YOUNG TALENTS 2024 – Call for applications – A resilient and fair energy transition for all

Are you a Master or a PhD student from France or the Netherlands, with innovative ideas and solutions for future-proof energy systems ? Would you like to present your ideas to top officials and renowned scientists specialised in the technological, social, economic, and policy aspects of the energy transition ?

If the answer to the above is yes, then apply for our Young Talents event “A resilient and fair energy transition for all”! The deadline for submitting your application is the 18th of September 2024 at 12:00 CET (midday).

What is the Erasmus Descartes Conference?

The Erasmus-Descartes Conference (EDC) was initiated in 2002 by the Embassy of France  in the Netherlands and theEmbassy of the Netherlands in France. The conference gathers over a hundred French and Dutch renowned experts from universities, research centers, ministries,companies and industry. They exchange knowledge and expertise to strengthen cooperation on key societal issues. The central theme of each edition differs according to the European agenda and following current developments in both countries. A resilient and fair energy transition will be the focus for the 2024 edition. The conference will take place on November 28th in Paris from 2pm to 8.30pm.

What is the Young Talents event?

The Young Talents event, part of the Erasmus-Descartes Conference, gathers talented young people from France and the Netherlands to debate and work together to find solutions for the future. The debates, ideas and questions raised by the Young Talents are intended to enrich the conference. This event offers ample networking opportunities. Click here FR / NL for an overview of the previous editions.

Whereas the Erasmus-Descartes Conference is a one day event, the Young Talents work in two interdisciplinary teams on challenges related to the topic in one month (online – own/team preparation time) and  approximately three days (in Paris – full working days) prior to the conference. During the conference, they will get to pitch with their team the results of their work to the participants of the conference, and have a unique opportunity to enter into discussion with them around the conference. In addition to the formal programme of the conference, there is time for networking and they may just find connections for their future work field.


If we want to achieve climate goals we need to accelerate the energy transition. The challenge is to reduce carbon emissions, by switching to renewable energy and phasing out fossil energy while keeping the energy supply safe and affordable. 

The Pact for innovation and sustainable growth between France and the Netherlands, signed in April 2023, marks a significant collaborative effort to address global challenges. A key element of this agreement is the work package on energy transition, which focuses on accelerating the shift to renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency. Both nations aim to leverage their expertise in green technologies and innovation to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable energy practices. This collaboration includes joint research initiatives, investments in clean energy projects, and the development of policies to support the transition. By working together, France and the Netherlands aspire to set a leading example in the fight against climate change and the advancement of sustainable development goals.

France and the Netherlands have a robust and dynamic relationship focused on advancing energy transition. Both countries are committed to international climate agreements and European Union targets, aiming for a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

This collaboration is built on a foundation of mutual interest and shared goals. France is significantly increasing its renewable energy capacity while addressing challenges such as local opposition and lengthy permitting procedures. Meanwhile, the Netherlands is striving for a completely sustainable and CO2-neutral energy system, emphasizing the importance of public support for a just transition.

Through initiatives like the Erasmus-Descartes Conference, France and the Netherlands promote bilateral cooperation, sharing expertise and best practices. This annual event serves as a platform for dialogue, bringing together young talents, experts, and policymakers to discuss innovative solutions for a sustainable energy future.

The strong partnership between France and the Netherlands not only fosters innovation but also enhances their ability to meet ambitious climate targets, ultimately contributing to a greener and more sustainable Europe.

Participants are encouraged to propose innovative ideas and solutions addressing the complexities of transitioning to sustainable energy systems. Projects should also focus on creating public support, accelerating permitting procedures, and ensuring local acceptability of energy projects.

The challenges for the Young Talents

The transition calls for major technological, social, policy and economical changes for citizens, businesses, governments, etc. Do you have innovative ideas on how this can be achieved ?  Do you want to be part of the solutions for tomorrow ? Join the Young Talents programme ! 

The challenges that you, as participants, will have to address will be based on the question: how do you deal with energy transition ? This can include for example renewable energy, carbon neutral industry, public involvement and acceptance, regulatory frameworks, resource availability, problems of an overloaded network capacity . The exact challenges related to this question will be formulated together with your team members and coaches (TBC).

Participation in the Conference

The Conference

The conference will be based on discussions between experts, scientists, stakeholders, and high-level decision makers. 

Central to this conference are exchanges on developments in research and innovation at the national, European, and international levels. This conference will comprehend four roundtables and input from several speakers. 

Alongside the various experts, the Erasmus-Descartes Conference gives the floor to the Young Talents to pitch their findings, recommendations and solutions, and discuss them with the participants. They will prepare their pitches in advance with two devoted coaches during the month prior to the conference, including the 3 days where they will meet and work in person.

You as a Young Talent

In order to be able to pitch during the Conference, you will have several working moments. During the kick-off meeting on the 24th of October 2024, you and the other participants (6 from France, 6 from the Netherlands) will meet online for an hour and a half where you will receive further information, a more detailed programme, and will be able to form two teams of six, according to the challenges that will be presented to you. Two experts (names to be confirmed), will coach you during the working sessions to help you get inspired, acquire indispensable knowledge, and get ready to participate during the conference.

In between both gatherings, you will prepare for the next step together with the rest of your team and always with the support of the coaches. No official meeting will be organized, it is then up to you and your teammates to organize your time and find one or multiple collective moments in order to work together.

In the run-up to the conference, you will all meet in person in Paris at the Collège Néerlandais. In the programme, next to meeting with various experts in the field, there will be plenty of time to work and do pitch training. During the conference, each team will have 5 minutes to pitch in front of the panelists and wide audience. Later in the evening, a networking moment will be organized giving you the opportunity to further discuss your ideas and thoughts with the high-level participants of the conference.

Please note that it is possible to receive a certificate of attendance. PhD students from the Netherlands may therefore be able to claim some credits. 

Preliminary programme

24 OctoberPreparation meeting (online): 
– Kick-off & introduction
– Setting up teams and challenges
24 October – 25 NovemberContact with team members and coaches, preparing the challenge per team – each team decides how they want to manage their time
25 NovemberMorning: Travel to Paris
Afternoon: Start & catch-up
25 – 28 NovemberWorking sessions: work on the challenges, group preparation, coaching, feedback sessions and pitch training
Afternoon of the 27th : Fine tune pitches
28 NovemberMorning:  Fine tune pitches – last mile
Afternoon & evening: Erasmus Descartes Conference 
29 NovemberTravel back home

Practical information


The Young Talents event is organized by the Embassy of France in the Netherlands, the Institut français NL, the Embassy of the Netherlands in France, the French-Dutch Network for research and higher education, and Nuffic, which is the Dutch organization for internationalization of education.


Collège Néerlandais Paris


October 24th online and November 25th, 26th, and 27th in Paris consecutively participating in the Erasmus-Descartes Conference on November 28th.

For whom

MA, PDEng and PhD students aged between 20 and 35 years old with good conversational understanding of English are eligible to apply for this event. International students are also invited to apply.

We are looking for student from scientific domains such as, but not exclusively:

  • Political science / Economics 
  • Engineering / Physics / Chemistry 
  • Public administration 
  • Urban planning
  • Humanities and social sciences 
  • Data and computer sciences
  • Environmental studies 
  • Law

Students from other academic disciplines who feel they could contribute to this challenge are also welcome to apply.


The working sessions between Young Talents and the Erasmus Descartes Conference will be entirely in English.


The organizers will cover the costs of transportation (travel to and from Paris + public transport on-site) and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). They will also arrange accommodation (four nights). You are responsible for the costs of any other expenses yourselves. The participation in the Young Talents event does not involve any initial expenses for the participants.


All 12 selected participants will attend both the online meeting and the physical 4-day session in Paris. Participation in the full programme is mandatory. Any unjustified failure (absenteeism, inappropriate behavior) will lead to exclusion from further participation in the Young Talents event.

How to apply

  • Step 1

    Fill in the application form. You will be asked to submit your CV (Pdf / jpeg / png) and 3 short texts answering the following questions :

  • Give an overview of all the projects you have been working on related to the topic, including content and your specific role.

  • In about 200 words, briefly describe your relationship to the main theme of the event: “Quantum Technology”: What projects regarding this topic have you been or are you currently working on? Why do you want to be part of Young Talents? What are your motivations regarding Quantum technology?

  • In about 200 words, tell us what are your preliminary ideas when it comes to innovating in quantum technology, especially when it comes to quantum applications ?

  • Step 2

    Preselection – As soon as the deadline has passed, a first selection process will be made. You will receive an email with the decision.

  • Step 3

    If you are preselected we will ask you to participate in a short online meeting beginning of October (date and time to be confirmed). You will have the possibility to choose a timeslot of 5min out of a list. You will be asked to pitch in 3 minutes your motivation and interest in why you should participate in the Young Talents event on Energy Transition.

  • Step 4

    Final selection. You will receive via mail the final decision. If you are selected, you will receive more information about the next steps in order to prepare your participation. 

Application form


Contacts: Coralie Ostertag and Joost Overwater