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Column – ‘Linking business and science accelerates innovations’

The basis for innovation is the cooperation between science and innovative business; the connection between knowledge institutions and the public-private sector.

In my role as Captain of Science of the national HighTech Systems & Materials (HTSM) Top Sector, I am involved in that connection. And together with the HTSM Top Team, we are exploring how to drive future-proof collaborations in the high-tech sector.

Just think about V.O.’s motto: Activate your ideas. It is all about knowledge development in SMEs. Entrepreneurs in the high-tech sector often face a complex and rapidly changing market. For these entrepreneurs, it is important to have a long-term strategy in order to survive. To shape that strategy, it is necessary to develop knowledge and take steps towards innovation. And that is precisely why the connection with science is indispensable.

Not only do knowledge institutions need to know where the developments lie within society, but the business community also needs to know in which subjects science has already made the greatest strides. When knowledge institutions and businesses work together, cross-fertilization occurs. Scientists learn how innovation works and get potential ideas for relevant new scientific questions. Businesses can accelerate innovations thanks to new scientific insights. With proper intellectual property agreements, scientific independence is maintained.

Universities have extensive experience when it comes to innovation and research. Yet university students and SMEs often do not know how to find each other. It is logical that for SMEs, the short term is vital; results must be achieved quickly. But then they can possibly lose sight of the longer term. However, the longer term is also essential if they want to be ready for the new developments in our rapidly changing environment. An SME can work with academic students to deploy scientific insights for future-proof innovation, then slowly build collaboration with universities.

For this reason, I have founded the Groningen Engineering Business Center in Groningen. It is designed to connect students with the business community in the area. There are many opportunities here, you just have to see them!

Prof.Dr.Ir. Jacquelien Scherpen – Professor of Systems and Control Engineering, University of Groningen

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