Vlerick student team wins CleanTech Challenge Belgium 2012-2013

A team of five Masters in General Management students has won the Belgian finals of the CleanTech Challenge, a student competition on how to build a better future through environmentally-friendly technology. Michael Clockaerts, Thomas Lettens, Philippe Van Gestel, Bram Nelissen and Bart Embrechts presented their EDAS idea for an Eco Drive Assist System allowing drivers to change their driving style in order to consume the least amount of fuel possible. They will now be representing Belgium during the bootcamp finals in London on 25 and 26 April.

This international and innovative competition for students is hosted by the London Business School and University College London since 2009. The Belgian competition is a joint organisation by Vlerick Business School and AFC Leuven. Two of out of the five Belgian finalist teams were Vlerick teams. The competition is open to all entrepreneurial economic, science and engineering students, PhDs and MBAs, and to all other students with a CleanTech idea that has a positive impact on the environment.

The entrepreneurial spirit of Vlerick

Throughout the entire Vlerick journey, entrepreneurship is encouraged. This encouragement is embodied by the Entrepreneurship course, for which students are asked to write a business plan. For the CleanTech team, it turned out to be much more than just an exercise for EDAS Technologies. Philippe Van Gestel: “It was September 2012 when EDAS Technologies started to take shape. Given the rising fuel prices for the end-consumer and the environmental consequences, we identified state-of-the-art eco drive assist systems as a business opportunity. EDAS Technologies consists out of five young entrepreneurs with mixed backgrounds, driven by their passion for technology and ecology. Participating in the CleanTech Challenge was the ideal platform to launch our idea, test its credibility, get feedback from industry professionals and create buzz concerning our Eco Drive Assist System”.

EDAS is a mobile application that displays the most ecological driving style real-time. It’s very different compared to other eco drive systems, as explains Philippe Van Gestel: “EDAS differentiates itself by giving real-time instructions on how to drive eco-friendly instead of only assessing current driving behaviour. EDAS instructs you on how to shift, what speeds to drive and how fast to accelerate and decelerate. Our main company focus will be on the Belgian B2B market and more specifically on companies with a significant car fleet. In the end, our goal is to become the most reliable business partner in ecologically sustainable fleet management.”

What made the difference was that the EDAS team had moved beyond the idea stage,” explains Vlerick professor Veroniek Collewaert, who guided and coached the team. “They have really developed a full business concept knowing very well who their target customers are, what benefit they can offer them in terms of money their customers will be able to save by using the EDAS eco-driving system and what sets them apart from their main competition. Backed up by a technology developed through PhD and Master’s research, this guarantees that they have a viable product in their hands.

London and beyond?

The Vlerick team was stunned by joy when the jury announced them as the winners of the Belgian finals. Philippe Van Gestel: “Throughout the entire contest, the competition was fierce. Given our own entrepreneurial mindset, all the work we have put into EDAS Technologies and Vlerick’s keenness on entrepreneurship, we are honoured to represent EDAS Technologies and Vlerick Business School in London.”

Also Veroniek Collewaert is extremely proud of their achievement. “I’ve seen them evolve for the better – both in terms of their team and their venture idea. This is what we do it for – anything we can do to help those young motivated people who really want to make it as entrepreneurs!

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