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Student uses experience, passion and education to net government prize

After winning a Dutch government competition with an idea for streamlining the Netherlands’ Covid-19 vaccination programme, student David Teng told us what inspires him, and about his experiences with pursuing innovative ideas in healthcare and industrial and sustainable design – and about working with his cousin Yeewah Chong. Together they won the competition and a € 15,000 prize. David is a student on the MSc Management of Innovation programme at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).



David explained how he came to enter the competition by working with his cousin Yeewah Chong, who is currently studying Economics and Business at UvA and working as a data-analyst for Guidion.

When a good idea falls into place

And it sounds as if everything fell into place when the pair heard about the competition. “Yeewah’s professor mentioned this challenge during a behavioural economics course, and she was immediately interested and decided to call me because she knew that I’m always up for these kinds of challenges.

“I would definitely work together again with Yeewah – she’s one of the most dedicated and cleverest people in my network. Besides that, she is just my favourite cousin. We have had already a fantastic connection since we were little kids!

“Yeewah has great expertise in behaviour, while I have an affinity with and experience of the field of innovation. We thought this combination would be the perfect fit for this challenge. We set up a five-day design sprint with a tight and intensive schedule. After a week of brainstorming, iterating and optimizing, we came up with a well-polished idea.”

Their idea was based on a famous 2003 study by Johnson and Goldstein, in which they show how changes in the donor system can dramatically increase the number of donors.

Automatic schedule for vaccinations

David and Yeewah proposed that vaccination appointments should be automatically scheduled at the nearest vaccination station. People can still cancel or change the appointment themselves. “Setting vaccinations as the default reduces transaction costs, such as mental effort, paperwork, and difficulty making the appointment. We hope this will lead to an increase in the number of people who are willing to take the vaccine,” he explained. Their proposed system also sends SMS reminders, with the aim of significantly reducing the number of missed and cancelled appointments.

Crowdsourcing for ideas

David previously completed a bachelor's degree in Industrial Product Design and studied entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley, California. Healthcare innovation, sustainable and circular design, and crowdsourcing ideas is a constant red thread running through his projects, internships and even his own start-up: “In the first semester of my pre-master, I followed the Innovation Management course. Here I learned about crowdsourcing – companies that engage the crowd to solve a problem by rewarding them with a prize. We discussed strategies that companies use to distinguish good and bad ideas. The Covid Behavioural Challenge was a type of crowdsourcing and I benefitted from the expertise I gained during my first premaster semester.”

Industrial design internship

Earlier, David worked on innovative design too: “I did my first internship at a healthcare start-up called Dental Robotics. As an industrial designer, I helped the company develop a toothbrush that is specifically designed for elderly care. This device is able to clean teeth within just 30 seconds!” For his graduation internship he worked as an industrial designer for Gerrard Street, an audio company. His project to develop sustainable wireless earbuds that are obtainable by subscription and are modular so can be reused, repaired, or recycled contributed to the circular economy and earned him a graduation score of 9.

Winning the innovation accelerator

And prize-winning innovation in a start-up is also part of his CV: “In 2019 I started my own start-up called Velox AI. We were developing a technology to change the way of diagnosing breast cancer using Raman spectroscopy [which provides a structural fingerprint for identifying molecules] in combination with AI. We decided to participate in the European Innovation Academy, a start-up accelerator, in Portugal in 2019. This accelerator is the world-leading entrepreneurship programme, developed through joint partnerships with professionals from the world’s top institutions including Stanford University, UC Berkeley and Google. Out of 100 start-ups, our team won the Nixon Peabody Patent Award.” The team won provisional patent costs worth €5,000 but unfortunately split up a few months ago because of personal circumstances.

“After my bachelor’s, I worked for a year as a junior designer at Keiretsu Europe, a creative concepts company in Rotterdam. During my time at this company, I designed products for several big brands like Rituals, DAF, Bit Burger, and many more.”

What’s next?

“After my MSc in Management of Innovation at RSM, I’d like to work for a big tech or healthcare company like Philips. With my background in industrial design and business knowledge, I’d hope to start there as an industrial designer, after which I could progress to a management role within the company. My biggest dream is to end up in one of the world’s biggest tech companies in the Silicon Valley. But that is just a wild dream!”


More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China. www.rsm.nl

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at mschouten@rsm.nl.

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