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VU talents win prizes at VU Amsterdam’s New Year’s Gala

28 January 2022
From a successful initiative to reduce maternal mortality in Somalia to a new programme for students that radically changes the 'outdated' mentor-tutor system. On Thursday, during the New Year’s Gala, the winners of the VU awards showed that our university is bursting with talent.

A shower of prizes during the musical New Year's Gala! Together with theatre makers Emma van Muiswinkel and Bart Sietsema and new rector Jeroen Geurts, host Ernest van der Kwast put educational heroes, top students and fantastic supporters in a well-deserved spotlight. And there were many: the Bachelor and Master Thesis Prize, the Tribute to Support Staff, the Teacher Talent Prize, the Student Talent Prize, the Innovation Prize and the Student Start-up Competition. Diverse awards and winners, but all of them enterprising, ground-breaking and tremendous go-getters.

Ramla Jamac's start-up MobileUurka, for example, ensures that pregnant Somali women for whom care is difficult to access are nevertheless helped and properly informed. To this end, she developed an app that allows midwives to follow them remotely. For this fantastic contribution to reducing maternal mortality, Ramla was rightly awarded the StudenTalent Prize. She won a sum of money and a coaching programme with VU alumnus Leonard Witkamp, medical director and founder of Ksyos, the largest digital healthcare institution in the Netherlands.

The Grand Innovation Prize went to the Faculty of Law, where the mentor and tutor system dating back to 1971 was successfully upgraded to the unique coaching programme 'Personal and Professional Identity (PPI)' (Persoonlijke en Professionele Identiteit). New were the prizes for best start-ups. Don't be surprised to see toilet paper made from bamboo in the supermarket soon, or to see manufacturers trace their waste using a barcode!

Are you curious about the performances of the other winning talents and the 'smartest person' from the online audience? Check out VU Amsterdam’s New Year's Gala at

The winners
Bachelor Thesis Prize: Andrew Tan
Master Thesis Prize: Tim Mocking
StudentTalent Prize: Ramla Jamac
Teacher Talent Prize: Alexander Bijnsdorp
Innovation Prize: Personal and Professional Identity (PPI) - Faculty of Law
VU + ASIF Student Startup Competition: Bambooi (VU + ASIF Best Startup), Madglove (Best Social Entrepreneurship Startup), ReAlliance (Best Sustainability Startup)
Supporters of the year: Marike ten Horn and Robbert Loots 

Read the jury report here (in Dutch). 

Get to know the VU talents
What drives the nominees and winners? Watch the videos about some of these inspiring talents and get to know them better.

Student Talent Prize
Yatou Sallah
Suraj Harylallsingh 
Ramla Jamac (winner)

Alumnus Leonard Witkamp (Ksyos), coach of the StudenTalent 

Innovation Prize
Diversifying Philosophy Through Training High School Teachers  
harmaceutical helpdesk for consumer questions on medicines 
Entrepreneurship with impact for social scientists 
Personal and Professional Identity (PPI) (winner)