Netherlands Exchange Programme

In October 2017, three Malaysian students had the opportunity to take part in the first student exchange programme to Groningen, Netherlands.

Bryan Chin from Tenby International School, Ipoh, Zhi Yen Yow from SMJK Ave Maria Convent, Ipoh, and Ji Hong Lok who is home-schooled made history when they embarked on their journey to the Netherlands.

The Netherlands Student Exchange Programme is a collaboration between Direct Academia International (DAI) and design thinking lab, InnovativeLab in Groningen.

The Groningen InnovativeLab functions as an incubator which supports organisations and entrepreneurs in the design process. Their projects include providing business solutions to city councils and design-thinking training for corporate companies.

While in the Netherlands, the three students underwent ten days of lab experience where they were exposed first-hand to local entrepreneurship and human-centred design. They visited an algae production plant, a vertical farming site and even volunteered their services at a soup kitchen.

At the end of the programme, the Malaysian trio presented an impressive business plan in the form of a shopping mall.

“The shopping mall focuses on environmental issues and is capable of keeping produce fresh,” Bryan explained. “It’s self-sustaining and the supermarket even has a farm in it, not to mention a gigantic fish tank!” Lok added.

Managing Director of DAI, Shannon Lee shares that the programme is one of its initiative to redefine education by encouraging students to create meaningful local solutions to global problems such as food shortage.

Audrey Kwan, the Arts and Learning Director added that design thinking is a vital element in professional practices. It brings technology and business closer to the people’s needs, creating more values in entrepreneurship.

“We’re more than proud to work with InnovativeLab Groningen to develop the next generation of Malaysian entrepreneurs who’ll be capable of tackling global issues,” Managing Director of DAI, Shannon Lee, commented.

DAI currently offers two student exchange programmes – one in the United Kingdom and the other in the Netherlands. They are now interviewing students for the 2018 exchange programme.

For more information, please contact Audrey at 017 228 2304 or email

Amy Chan

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