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FEB students ideas: turn ‘Pieterburen’ into more than a seal sanctuary

17 December 2015
Winning team and director Niek Kuizenga. The 'Happy Seal' hoodies are manufactured from recycled plastic from the Waddenzee

A ‘waddentour’ in an electric golf cart past all the attractions around Pieterburen, all-inclusive school trips, a possibility for classes to collectively adopt a seal, recycling debris from the sea into art and exhibiting this in the seal sanctuary …. These are just a few examples of concepts that students of the Faculty Economics and Business (FEB) of the University of Groningen have developed for the seal sanctuary Pieterburen, which intends to create a broader profile than just a ‘seal hospital’.

Six weeks ago five groups of international students started working on a ‘business challenge’, organised by the FEB Careers Company, in collaboration with the seal sanctuary itself and supported by the Rabobank Noordenveld West Groningen. Questions such as ‘how can we attract more visitors ‘and ‘how do we strengthen our financial position’ and ‘what can the seal sanctuary mean for the local economy’ were central in this project. This week, the participants presented their findings.

Winning idea: focus on local economy

The winning concept belongs to Carmen de Pedro, Ihor Verzhykovskiy and Jorick Dam: they emphasize the importance of a focus on the local economy and local partners to the sanctuary. With a solid network at local level, both with other companies, and private persons or, for instance, nature organisations money as a source will be even superfluous sometimes they argue and just like in old times an exchange market will emerge. This is a completely new approach to getting the sanctuary back on its feet. The three students in their presentation on Monday evening showed how they would like to see this elaborated in practice.

“Straight to work”

Director of the seal sanctuary, Niek Kuizenga, is pleased with the results: “It is inspiring to work with these young people. Also, it is nice to get back up from students, definitely when resources in terms of money and staff are limited. Results have been achieved that can be implemented immediately!’ The winning students received a ‘hoodie’, made of recycled fishnets from the Waddenzee. This line of clothing is a product of the Happy Seal project, which was started earlier by the seal sanctuary and that focuses mainly on the environment of the seal.

“Matching of idealism and reality”

This business challenge works both ways according to lecturer Bartjan Pennink. ‘Our students have the knowledge, they are innovative and uninhibited by baggage of socially acceptable behaviour and they tell it as it is, as a result of which as a company you get a true picture. On the other hand in a short space of time students learn to sell ideas in practice, and they get a chance of doing something that really matters.’ Student Carmen de Pedro confirms this: ‘It is all about matching idealism with the practical reality. In this business challenge I could put into practice what I had learned before.’

New challenge: earthquake problems

Seal sanctuary Pieterburen is immediately going ahead with working on the proposals of the winning team. And: ‘even from the non-winning teams we got tips that we will implement immediately, ‘according to Huizenga. In the coming time more organisations will benefit from the innovative input by students: FEB Careers Company organises, for instance, a new business challenge with Koninklijke Kentalis and in additoin students will be challenged to dive into the earthquake problems .

Note for the press

For questions please contact Alieda Reijinga, careerscompany.feb / 050 363 3710

Last modified:29 February 2024 10.02 a.m.
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