Three students firmly believe in new digital meeting place

Cas Jongerius, Kristof Fellegi en Jorrit Berendsen ontwikkelden Konjoin. Eigen foto Konjoin.

Recently Cas Jongerius, Jorrit Berendsen and Kristof Fellegi launched the second version of their platform Konjoin. Users of the platform – students and scientists – can show each other what research projects they’re working on. At the same time, they can use Konjoin to find initiatives they’re interested in. The three students think there’s a huge market for a digital meeting place like Konjoin, where people can connect.

Kristof Fellegi: “When we started our master’s in Business Informatics last year, we were told it’s important to connect with other scientists and to work on interdisciplinary research projects. So we started searching. But to our disappointment, we were unable to find any kind of overview of current research projects – let alone a database.”

So last January, the three decided to build their own platform. They were encouraged in their work by professor Marijk van der Wende, who was university Dean Graduate Studies until this year. She’s an enthusiastic proponent of interdisciplinary collaboration during master’s studies and PhDs.  Fellegi is a member of the Graduate Student Think Tank, in which students study the ways in which studying and researching in master’s studies and PhDs can be made more interesting or attractive.

As a student, you can’t find an overview of research projects

During the curse ICT Entrepreneurship, the trio designed a prototype of the platform. Last summer, Konjoin was launched. So far, it already lists more than forty registered projects. Fellegi: “So far, it’s mostly projects by students and researchers from the Faculty of Science, but we’d really love to see people from other disciplines join us as well.”

Cas Jongerius adds: “We’re expecting to see a big increase in the number of listed projects and registered users very soon, and we’re inviting everyone to take a look.”

At the moment, the three are working on a user case that’s aimed at convincing the university of Konjoin’s possibilities. They’re hoping the platform can provide a clearer view of possible research projects or theses for students, and ways to get in touch with scientists working on similar topics. Fellegi: “Right now, you just have to be lucky enough to have a supervisor who knows a lot about the current supply, or you’re going to be searching for something that suits you for a long time. And sometimes, these supervisors know an interesting topic to pursue, but they don’t know how to reach the students who might want to do it. An online overview is much more efficient, and will save everyone a lot of time.”

Professors are often unaware of everything that’s being done in Utrecht

Isn’t it true that Konjoin will be more beneficial to students than to scientists, who have often already built a network of their own? Fellegi disagrees. “Junior researchers often haven’t had a chance to build that network yet, and are curious about what others are working on. But at the same time professors tell us they think it’s a good initiative, and say that often, they’re unaware what’s being done in Utrecht in other disciplines. Turns out, the university is still a rather big place. Something like that can only be solved digitally.”

Fellegi hopes Konjoin can also have a future as a commercial product. The idea is that universities and other interested organizations pay for access to and use of the platform. This would create opportunities for employees and students to find new possibilities for partners, and possibly, eventually, new funds for their research.

Jorrit Berendsen says Konjoin has the ambition to provide funding to research projects. “Eventually, we’d like to invest a part of our profits in the most innovative projects on our platform.”

We want to invest in research projects

When asked about his ultimate ambition, Kristof Fellegi smiles. “We’d go global. I’m an optimist. And I’d think of people outside of academia using Konjoin. Imagine you’re 50 years old, and you’re working a job that’s driving you towards a burn out. Konjoin would be a place where you could find all kinds of inspiring projects that you, with your specific expertise, could contribute to. How great would that be?”

Interested in trying out Konjoin? Click here.