The campuses in Limburg are doing well

june 5, 2018

Response to the report “Analysis and added value of campuses in the Netherlands”

The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Network of Knowledge Cities in the Netherlands commissioned Buck Consultants International to create the report “Analysis and added value of campuses in the Netherlands”. Released today, the report also covers the four Brightlands campuses. The general conclusion that the campuses in the Netherlands are doing well also naturally applies to the four Brightlands campuses in Limburg.

The report takes a particular look at the campuses that have been around longer. In Limburg, this includes the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen and the Maastricht Health Campus in Maastricht, both of which play a significant role in the Netherlands as well as on an international level. The researchers compared the growth rates in employment at the campuses with that seen in the cities where the campuses are located during the period from 2014 to 2018. This comparison revealed that job opportunities at the Maastricht Health Campus grew by 74% as compared with a 0% growth rate in the municipality of Maastricht. The Brightlands Chemelot Campus experienced a growth rate of 27% compared with a 7% growth in employment in the municipality of Sittard-Geleen.

Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen and Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo are still too new to yield any meaningful comparison between the campuses and the municipalities in which they are located. These campuses are however also developing at an impressive rate as centers for innovation in the areas of smart services and healthy nutrition.

Brightlands campuses are “real” campuses
The researchers have established that the four Brightlands campuses all satisfy the official criteria required to qualify as a campus. A focus on R&D and/or technology-driven activity is one of these requirements. The campus must also offer high-quality physical options for establishing a business and have on-site research facilities. The third condition is the presence of major centers of expertise (university, university medical center, research institute, R&D center of a large company active internationally). Finally, active open innovation is an important characteristic for a campus. In the research on 82 campus initiatives, only 35 qualify as “real” campuses.

Responses from Brightlands and Deputy Van den Akker
The CEOs of the four Brightlands campuses are pleased to see that this independent report has confirmed how important campus development is to the province of Limburg and the Euregion. The results serve as validation for the course Brightlands is pursuing, and for the development and ambitions of the four Brightlands campuses. The ecosystem of international entrepreneurs, researchers and students is starting to bear fruit. The cross-pollination with partners in the immediate area is also important, such as that occurring between the companies at the Chemelot industrial park and the campus in Sittard-Geleen, the MUMC+ teaching hospital and the Maastricht campus and the agri-food sector in Northern Limburg and the campus in Venlo. Another key for success is cross-pollination between the campuses themselves; smart data (Heerlen campus) is essential to the development of healthy nutrition, sustainable chemistry and innovations in the health sector.

The CEOs of the Brightlands campuses will discuss the Buck Consultants International report with the shareholders and stakeholders. This will be followed by an assessment of the degree to which the generally formulated areas of special attention and recommendations are relevant for Brightlands.

Joost van den Akker, Deputy for Economic Affairs and Infrastructure for the Province of Limburg: “The report confirms that the strategy we are pursuing at the campuses is a good one. Once again, the collaboration at the campuses proves to be an excellent fit for the current network structure in which knowledge, skills and resources are all brought together by knowledge institutes, business and government. The report also reveals substantial growth in employment. In short, these are all great developments.”  

Research recommendations
One of the recommendations raises the point that the growth of activity at the campuses means an intensification of the “battle for talent”. This is why national and international campaigns and programs designed to attract and keep more highly educated people from abroad are urgent. The promotion of the campuses, particularly in the international arena, is also crucial.

The report also asserts that in order to foster the development of the campuses and the need for innovation, it is crucial for knowledge institutes, companies/campus owners, municipalities, regions and provinces to take the lead, at both a local and regional level, to facilitate and stimulate the growth of the campuses. At a national level, campuses must be assigned a more prominent role in national business and top sector policies.

Other areas of special attention for campuses include the development of real estate and business facilities, the accessibility of the campuses and a focus on talent, sharing of research facilities, exchanging knowledge, and business development and marketing.

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