We were excited to launch the first-ever Energy edition of the Green Business Challenge in collaboration with New Energy Academy – part of New Energy Coalition.  The world is set to change significantly by 2030, and the energy transition is one of the biggest challenges we are facing today. It demands a rapid fossil fuel phase-down and reduction in energy dependency while simultaneously ensuring grid stability, scaling up renewable energy solutions – such as hydrogen and offshore wind technologies – and fostering collaboration between governments, businesses, and communities. To effectively manage and accomplish this transformation – particularly as an engine for the energy transition in the Netherlands –  we needed the best ideas and brightest minds to work together in shaping a sustainable and energy-efficient future in the North, and we got them!

Drivers of Change 
It was a synergising week and 6-day road trip in the Northern Netherlands, buzzing with fresh ideas and mind-blowing insights and over more than 25 international students tackling real business cases. How can governments, companies, and communities make the shift to renewable energy? How can organisations develop green business models for solar-powered products or come up with solutions for energy storage? The challenges vary each edition but are 100% real. It was sure to spark inspiration and ignite unexpected breakthroughs.

It's a wrap! 

It’s a wrap! From May 12th to 17th, 2024, The Green Business Challenge took place once again. This Energy Edition was a great success with 24 students from 17 different countries. They worked on 5 challenging cases spread over 6 days and 5 unique locations. It was a week full of hard work, new insights, and of course... around 524 cups of coffee!.

In this blog and video about the Energy Edition, we spotlight Haitjema, represented by Bas van Aggelen. This video offers a unique behind-the-scenes look and showcases the journey of a case owner during the Green Business Challenge.

A Roadtrip Powered by Innovation and Collaboration

From the moment Bas van Aggelen presented Haitjema's challenge to our newly dubbed business developers, we knew this edition would be special. The Green Business Challenge, organized by BBENG, brings together young professionals from around the world to work on complex challenges for entrepreneurs aiming to thrive in the green economy. This edition, set up in collaboration with the New Energy Academy, featured 24 students from various disciplines and fields, working on five challenging cases from companies in the northern Netherlands.

The Haitjema Challenge

Haitjema has been a leader in groundwater techniques since 1885. From supplying drinking water to implementing innovative Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) systems, Haitjema, with a strong commitment to sustainability, aims to set an example in the market by prioritizing long-term solutions that align with environmental and societal well-being.

The challenge Haitjema presented to our students was: "Help Haitjema achieve zero-emission and fossil-free equipment."

Haitjema is seeking innovative solutions to transition their equipment to zero-emission and fossil-free alternatives, focusing on sustainability without compromising operational efficiency. The Green Business Challenge can help them pioneer solutions that promote the energy transition while ensuring the continuity and reliability of their operations.

Highlights of the Energy Edition

Over six intensive days, spread across five unique locations, our teams worked on five challenging cases. With daily stand-ups, workshops, and company visits, our business developers had the opportunity to dive deep into their cases. Collaborations with companies like Haitjema, Gasunie, Graphene Pioneer, Hydrogen Prospect, and NAM were crucial to the success of this edition.

One of the highlights was the closing event at Gasunie, where the teams presented their solutions to a professional jury, a large audience, and their case owners. It was inspiring to see how students, who did not know each other before this week, collaborated and came up with innovative solutions.

Why You Should Be the Next Case Owner

As a case owner, the Green Business Challenge offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with talented young people from around the world. Our multidisciplinary teams are carefully selected based on their talents and are intensively coached by professionals. This guidance ensures that the students can reach their full potential and guarantees the value of the final products. This gives your company the opportunity to discover and implement innovative solutions. Additionally, participation promotes sustainability and finds new ways to make a positive impact on the future.

Haitjema found this experience extremely valuable, not only because of the innovative ideas that emerged from the challenge but also due to the fresh perspectives and energy the students brought.

Sign Up for the Next Edition!

Are you inspired by Bas and Haitjema's story? Do you want your company to benefit from collaborating with top international students and contribute to a more sustainable world? Sign up today as a case owner for the next edition of the Green Business Challenge!

During the Green Business Challenge, young professionals from around the world dive into the complexities of the green economy for a week and tackle real challenges for real companies. They develop new skills, build valuable friendships, and discover exciting career opportunities. Each edition has a specific theme, ranging from the circular economy and biobased economy to climate change and energy.

What started in 2021 as an idea to boost the green economy has grown into an unforgettable experience, many collaborations, and new friendships. Educational institutions, companies, governments, and students work together on business solutions that make a difference. To date, about 100 students from 20 different countries have successfully tackled 20 challenges and presented solutions for sustainable packaging, better utilization of waste streams, improving circular chains, developing biobased building materials, and contributing to various other sustainable innovation methods.


Co-created with New Energy Academy


We are proud to partner up with New Energy Academy, who also underlines the need of both skilled professionals and excellent researchers with a broad understanding of the recent challenges. This is the place where you can broaden your knowledge and acquire the information you need! New Energy Academy offers programmes designed for everyone with an interest in energy, from all levels. Do you have an interest in spatial questions? Technical challenges? Or about the social issues of the transition? Check out their Energy Learning Activities and launch your energy career!

New Energy Academy is part of New Energy Coalition, that aims to bring together researchers, entrepreneurs and policymakers to boost innovation, achieve breakthroughs in technology and knowledge and help change people’s mindset and behaviour with regard to the energy transition.


GBC Energy 2024 is co-created with:

New Energy Academy Green Business Challenge Energy 2024     
Powered by:

      Provincie FrieslandProvincie Drenthe         

University of Groningen Wubbo Ockels School of Energy & Climate  Groningen Seaports    



Are you a go-getter, a teamplayer and mean business when it comes to a green economy? Apply now and claim your spot!

Green Business Challenge


Do you want to become more sustainable and looking for a way to boost the process? Take it to the next level with the Green Business Challenge!