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Connecting Science, Business and Policy through Work Placements at the University of Groningen

The progress in science fundamentally alters the development of the modern world. Yet, for their complex nature, the latest scientific breakthroughs are frequently accessible only to a narrow pool of associated audience. If not well translated to the key drivers of societal and economic growth, e.g. entrepreneurs and policymakers, expensive forefront research and its novel findings might not be utilized to their full potential. To address this challenge, the University of Groningen and its Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) provide their masters students with the opportunity to select the Science, Business & Policy master track (SBP) as a study path, and thus bridge the dialogue between science, business and policy in a bottom up manner.

What are the prominent features of the track?

wexhe_blog_sbp-from-the-brochureSPB track is coordinated by The Science and Society Group from FSE, whose main goal is to align science with social context. The track programme is built around three course components: Acquisitions Tools & Career Management (ACTM), Introduction in to Science, Business & Policy and a full-time work placement. The ACTM course provides employability and career-path design workshops. In the introduction course, students learn about economics, business, management and policy design, solve real business cases and design and implement innovative policies. Upon the completion of the Business and Policy introduction course, students are required to put their newly acquired skills in practice and undertake a six month placement as a scientific advisor at a company or a governmental agency. They are encouraged to analyse business or policy problems that need scientific expertise to be resolved.

The programme has established long-term cooperation patterns with the partners from the world of practice. As an example, the participating students have a possibility to undertake their internships in a consultancy agency  ASC Academics BV, which makes cost and benefit analysis for innovations in pharmaceutical field.  At this internship provider, the students are able to test their analytical skills, learn how to connect the scientific expertise with the real world of innovation, and how to function in the dynamic world of business. Along with gaining invaluable experience from the workplace and supervision by both academics and practitioners, the students are expected to demonstrate tangible results at the end of their internship, which are to be further evaluated.

What are the programme accomplishments?

SBP is a unique complimentary programme in the Netherlands. The future scientists, policy makers, and entrepreneurs discover how they can effectively connect with wider audience and more thoughtfully apply their expertise for the greater good during this unique study track. Intensive business and policy courses enriched with real-life examples, multidisciplinary learning community experience, and extensive “science-to-society” internship all contribute to the achievement of the goals of the SBP. Not surprisingly, the track has demonstrated a significant impact on the employability of its graduates:  98% of the alumni find a job within a year of the completion of the programme, almost half of whom are invited by their internship provider to become regular employees. With its work-based learning approach, the track yearly delivers 65 broadly schooled scientific advisors with relevant work experience, who will further ensure the right communication among science, business and policy.

This article is based on a case study originally written by Anna Silvius (University of Groningen), developed as part of the WEXHE Project. For more information on WEXHE, please visit 

©all rights on images used in this article belong to the Science and Society Group, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Groningen

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