Ever since 1998, the Trophées Performance awards have been rewarding the most innovative work done byfinal-years students from universities, engineering graduate schools and business schools.The contest is open to postgraduate students (in their fifth year of further education) working on their end-of-course thesis (PFE, TFE, etc. in France) and prepared to present that thesis to a judging panel of Veolia Environment professionals. The topics addressed must relate to Veolia’s divisional business segments (water, energy, environmental services and transport).We (Reinoud Feenstra & Sid Vollebregt) participated in the 2012 edition in the water category. With our thesis about the design, implementation and evaluation of a solar driven desalination system for decentralized ndrinking water production, we managed to get through the reading committee, who judge the submitted thesis and poster presentation.The next step was an oral presentation in front of the Veolia expert panel at the headquarters in Paris, in walking distance of the Arc de Triomphe. We travelled down to Paris to convince them of the level of innovation and importance of the work we performed in a year during our thesis, in a time set of only 15 minutes.Some weeks later we got the news that we succeeded and were announced winners in the water category. We were invited for the award ceremony on the 5th of December in Paris, together with our supervisor Bas Heijman. We enjoyed the fast service of the Thalys and were handed a ticket to Chicago including some travel money and 3000 euro research money for the department of Sanitary Engineering of the TU Delft. It was a rewarding experience and offered a good insight in such a big water company as Veolia.