web) make it possible to radically change how scientists are communicating their work to each other. After this, Krassimir Velikov presented how nature’s toolbox hidden in plants fuel the innovations in Unilever’s Research and Development.
Both the lectures and the impressive research done by the prize winners sparked conversations between students, academics and industry researchers. After the award ceremony and during a digital poster presentation session, students discussed their theses, current projects and future perspectives with experienced players in the field of research.