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Amsterdam is investing in innovation and entrepreneurship

15 Sept 2016 15:06 | Communication

Amsterdam-based knowledge institutes and the municipality of Amsterdam are investing heavily to make scientific knowledge and technology available for societal and economic applications.

IXA valorisation centre (a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam, Academic Medical Center (AMC), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) and the research institutes AMOLF and Nikhef will be collaborating closely in the new programme ‘IXAnext, Talent for innovation’. This collaboration aims to make the knowledge institutes’ knowledge and expertise more readily available for societal and private parties. Together they dedicate themselves to increasing the use and dissemination of knowledge in the region. This will be accomplished among others in the form of Innovation Labs, which will intensify cooperation with the business community and increase the support given to start-ups and spin-offs. By developing this programme, IXA is taking the next step towards professionalising and improving services in the valorisation process.

Innovation labs for the business community

One of the initiatives to intensify collaboration with the business community is the construction of innovation labs at the Amsterdam Science Park and on the VU Amsterdam campus. The universities provide businesses with access to the laboratories and research facilities at the innovation labs. The businesses also benefit from academic supervision and the latest scientific expertise.  This is appealing to SME businesses that want to have short-term research projects carried out on their behalf. IXA has already received a large number of applications from businesses. Tata Steel has expressed an interest, for example. The first innovation lab will focus on physics.

Talented Master’s students, PhD students and postdocs can also gain valuable experience in the innovation labs, working on research projects from ‘real-life’ business situations. This programme also helps students and young researchers who want to set up and develop their own business.  A programme has been developed for start-ups and spin-offs with rooms on campus where students and young researchers can go for support with starting their own business. These are all ways in which the programme invests in young talent.

Entrepreneurship education

Entrepreneurship education in Amsterdam is improved and lifted to a higher level thanks to additional measures such as the introduction of case studies, appointing a pool of mentors, and creating part-time jobs at start-ups for students. This allows entrepreneurship programmes to keep pace with the current economic conditions and market needs.

Talent for innovation

The city of Amsterdam and the knowledge institutes aim to utilize the expertise at top institutions in Amsterdam for societal and economic applications more effective and more quickly. Examples include the social robot that carries out tasks so that elderly people can continue to live at home for longer or software that creates an adaptive learning environment in which the assignments adapt to the level of the child’s ability. Both products are ‘made in Amsterdam’. Knowledge institutes and the municipality of Amsterdam will be investing approximately €38 million in valorisation over the next five years as part of the ‘Talent for innovation’ programme. Eighty percent of this amount will be provided by the knowledge institutes.  

Prosperity growth

The high concentration of knowledge institutes in the city of Amsterdam has the potential to become the driving force behind the city’s economy in the 21st century. To ensure prosperity growth in both the city and the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region, it is vital that optimal use is also made of the knowledge infrastructure and of knowledge development for economic and societal development. This will also give students, PhD candidates and researchers the opportunity to set up new, science-based businesses, in an environment where both business and entrepreneur can grow and develop.