| 8 minute read

Inclusivity, innovation, and impact: The Hague University of Applied Sciences

Lauren Kroemer-Pope
The interior of the main building of The Hague University of Applied Sciences

A warm welcome to our new Initiator member , The Hague University of Applied Sciences (THUAS). In this interview, we explore the university’s commitment to applied research, regional collaboration, and inclusivity. Join us in conversation with Jacqueline van Marle, Head of Global Strategy & Community Hub, and Liliya Terzieva, Professor Designing Value Networks, as we discuss the institutions goals: from regional to international.

What are your main reasons for joining UIIN?

Looking at the strategic mission of the Hague University of Applied Sciences, it very much ties in with the mission of UIIN. We are an applied sciences university, and this is not only in the name – we are also very well connected to practice. Our mission is centred around university-industry-innovation and collaboration as well as aiming to create and sustain an ecosystem that can help make the universities of tomorrow future-proof.

As a university of applied sciences, we are hugely anchored in the region that we are situated in. And this is a very innovative region, where education, training, coaching, and entrepreneurship go hand in hand with collaboration with external stakeholders. In the Hague, there is already an ecosystem that is very much embedded, where education and research are really working together on how to enhance the learning journey and outcomes for students. We already have excellent public-private partnerships at the university.

We are trying to connect our research and bring all our methodologies to be closer in line with applications and practice. Part of this journey involves immersing ourselves into all the UIIN publications about challenging and transforming education.

What are your institutional goals in terms of university-industry engagement?

Our three core overarching institutional themes are digitalisation, just society and sustainability. And for all these themes we have Centres of Expertise, faculties with study programmes and research groups. So we have diverse goals in terms of university-industry engagement. Our institutional goal in terms of university-industry engagement would be to open up and go beyond the borders of an institution to becoming a wider ecosystem where impact can happen.

We have a local, regional and international focus. By working within these networks, we also play an emancipatory role for our students in the sense that we strive to give them opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have. On top of this, a large focus of our strategy is creating an inclusive community; about one third of our students come from a multicultural or bicultural background, another third are Dutch and the final third are international students, so it is a really unique mix.

In terms of digitalisation, we do not use technology for the sake of it per se, but as an instrument to empower the citizens of tomorrow and towards creating a just society. We want to continue to strive towards dynamic transitions towards justice and sustainability.

Our connections within the region are very strong. We start from local experimentation, and then we extrapolate the findings to the national and international field to create value. Our ambition is to do even more of this.

To make more partnerships with industry across our three themes and also with the vertical topics that are relevant to our region such as agriculture, infrastructure, energy and regenerative economy.

Can you share with us some of your institutional success stories in terms of university-industry engagement?

We recently initiated an alliance called the South Holland Impact Alliance with four universities of applied sciences. Within this alliance, we work together with local municipalities to help solve the major social challenges in the region; labour market shortages, rising health costs, disparities in health issues, as well as threats in the area of security and sustainability. And when we talk about sustainability, we talk about it in the broadest sense, covering all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). So not just climate, but also issues of inclusion and good governance.

We are also working on international alliances. Within Europe, we are part of The Hague Network of seven universities in Spain, Italy, Czech, UK, Finland, Germany, and us where we are working on a program about green competencies. The idea of the network is fulfilling the local skill needs but at the same time learning from our counterparts in other European countries who have similar issues. We also work very closely with the City of the Hague and some regional municipalities as part of this project too.

On the topic of living labs, we have fantastic success stories, particularly in retail. Through the group Designing Value Networks the university has been able to make an impact with Future Proof Retail, both locally in 22 labs throughout the Netherlands, and nationally through partnership with the industry, with the Retail Innovation Platform, close collaboration with 14 municipalities, 6 Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) and 3 Technical & Vocational Educational Training (TVET). The approach to this project has become an example for the government of how to work both locally and nationally and how to collaborate with so many partners. We play a key role in igniting or designing these labs and analysing the impact of them and trying to create a positive multiplier effect. The labs continue to function even when our role in the initiation and design fades away.

What challenges have you faced when developing these initiatives?

We have spoken a lot about external networks, but of course, to make these work, we have to have strong internal networks. Over this past year we have really made some progress on this. We have started several internal networks. One of these is for external relations, which involves bringing together people across the university on this topic. Being a large university, with 26,000 students and 2,500 staff, it is a challenge to make sure that your internal network is aligned so that you can connect well externally.

Additionally, we believe in Europe one of our biggest challenges is that traditional research-focused, academic universities have so far been the one’s to receive the lion’s share of research funding over the years. It is only now that UAS’s start appearing on the research funding agenda.

And one of the reasons for this is that universities of applied sciences managed to get together and form the UASNL, which is a network of UAS which objective is to promote applied research within Europe. We think we have been making a lot of progress here, but in general it has been a challenge for UAS to be recognized as a key player on the map within the European Union.

By nature we certainly are looking through the lens of generating impact. So, there can be seen plenty of opportunities to do so within the challenges mentioned above as well. The way THUAS has been developing in these areas is truly something we can be proud of. And these processes do take time. It is not the revolutionary, but the evolutionary principle that is taking place. And this is a challenge in itself of course because time is not a resource we have in abundance. We have to act upon these changes, transitions, and innovations fast and embark on the journeys of experimentation, realizing the uncertainty they bring along.

Hopefully, by being a member of all these networks, such as UIIN, we can do a bit of work from the outside in to accelerate this culture of openness and innovation.

Which areas or topics do you wish to develop further or learn more about?

On area we would definitely like to develop further in is entrepreneurship. We have recently joined an alliance, called Start for Future, one of the Europe’s most dynamic and fastest-growing innovation alliances, uniting academia, startups, industry, and public organizations. With a vision to enable cross-University, cross-sectorial innovation for nurturing entrepreneurial mindsets and contributing to development in Europe and hopefully beyond. We know that UIIN has a lot of expertise in the themes of entrepreneurship, spin-offs, and valorisation. These are definitely topics that we would really like to learn more about and become more involved with and dive into forming new strategic partnerships.

A headshot from Jackie van Marle   A headshot from Liliya Terzieva

Jacqueline van Marle and Liliya Terzieva

If you would like to learn more about The Hague University of Applied Sciences,
you can contact Jacqueline van Marle or Liliya Terzieva.

Ready for more?

If you enjoyed this article, check out our podcast The power of Innovation Districts: How to build stronger communities or read our article Positive outcomes that come from being an engaged, innovative and entrepreneurial university.

Lauren Kroemer-Pope (interviewer) is the Outreach and Partnerships Specialist at UIIN.

Tasha Day (author) is a Project officer at UIIN, where she undertakes research activities and creates content on a wide variety of topics including entrepreneurship education, sustainability and research valorisation.

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