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Stef van Grieken elected Alumnus of the Year

02 July 2024
Picture Stef van Grieken
Stef van Grieken, photo Joël Hunn ©

The University of Groningen has elected Stef van Grieken, tech entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of Cradle, as Alumnus of the Year 2024. Van Grieken will receive his prize during the opening of the academic year on 2 September. ‘Van Grieken shows us that you can also do very useful things with AI, even though its use is complex and sometimes controversial in our society,’ says the jury. ‘He is therefore the rightful Alumnus of the Year 2024.

Entrepreneurial spirit

Stef van Grieken shows how you can start your own business in Europe and make it a success from the start. For the combination of cleverness, entrepreneurial spirit, and societal involvement, he has been named Alumnus of the Year 2024. The July issue of alumni magazine Broerstraat 5 includes an in-depth interview with Van Grieken.

About Stef van Grieken

Stef van Grieken (1986) obtained his Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Groningen in 2014. During his studies, he was already highly active in the digital world. He organized hackathons and, as founder or board member, he was closely involved in initiatives such as Het Nieuwe Stemmen [The New Voting], Hack de Overheid [Hack the Government], and the Open State Foundation, which aim to make the government and institutions digitally transparent and aware.

Subsequently, he made a career in Silicon Valley at Google. There, he worked on machine learning and AI-models at Google X and Google Brain. Two years ago, he changed course. Together with Jelle Prins of Uber, he launched Cradle, a platform that uses AI to accelerate the development of practically applicable proteins. Just as ChatGPT can help write a text, Cradle’s AI helps to find the most promising protein constructions that can be used for a medicine, an alternative for plastic, milk, or a detergent, for example. As a result, the development time of these products can be drastically reduced.

About the Alumnus of the Year award

The University of Groningen has been awarding the annual Alumnus of the Year award to an exceptional former student since 2009. The award is both an expression of appreciation and encouragement to a former student who has made an exceptional contribution to society, science, sports, or culture; who is an inspiration to others and holds great promise for the future. Previous winners include Jeroen Smit, Jelle Brandt Corstius, Stine Jensen, Monica Arac, Christiaan Triebert, Sander de Hosson, Laurien Meuter, Iris de Graaf. Takudzwa Mutezo was the last winner in 2023.

This year, the jury of the Alumnus of the Year award included Rector Magnificus Jacquelien Scherpen (chair), investigative journalist and Alumnus of the Year 2018 Christiaan Triebert, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy Lisa Herzog, and Director of Alumni Relations & Fundraising / Ubbo Emmius Fund Remco Kouwenhoven.

Last modified:04 July 2024 1.16 p.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

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