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Noorden Digitaal Talent Award-winners for research into artificial art and safe devices

10 February 2021
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Leonardo Arriagada and Joris Mellens are both winners of the Noorden Digital Talent Award. Leonardo won in the Best Discovery category and Joris in the Best Solution category. Leonardo also won the People’s Choice Award, winning 789 of the 1,825 votes cast.

State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Change Mona Keijzer made the announcement on Wednesday 10 February 2021, on the final day of the Nederland Digitaal Conference.

Leonardo Arriagada (PhD student at the University of Groningen and the University of Chile) won with his research into the value of art created by computers; do we find it less beautiful, just as beautiful or more beautiful than ‘human art’? He discovered that we do in fact consider ‘artificial art’ to be beautiful and that computers can therefore not only be intelligent, but also creative.

Joris Mellens (Network & Security Engineering student at Hanze University of Applied Sciences) entered the competition with user-friendly, automated protection for smart consumer devices. A protective layer over the devices ensures that only the owner is able to access them.

Inspiring entries

The jury was impressed by all the submissions. In particular, the diversity of the entrants was striking. From all across the North, female and male candidates from all kinds of educational backgrounds submitted entries. In reaching their decision, the jury focused in particular on the potential impact of the discovery or solution, whether the candidate had a broad vision on the subject and whether the discovery or solution was inspiring.

The jury found Leonardo Arriagada’s entry particularly inspiring because it makes you think about the role of humans in relation to artificial intelligence. His discovery may even lead to a greater understanding of ‘artificial art’.

The jury was also impressed by Joris Mellens’ submission, partly because he offers a user-friendly technical solution to a very relevant societal problem: how can you help consumers to secure their home network with simple solutions? Especially now that all kinds of smart devices are connected to it.

Providing a platform

The winners of the Noorden Digital Talent Award categories each receive a trophy and a cheque worth €500. All the finalists receive a certificate. But, more importantly, Noorden Digitaal gives the candidates access to a network that can help them along their way.

Through the Talent Award, Noorden Digitaal wants to offer students and pupils from Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe a platform to showcase their digital discoveries and solutions. At the large-scale, national Nederland Digitaal Conference, the winners were immediately thrust into the spotlight. During this annual conference, governments, businesses, knowledge institutions and social organizations come together to talk about scaling up innovations, room for talent and protecting public values and safety.


The video presentations of the six finalists can be viewed at the Noorden Digitaal website.

Last modified:18 February 2021 1.58 p.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

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