18 June 2019 • HNTB
Step out of your silo and create room for partnerships
Creating room for partnerships with the business community. We all know that this is an important mission for THUAS as a networking university of applied sciences. The partnerships go much further than guest lectures, internships and project-based education. This is demonstrated by Sandra van Steenvelt, programme manager of the broad bachelor’s degree HBO-ICT and therefore of all degree programmes in the Dutch Innovation Factory (DIF) in Zoetermeer.
Sandra van Steenvelt never tires talking about it. Since 2018, the Dutch Innovation Factory has formally been a business campus within the Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag. It arose from a close collaboration between THUAS and the municipality of Zoetermeer. And it was realised with the help of 80 tech companies. Because that’s what it’s all about for Sandra: creating a playground for digital innovators, whereby education, government and businesses work together to contribute to social innovation.
That social innovation is the common driver of all the network parties. “The DIF works with innovative issues that come directly from society. How do you help businesses with their digital security? How can you use data science for optimum provision of care? How can machine learning contribute to improving education? Students, researchers, businesses and government then work together towards innovative solutions with a major social impact.”
Impact for everyone
It is not only the tech sector that benefits from the DIF, absolutely not. Sandra: “IT is everywhere and our lives will change through all the technological developments. That is why the collaboration between the university of applied sciences and the municipality is so intensive. Zoetermeer uses THUAS’ network to start up innovation labs in the neighbourhoods. And vice versa, researchers and degree programmes at THUAS have access to the municipality’s network. That partnership leads to wonderful initiatives, which benefit everyone. Consider the experiment with autonomous driving transport on the area around the DIF.”
What does all the innovation mean for education at The Hague University of Applied Sciences? “IT education has been comprehensively renewed in recent years. We have made one broad bachelor’s degree from five degree programmes, which all 1,800 students follow. Students who enrol can choose a location: The Hague, Delft or the DIF in Zoetermeer. In the DIF we work with Innovative Development, a form of education that follows developments in the outside world rather than a pre-defined programme.”
Added value for students
“DIF students therefore follow a bachelor’s degree that can respond to developments and trends,” says Sandra. “That gives them the opportunity to follow their interests and develop their talents. Moreover, brainpower and willpower are within arm’s reach: researchers and businesses. That suddenly opens up all kinds of possibilities! One great example is the VR game “Blokje Om” for children with a physical disability. It came about from a DIF partnership and was nominated as the best educative game.”
For businesses, the DIF means a completely different form of partnership. “Businesses are no longer commissioning parties, but learn, think and work actively alongside. That demands a big commitment and is invaluable. As such, in the DIF we now have a pentest hub for ethical hacking. In recent weeks the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) software was hacked. In the pentest hub, students are working with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on a solution for the cybersecurity of this global innovation summit in The Hague. It is a unique opportunity for all participants.”
Ready for challenges
In short, the DIF is brimming with valuable partnerships. It is a playground for digital innovators who in one fell swoop put THUAS firmly on the map as a networking university of applied sciences. There are of course still plenty of challenges. Which management model do you use? How do you entice people out of their own silo? How can senior secondary vocational education and training students join in? Sandra is ready to tackle any challenge. “Step into your business partner’s shoes. Then all of a sudden you get a better idea of the possibilities in your own organisation.
How do you make it happen? Networking university of applied sciencesSandra connects education, research and businesses in the Dutch Innovation Factory. This puts THUAS firmly on the map as a networking university of applied sciences