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Founded in 2012, the University Industry Innovation Network began its life as a resource platform with more than 3000 available resources on university-industry interaction. Since then, founders Arno Meerman and Thorsten Kliewe have developed it into a dynamic network incorporating a wide range of initiatives to stimulate, support and foster university-industry interaction in the broadest sense. In this article, you can meet Arno Meerman and hear his views on UIIN and university-industry interaction on a wider scale.
Chief Executive Officer of the University Industry Innovation Network
How did the idea for University Industry Innovation Network first come about?
We, Thorsten Kliewe and myself, had been working in this field as researchers for quite some time already, where we saw mainly networks for technology transfer staff, science parks or something of the like. There was no one really focusing on the bigger picture of interaction between university and industry. It is so much more than transferring technology out of a university. People tend to often forget about spin-offs, collaborative student or research projects and student entrepreneurship. These and many other aspects are an important part of the collaboration and even today not looked after well enough. In the beginning, we were just providing resources on the broader topic, being it case studies, publications, videos or funding opportunities. However, it didn’t take long before we noticed we needed to bring all these people together. This led to our first UIIN conference in Amsterdam, with more than 300 participants this was an immediate success. Ever since we’ve just kept expanding, offering more services and providing various types of events in various countries.
What do you enjoy most about working in your role?
We deal with such a variety of activities, may it be operational through the organization of our events, or more content-focused through the various research projects that we’re involved in. Through the conference but also our work with the European Commission we are in the fortunate position to get a better understanding of what is going on the area of university-industry interaction on both a European as well as a global level. We then see it as our task to transfer this knowledge to our members and event participants.
What challenges do you see in the future within the field?
We seem to have made the step from ‘technology transfer’ to a more entrepreneurial and engaged university. However, now it is time to ensure the ‘ecosystem’ is integrated, including society. We’re facing numerous societal challenges, where both universities and business can play an important role when they cooperate.