On Thursday 15 September, the ten selected Dutch participants of the upcoming Wetskills Water Challenge in Iran, came together in Rotterdam for the prepatory meeting. The organizing Wetskills team introduced the programme and the cases that the participants will work on. The event will take place from 13 till 25 October and is aligned to the trade mission of Minister of Infrastructure & Environment of The Netherlands, Ms. Schultz van Haegen to Iran.
This will be the first time that a Wetskills Challenge is organized in Iran. During this Challenge participants from e.g. the Dutch Universities of Wageningen, Twente, Eindhoven, Delft, Van Hall Larenstein and Rotterdam are collaborating with participants of the Sharif University of Technologym, University in Teheran, e.g.
Both the Wetskills team and the participants are very excited. ‘Iran has many water related challenges that are becoming very urgent’, says Sara Mehryar. Sara is an Iranian PhD, currently working at ITC department of the University of Twente. During this Wetskills Challenge, she will be one of the case owners. Melanne Rouw, a Dutch participant, who’s about to finish her studies International Land and Water Management at Wageningen Univerity agrees with Sara: ‘During my four month research project in Iran earlier during my studies, I interviewed a lot of companies and organizations. Iran has various water related problems and I’m looking forward to go back and help finding solutions for the cases that we’ll work on.’
Five case owners from the watersector
Five owners can expect out-of-the box solutions from students and young professional from the watersector. Berson UV submitted a case about ideas to implement (waste)water treatment with UV-light. The ITC-University of Twente, with Sara as case owner, focuses on making the community more resilient for water in an area of Iran where pistache nuts are grown. Different stakeholders, like farmers and the agricultural sector, hope for solutions related to the increasing water scarcity. Another case focuses on Lake Urmia, a big salt lake that is shrinking rapidly. The Dutch Water Authorities with ‘Waterschap De Dommel’ submitted a case about water-efficiency for irrigation in the Hashtgerd plain. At the moment Wetskills is still looking for a fifth case owner with a complex water related case.
Sara told the group a bit more about Iran. This is how we learned that this cat shaped country has different water sources. ‘We see more and more scarcity of both surface water and ground water. With 85 million people, of which 12 million living in Tehran, we really need good solutions. Wetskills is a great initiative and it’s an opportunity for both Dutch and Iranian water professionals. I think Iranian students are a bit more technical. Dutch waterprofessionals have other skills and are more practical. I think the mixed Wetskills teams are able to build the bridges that are needed to put good ideas into practice.’
Getting to know each other
After the kick off the participants met with the Wetskills Alumni of the Taiwan edition. The total group got a tour through the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Rotterdam. This co-working space in the Groothandelsgebouw, or ‘Big trade building’, right next to Rotterdam Central Station is an inspiring place for (young) professionals and start-ups with big ideas that are looking to collaborate. After that the CIC Venture Bar was a nice place to get to know each other a bit better.