Recently, the foundations of the modern society have been impacted…
After years of engagement and fruitful collaborations with several colleagues, we are glad to welcome the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) on board as one of our newest Organisational Members. We had the pleasure of speaking with UIIN friend and project partner Dr Ingrid Wakkee, AUAS Professor of Entrepreneurship and head of the AUAS Venture Centre, to learn more about university-industry collaboration and entrepreneurship at the AUAS.
The AUAS is the largest of the higher education institutes in the Netherlands with about 50,000 students involved in 100+ bachelor and master programmes, divided over seven faculties, ranging from applied social sciences and law, to business and economics, technology, sports and nutrition, health, digital media and creative industries, and education. University-Industry Collaboration is in the institution’s DNA, which reflects in how the institution is organised in both research and education.
The AUAS is involved in applied research with approximately 60 full professorships, each with teams of researchers many of whom also have teaching responsibilities and consequently can transfer evidence-based knowledge back to the students. But this knowledge is also actively transferred outside the institution. The researchers collaborate with a range of external stakeholders including municipalities, small and medium-sized enterprises, non-governmental organisations, citizens groups, patient groups and work with field labs. To facilitate and support these collaborations, The AUAS cooperates with other Amsterdam-based institutions in the technology transfer centre Innovation Exchange Amsterdam (IXA), an interface between universities and parties interested in their research findings and knowledge, which for instance also provides support for the student entrepreneurs of the AUAS Venture Centre.
Beyond the researchers, the AUAS Venture Centre tries to encourage students to engage in more research-inspired forms of entrepreneurship. “While our students from the nutrition faculty are working on a protein in ice cream for people with diabetes, students from the education faculty are working on developing educational games.” Furthermore, student entrepreneurs in the Venture Centre are actively connected to research projects within the different professorships to provide an evidence base that will help them obtain external funding and grow their venture. A practice-driven approach rather than a curiosity-driven approach to research is therefore embedded in the AUAS.
Modernisation and future-proofing the entrepreneurship education program [is essential] to encourage sustainable and inclusive entrepreneurship”.
Over the last few years, a main focus of the institution has been the development towards becoming an entrepreneurial university, which was boosted in 2005 after receiving a grant for entrepreneurship education. The minor Entrepreneurship, which emerged from this grant, turned out to be a success, and while it is still being taught today it is now accompanied by several other entrepreneurship-related minors, honours tracks and program electives across a range of discipline areas. Within these programs, great emphasis is placed on entrepreneurial thinking and behaviour, while the Venture Centre supports the actual development and realisation of student-driven entrepreneurship initiatives.
Although collaborations and societal challenges are the core of the institution’s research projects, the AUAS also faces challenges regarding university-industry interaction. A well-known challenge, for instance, being the difference in perception and expectations of time and flexibility of industry partners, which clashes with the academic calendars of the researchers involved in teaching. “And those researchers, who receive the funding primarily for the research part and not the exploitation part of the projects, would actually like to stay involved for longer to bring the partners along the journey instead of just handing over the results.”
Ingrid’s goals for the professorship and Venture Centre for the coming years are ambitious, with a desire to “focus on modernisation and future-proofing the entrepreneurship education program, to encourage sustainable and inclusive entrepreneurship”. In addition, to further develop the Venture Centre, Ingrid wants to focus on scouting and supporting students to collaboratively work on new innovative ideas for impact-driven ventures. “I want to create more open channels across the university to scout ideas across the institution at an earlier stage”.
There has been growing interest and appetite across various colleagues at the AUAS to enhance their knowledge and interactions in relation to university-industry engagement, which has led to them signing up as an organisational member. Ingrid is definitely looking forward to on-site events again to meet the community in real life – “I always very much enjoyed the networking and meeting with other members. It has led to the creation of various partnerships and collaborations.”
We also look forward to when we can meet our colleagues from AUAS, as well as other institutions around the world, but until then, we hope you have enjoyed this insight into university-industry collaboration and entrepreneurship at the AUAS.