Universities want to have a greater impact

Universities want to have a greater impact

If it were up to universities and teaching hospitals, the Netherlands would be the best in Europe at translating science into practical and commercial applications. This will only cost 50 million euros a year.

Photo: ThisIsEngineering/Pexels

The Netherlands should be Europe’s “valuation hotspot” by 2030, according to countries in a new plan To increase the social and economic impact of scientific knowledge. In addition to universities and their medical centers, TNO and the Netherlands Cancer Institute participate.

The plan comes from the Knowledge Transfer Offices (KTOs), the departments that support researchers and students in the practical application of scientific insights. They help start businesses and sell ideas.

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In the coming years, they want to cultivate an “ecosystem” for valuation, with good cooperation between all parties, “exploration” of applicable knowledge and funding for promising ideas.

The first reactions are skeptical. like him Writes Well-known virologist Marion Koopmans on Twitter: “Boh, even more? Where are the times when you were allowed to practice science to gain knowledge. The Netherlands is already known for its appreciation, and in my circles there is no positive response only to this. “

But valuation is one of the primary tasks of universities, says VSNU University Consortium President Peter Duisenberg.

How does this plan relate to other programs intended to encourage valorization, such as the National Science Agenda, the National Growth Fund and the higher sectors?

“The plan is from the KTOs, who have been working together for several years. Their job is to ensure that knowledge returns to the community. They just want to do it to the best of their ability. They have been around for a number of years, but are relatively young compared to similar agencies abroad. They can achieve more. “.

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Not making enough valuation?

We have already said in 2019 that we want to encourage an entrepreneurial culture, for example through entrepreneurship classes. We also want to improve the valuation infrastructure, including early financing for spin-off companies.”

You are requesting 1.1 billion euros in additional funding annually. Is this plan intended to show politicians that such an investment is paying off?

“The 1.1 billion euros is for arranging the basics, which is also important for valuation. But society and politics have certain expectations and we want to make them tangible. With this we are sending a message to the politicians.”

You want to prevent “valuation politics” and give “decision-making power” to a national focal point. Does this not affect the independence of institutions?

On the one hand, a lot of cooperation is needed, and on the other hand, you also have to make critical decisions. Above all, it means: We have to make decisions and choices. It seems to me a realistic estimate of what will be required in the long run.”

KTOs also want to create support for the plan. Shouldn’t this have been there before the plan came along?

“It’s like ‘the chicken or the egg.’ You need a plan for people to support you, but without support your plan won’t take off. What matters is that we want to make full use of science, including through evaluation. Society expects the same from us,” she points out. KTOs to what is needed.”

Appreciation here and there already seems to play a major role, for example in Eindhoven. Will the whole of the Netherlands soon have to follow the example of the TU / e?

“There are more examples. Amsterdam, for example, has many startups, which is a world ranking that was revealed recently. We can really learn from each other and from good examples from abroad. There is still a lot of potential.”

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