From the nitrogen crisis to energy poverty, the Netherlands has some major challenges to contend with. Through Brains4, TNO is helping to find solutions to pressing issues.
What is Brains4?
Brains4 is an annual event that is all about short-cycle innovation. Each year a different societal challenge takes centre stage. TNO employees make use of their knowledge and the latest technologies to tackle these challenges, coming up with solutions that companies and individuals can quickly put into practice.
How does it work?
Every edition of Brains4, challenges employees to think of a solution to a particular societal challenge. All TNO staff members can participate in this challenge.
The conditions are as follows: the solution must be achievable in the short term and the team must collaborate with a company or an organisation.
A jury selects the most promising projects and the teams in question can then flesh out their plans in more detail. TNO provides a small start-up budget and the best team gets the chance to actually develop their solution and roll out in society.
The theme for 2024 is climate adaptation.
In 2024 TNO employees will once again be harnessing their ingenuity to accelerate innovations that benefit our society. This year’s theme was announced in November 2023: Brains4climateadaptation.
Eight teams set to work developing solutions to labour-market challenges. Supporting young people who are struggling to navigate the job market is one such challenge. Another is reducing the influence of bias in the recruitment and selection process when filling vacancies. In this edition of the event, TNO employees developed an escape game for young people and a robot system for the military constabulary and police, as well as a digital tool to help employers improve the process and quality of recruitment and selection.
Brains4neighbourhoods was all about finding solutions to problems that people face at neighbourhood level. One such problem is energy poverty. The solutions included the successful development of a form of ‘do-it-yourself’ secondary glazing. Window film can prevent a great deal of heat from being lost and can therefore save you money.
The nitrogen crisis is a complex problem that has implications for housing, agriculture, and various other sectors. TNO employees were once again invited to draw on their ingenuity and come up with solutions. The result? Measurement and monitoring tools were made readily available for the construction industry. The N2-ABLE project came up with a system to limit nitrogen emissions. A method was also developed to improve the measurement of airborne nitrogen deposition.
For the first edition of the event, 21 project proposals were selected from around 80 in total. One of the projects, PUPPY (Pop-Up, Pick-Up, and Home Delivery), targeted entrepreneurs, who experienced a decline in sales during the coronavirus crisis. This project developed a cost-effective logistics collaboration model that allowed products to be picked up and delivered to consumers locally. Another successful project resulting from this first edition was the rapid, cheap, and reliable coronavirus test developed for the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport. This test gave a result within an hour. The modified testing method simplified and reduced the number of intermediate steps required.