VU Amsterdam students win first prize for vaccination plan
Students of VU Amsterdam’s Master’s in Business Analytics have won first prize in a competition to work out the logistics of a national vaccination programme. The jury was impressed by the team’s submission, which was developed by a number of sub-teams including students from the universities of applied sciences of Arnhem, Nijmegen, Rotterdam and Utrecht.
02/25/2021 | 12:49 PM
The government’s Top Sectors programmes for Logistics, LSH, ICT and the Creative Industries asked Dutch researchers to jointly submit proposals for the vaccination challenge. The researchers were asked to develop an integrated logistics concept for the Covid vaccination programme to enable rapid, safe, responsible and accurate vaccination of 95 per cent of the Dutch population. In addition to a robust logistics model, the challenge was also to develop an effective PR campaign and to foster public support for this precision operation.
A large-scale vaccination campaign cannot be considered from a single perspective. For example, a logistically sound solution need not necessarily be the optimal solution from the perspective of the public who are being vaccinated. If the elderly have to travel long distances and then wait in the cold for a shot, they will be less prepared to participate, while without a carefully planned logistics operation it will be impossible to achieve the required efficiency and speed of vaccination.
A jury chaired by Albert Veenstra, scientific director of TKI Logistics, awarded the first prize to the student project entitled ‘A fast and responsive supply chain’. This project was supervised by lecturer Dennis Moeke of HAN University of Applied Sciences and professor Rob van der Mei of VU Amsterdam and the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica research centre.
The sub-project of the VU Amsterdam students developed a universal simulation tool based on algorithms. This tool provides insight into choices and consequences in a dashboard to support decision-making and foster social acceptance. The model of this tool can also be deployed for other pandemics and strategies. The jury was impressed with the integrality of the plan, which pays thorough attention to both the registration process for users and the logistics process itself. The team comprising Tara Zver, Nina Malbasic, Renze Dijkstra, Berend Markhorst and Daan Otto won the first prize worth €10,000.
A student team from Erasmus University Rotterdam won second prize with a thorough analysis of aspects of the logistics model, in which they identified national and international best practices. Henri Boersma of Maastricht University Medical Centre shared the second prize with a proposal to use the distribution and infrastructure networks of supermarkets to bring vaccinations closer to the people.