Universiteit Leiden

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Three under-30s

Elsevier Weekblad has chosen 30 Dutch talents under the age of 30. They include Leiden alumni Mátyás Bittenbinder (biology), Hielke Onnink, (Public Sector Management) and Baris Koca (law).

Most of the talents under 30 in Elsevier Weekblad’s list are academics in a wide range of fields. But there are also athletes, musicians and artists. ‘For all these under-30s the best is yet to come,’ the magazine writes. 

Why have the three Leiden alumni been chosen?


A photo of Mátyás Bittenbinder who is one of the 30 talents under 30.
Halve snake-bite deaths...

Mátyás Bittenbinder (29) - Biology

Mátyás’ ambition is to halve in ten years the number of people in the world who die of a snake bite, now around 100,000. The problem at the moment is that an antidote is often not available quickly enough. Mátyás appears regularly in the media to explain all about snake venom. He now works at VU Amsterdam and Naturalis Biodiversity Center, with Freek Vonk as one of his supervisors. Last year VU Amsterdam and Naturalis made an important breakthrough, when they managed to make snake venom in the lab. Snake venom is needed for new treatments, so this breakthrough means it no longer needs to be extracted from real snakes.

A photo of Hielke Onnink who is one of the 30 talents under 30.
Bring back student grants... (© Dirk Hol)

Hielke Onnink (23) - Master’s in Public Sector Management

Political talent Hielke was even younger than his current age of 23 when he was chosen in 2019 as chair of the CDJA, the youth wing of the CDA party. Having only just graduated himself, he called for the reintroduction of student grants. He is hoping that he and the CDJA will succeed. He also wants the centrist CDA to attract a new group of voters. Hielke did his bachelor’s degree in Groningen but headed for Leiden’s Campus The Hague for his Master’s in Public Sector Management. 

A photo of Baris Koca who is one of the 30 talents under 30.
Mergers and takeovers, corporate social responsibility and equal opportunities... (© Dominique van Dreven)

Baris Koca (28) - Law

Not yet 30, but Baris already advises big companies and organisations on mergers and acquisitions for the Allen & Overy law firm. He also manages such processes. This can be complicated, not least because of the different business cultures that have to be blended. Via Allen & Overy and the international One Young World youth conference, he advocates corporate social responsibility, equal opportunities and sustainability. He also studied law at Tsinhua University in Beijing.

Text: Corine Hendriks

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