Wageningen breakwater wins audience prize 4TU Impact Challenge

Mitchell Williams (26) and Frej Gustafsson (23) received the most audience votes in the national 4YU Impact Challenge finals. They win a sum of 1500 euros but are equally thrilled with all the exposure for their ‘living’ breakwater. Their living breakwater is a sustainable structure that is to replace the concrete behemoths in the seas. ‘Our idea appeals to people and businesses, we received countless messages from interested parties.’

‘I am truly baffled by the spin-off from the 4TU Impact Challenge. This was already the case on the road to the finals, but, now that we have won the audience prize, we are flooded with publicity’, says an enthusiastic Mitchell Williams (26). With his fellow student Frej Gustafson (23) he makes up the ReShore team, that competed against seven other teams from the Dutch technical universities last Thursday.


Frej Gustafsson (left) and Mitchell Williams. Image: Team ReShore
Frej Gustafsson (left) and Mitchell Williams. Image: Team ReShore

Team ZED of the TU Delft won the jury prize. This team will join the Dutch trade mission to the Dubai World Expo (postponed until October 2021 due to corona). ZED develops chordless and battery-less devices for businesses. Something completely different from the living breakwater ReShore designed, but in keeping with the central theme of sustainability, says Mitchell. ‘I think this is also the reason our idea appeals to the public.’ The ‘living’ breakwater protects not only the coast, but also the marine ecosystem beneath it, and it provides a habitat for oysters, mussels and seaweed. Mitchell: ‘Our idea is tangible, easy to envision, especially as we have provided images.’


The construction of the living breakwater from an underwater perspective, with the cages for crustaceans such as mussels and oysters in the middle. Image: Team ReShore
The construction of the living breakwater from an underwater perspective, with the cages for crustaceans such as mussels and oysters in the middle. Image: Team ReShore

These artist impressions show how the floating breakwaters, that bear a striking resemblance to space satellites of 15 metres each, are linked together off the coast. Underwater, some cages facilitate the growth of crustaceans and seaweed: they form the basis of a flourishing ecosystem and can also serve as food.

The living breakwater protects the coast and the marine ecosystem

The first living breakwater will be deployed in the Oosterschelde for a pilot next year, say the two, who have just graduated in the field of Aquaculture & Marine Resource Management. They are currently entirely focussed on their innovation. The 4TU audience prize makes them even more convinced that ReShore will be deployed globally within two to five years. Mitchell: ‘The fact that our idea is taking off like this is super cool. Apparently, we struck the right chord.’

Dutch 4TU Impact Challenge

With the Dutch 4TU Impact Challenge, the four technical universities in the Netherlands – Delft, Twente, Eindhoven and Wageningen – aim to stimulate students to combine innovative ideas with entrepreneurship. After four regional preliminaries, the finals are held on Thursday 19 November. There, the last 8 remaining teams (two per university) will pitch their idea for a jury of five experts. The winner will join the Dutch trade mission at the Dubai World Expo (currently postponed due to the corona pandemic). There is also an audience prize of 1500 euros. Wageningen University & Research is represented by the ReShore and FarmVent teams. The latter developed a vending machine for herbs that can be harvested in the supermarket. The event can be revisited online on the website.

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