In 2003, a small group of university science professors at Utrecht University started a program for gifted higher secondary education students in their region, as to provide them with proper challenges and to bring them into contact with what was going on in universities. In 2004, the first group of 23 students from 10 schools participated in the program, called ‘Junior College Utrecht’ (JCU), through coming to university campus two days per week during their final two years of high school. JCU became part of the Freudenthal Institute for science and mathematics education in 2010.
In 2013, the JCU program changed into the U-Talent Academy, to involve more students, who visited the university campus less frequently to engage in enrichment activities. In addition, a connection was made to the Utrecht Regional Support Centre in the development of teaching materials and professional development activities for science and mathematics teachers.
This collaboration led to the creation of the current program called U-Talent. The scope of the program broadened from focus on gifted students to motivated students, and from activities for students and teachers to a more general network function. Currently, the U-Talent partners are Utrecht University, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, and fifty secondary schools. The Freudenthal Institute is responsible for the program, supported by coordinators from departments and institutes, and in close cooperation with coordinators in all schools.