Inspirational speakers

Get your day off to an inspiring start by listening to one of our uplifting keynote speakers over breakfast. 

Speakers of CuriousU 2022 edition 

Monday, August 15: Robot and the Flea Market
Dr. Ir. Edwin Dertien

Researcher, teacher, artist, musician, healthcare entrepreneur, and Jack-of-all-trades in robotics. Dr Edwin Dertien is all of these things. This versatility is reflected in his research and teaching at the University of Twente. "I’m a maker at heart."

Since 2006 his company 'Kunst- en Techniekwerk' (making art work) has been providing the technical backbone in art-projects, ranging from robot-arms for sci-fi movies to autonomous GPS track drawing robots, big moving sculptures, installations for festivals and expositions, android robots and animatronics.

Since 2008 Edwin has been employed at the University of Twente as a researcher/teacher for the Creative Technology programme, developing and teaching courses in programming, physical computing, sensor technology, tinkering and explorative design. He also co-founded the ASSortiMENS foundation (in 2013), running a FabLab inspired workshop tailored to people with autism, including a children's FabLab project (het kinderfablab). 

Edwin has also been a participant at MediaMatic's award winning RFID hacker camps (2008,2009), regular contributor to the GogBot festival and other tech-fests, speaker at TEDx Amsterdam (2012), TEDx Zwolle (2013). Initiator and co-organizer of MakerFaire Twente (2013) and participated in 2021 as one of the inventors in the Dutch TV-show 'We gaan het maken' (format broadcasted in UK as 'the Big Life Fix). 

Check out his very interesting website here.

Tuesday, August 16: Resilience and Entrepreneurship
Prof. Dr. Ir. Petra de Weerd-Nederhof

Petra is a full professor and Dean of the Science faculty at the Dutch Open Universiteit. Until June 2022 she was (chair in) Organising Innovation at the University of Twente and was among others department head of its research group in Entrepreneurship, Strategy, International and Innovation Management & Marketing. Petra was editor-in-chief of the academic Journal Creativity and Innovation Management for 12,5 years. At UT she was responsible for the Innovation & Entrepreneurship minor programmes for quite a while and also initiated the CuriousU course EntrepreneurialU as well as the bachelor honourstrack on Entrepreneurship and Business Development. After an impactful adversity in her personal live in 2012, she started new research into the relationship between resilience and innovation, and also entrepreneurship. She has held many lectures on these topics, e.g "Resilient Organisations Innovate!" among others at UT's Risk and Resilience Festival "Resilience as a success factor for start-ups" for SheLaunches (accelerating female entrepreneurs) and "Resilience and Innovative Organising for Innovation Performance” for Open Universiteit. She is also the co-founder of the European Panther Program, a collaboration of Flanders Business School, UT, Open Universiteit, and Fontys University of Applied Sciences with partners like Topicus, Golden Egg Check and Novel T. 

She knows from personal experience what it is like to bounce back from adversity and take a quantum leap to even more innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. Check out her blog.

Wednesday, August 17: Leading Mindful Change
Malte Krohn Ph.D.

Leading change is hard work! As changemakers, we are up for a fulfilling journey of experiencing purposeful tasks, shaping our environment, and personal growth. Yet, we also have to navigate substantial personal challenges. Turning novel ideas into reality through research, innovation, and entrepreneurship means navigating an environment of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). An environment that inherently challenges our human need for security and stability.

Malte Krohn is an entrepreneur, an innovation researcher at Hamburg University of Technology, and a Faculty Innovation Fellow at Stanford’s Besides leading change through innovation and entrepreneurship, he is also a certified Yoga and meditation teacher who explores and teaches more mindful ways of leading change. At, he helps aspiring changemakers, ambitious startups, and bold organizations to create the future from their present moment!

In his talk, Malte will share his take on “Leading Mindful Change,” why we need to build our changemaker’s sailboat – and how to mindfully navigate the waves of VUCA at our own pace.

Thursday, August 18: Why not?
Nissrin Dkhissi

Change is inevitable. The way you react to it determines your path. Nissrin helps individuals and organizations to discover, challenge and create their paths by embracing change. 

Using her superpower as a curious rebel Nissrin motivates to adopt a why not mentality in order to engage, empower and move. With playful insights, Nissrin connects social innovation, personal growth and diversity and inclusion to one another. She believes in changing by experimenting! This has earned her the public civil servant award in 2020.

 Staying in the box is doing no one any good. Challenging personal norms and values lead to understanding, creativity and growth. Let’s challenge, discover and create together. Why not? OR Let’s challenge, discover and create a new path one step at a time. Why not? 

Nissrin Dkhissi works as a civil servant at the Royal Netherlands Army. Together with a small team, she works on the public affairs and engagement of the army. She has founded her company why not consultancy in order to help and advise others on social innovation and soft skills. Her curiosity has been her compass which guides her on her journey.

Friday, August 19: The Societal and Ethical Impact of Becoming a Superhero
Dr. Barry Fitzgerald

Dr. Barry Fitzgerald is a physicist, speaker, author, speaker trainer, event host, and science communicator. Barry has spoken all around the world at schools, science festivals, and companies about the science of popular culture, in particular superheroes. For example, he spoke at TEDxBerlin about "Being a Responsible Superhero" in June 2019.

In December 2020, Barry launched his YouTube channel - The Superhero Scientist - where he shares videos on the science and engineering of superheroes, Star Wars, and other topics. He is the author of three books including ‘Secrets of Superhero Science’ and ‘How to Build an Iron Man Suit’. 

Barry has seen the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War more than 40 times, and his superpower will remain a closely guarded secret.

Watch his CuriousU 2021 talk on "How to Build a Superhero" or visit his Instagram or Tiktok.

Sunday, August 21: Why we should never cry over spilled milk
Dr. Le Anh Nguyen Long

Researcher, teacher, mentor, author, and citizen of the world, Le Anh’s main fields of research are in the governance of transitions in energy, cybersecurity, and urban climate change policy making. Just like you, Le Anh is curious about the world around her. Her curiosity has lead Le Anh to research indigenous peoples living in the forests of Mount Kalatungan mountain range and to observe migrant diasporas in Rome. She is particularly interested in understanding how and why institutions evolve when people try to work together in service of a shared vision of the world around them. Understanding institutional evolution is crucial for addressing complex and wicked problems ranging from climate change to cyber-crime, and can help reveal the different governance pathways toward a more sustainable, just, and caring society. In short, she is fascinated with the question of transformation, both personal and societal. 

Le Anh’s talk is entitled, “Why we should never cry over spilled milk” “Don’t cry over spilled milk” is an old adage people repeat when reminding themselves and others not to wallow too long in regret over a mis-step, mistake, or outright failure. But where does this saying come from and does it carry any hidden wisdom that we can exploit for navigating our lives today? Today we will reflect together on how our willingness to make mistakes can lead to discovery about ourselves, our communities, and the world around us, if only we let our curiosity get the better of us.

Monday, August 22: A stoke
University Innovation Fellows

University Innovation Fellows, trained by Stanford's, empower students around the world to become agents of change in higher education. Fellows create opportunities that help their peers unlock their creative potential and develop the design-centred mindset required to take on complex challenges in today’s world. Fellows are students of all majors and academic levels – from freshmen to PhDs – who want to shape the future of education.

We, the University Innovation Fellows of Twente, made it our mission to empower students at our university to make a change in the Innovation & Entrepreneurship ecosystem of the University of Twente.

Find out more about UIF at the About UIF page

During this morning energiser, or what we like to call a stoke, participants will engage in activities that get them moving and interacting with their fellow summer school attendees in a fun way.