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In an interview with UIIN, Tijs van Es shared his insights into the most recent developments at Breda University of Applied Sciences on the inclusion of Connection to Industry as a new pillar of the university central strategy, as well as discussing the opportunities and vision on the newly established Innovation Square in creating new synergies for innovation.
HT: Can you shortly tell us about your role in Breda UAS as a facilitator of university-industry collaboration?
TvE: Among my other roles, I have been working in the position of Programme Manager for Connection to Industry. This has come after a recent development we have had in our strategy where we added the 5th pillar ‘Connection to Industry’ among our central strategies, as an addition to four others.
HT: What is this new pillar expected to change in the industry engagement activities of the university?
TvE: Industry collaboration has always had a prominent place within our strategy, but to place it a centrally as the 5th pillar, is a new step forward. When you put it centrally as a separate one it creates a lot of attention. Now we have a few streams moving into the same direction of development, including e.g. building up of our new campus. We used to have four different locations, and our academies were scattered out to different locations, for a long time. This led to most faculties in the university grow into islands, and create their own structure of working with the industries. With us moving together in one campus these structures will all come together, allowing industry relations finding crossovers. For this, we acquired an old monastery next to our original main location of the university. Our goal is to first physically bring together buildings and people to develop the campus environment, and second, strategically bring together services and rethink crossovers that will feed on the physical closeness.
HT: How do you plan to facilitate the culture change that will come along?
TvE: We already have a good culture of collaboration and good connection to the industry. However, we tend to act reactively, in a way that industry comes to us, we see it coming, and we act upon it. Our challenge is to move from reactive to a proactive approach to industry collaboration, by asking who the partners are we would like to work with, what our partnership proposition is, and the value we get out of this collaboration. We tend to serve the industry without much reflection on our needs, which is something in our DNA. Our goal is to bring more value to existing partnerships, and asking what value we can offer to each other. We want partnerships to be established in multiple levels – students are involved in, cases are provided by the companies, internships are being offered, the staff is part of joint research projects, and maybe professors are working in the company. It is this strategic approach that brings in the most value.
HT: How do you think these efforts will be realised, and have an impact internally and in the region?
TvE: We are a medium size UAS, built around eight domains of focus and hosting around seven thousand students. Our areas of expertise are very specific: We offer programs in the domains leisure and events, Hotel, Facility, Games, Media, Tourism, Logistics and Built Environment, with collaboration to the specific industry, which already gives us a good head start. We reserved 1200 square meters area in the campus, specifically dedicated to the shared space called ‘Innovation Square’ to stimulate crossovers among the domains. This space is where we will execute our central strategy. The goal is to allow industries and communities coming in, as well as having our staff and students going out into the ecosystem.
The full interview is featured in The University-Industry Innovation Magazine (UIIM) – Issue January 2020.
University-Industry Innovation Magazine | Universities of Applied Sciences as Regional Powerhouses | Issue January 2020 highlights the successful engagement experiences of universities of applied sciences as regional powerhouses.
The University-Industry Innovation Magazine showcases interesting stories from different international stakeholders on their activities and endeavours in university-industry interaction. For more information and to download your copy of the University-Industry Innovation Magazine visit our website www.uiin.org.
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Photo Credit: Business Square, Breda UAS