AUAS raises its voice in EU research policy circles

2 Jun 2023 00:00 | Communication

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) is doing its part to ensure that European policymakers understand the value and impact of research conducted at universities of applied sciences (UAS). During recent European networking meetings in Brussels, AUAS showcased examples of how it is working closely with regional and international stakeholders to support the EU’s aim to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and to support innovation among SMEs.

At the end of May, more than 200 experts working in higher education and research policy gathered in Brussels for the annual UAS4EUROPE conference. The event, Halfway to the Horizon, focused on reviewing Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, from the perspective of the applied sciences. The Netherlands is chair of the UAS4EUROPE network in 2023. Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf gave a keynote speech, pointing out that there are only two types of research: applied research, and not-yet applied research.

The AUAS was involved in various events during the week.

Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf at the UAS4EUROPE event 'Halfway to the Horizon'.

Climate-neutral Europe by 2050

AUAS Rector Geleyn Meijer moderated a workshop during the UAS4EUROPE conference, focusing on the Horizon Europe research funding framework cluster 5 that aims to address the challenges of Climate, Energy & Mobility. Through their regional orientation, UAS can substantially contribute to the EU objective of climate neutrality by 2050: their research is practice and challenged-based and institutions like AUAS have a strong role in the regional ecosystems through citizen engagement and close ties to decision makers and industry.

Various AUAS examples were showcased during the conference. Our collaboration with U!REKA (Urban Research and Education Knowledge Alliance) and European urban sustainability projects CrAFt and the New European Bauhaus Stewardship Lab were highlighted during a poster presentation, showing how AUAS and peers are contributing to the EU Climate Mission through impact driven research and education programmes for climate proof and digital savvy professionals of the future.

‘At AUAS we are drivers of regional innovation, in the Amsterdam MRA, the Netherlands and even beyond borders in Europe. As the largest university of applied sciences in the Netherlands, AUAS has a wealth of expertise to share with its peers and higher education stakeholders and this is also becoming increasingly visible to research policy makers at the EU level,’ says AUAS’s EU Liaison Officer Maren Pannemann.

AUAS Rector Geleyn Meijer (left) during a panel discussion.

Helping SMEs innovate

Another way AUAS is raising its profile in European research circles is through UASNL, a collaboration of 18 Dutch Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS), who are working together to put applied research on the international map. Through its EU office in Brussels, UASNL contributes to policy developments, builds European partnerships, and shows the value of applied research in answering the challenges Europe faces.

During the week of the annual UAS4Europe networking event UASNL organised its own meeting, Partners for SMEs: Intermediaries in European Innovation Ecosystems. During this event, experts from UASNL met with public and private stakeholders to explore how to work together to effectively extend the EU’s support to SMEs. UAS have a role to play as intermediaries in helping local companies to remain competitive and innovative.

As one of the coordinators of the EU Digital Pact for Skills AUAS contributes to addressing the shortage of digital experts in companies of all sizes through matchmaking, upskilling and reskilling future digital professionals in the Make IT Work programme.

Clear added value

After the UAS4EUROPE conference, a delegation of UASNL board members, among which Geleyn Meijer, stayed in Brussels to visit several institutions and exchange ideas with EU policy makers including Thomas Wobben from the European Committee of the Regions and Twan van Erp from the European Commission cities mission.

During a high-level meeting with Signe Ratso, the European Commission's Deputy Director-General - Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (RTD), the delegation discussed how the impact of applied research can be given more recognition in European research programmes.

‘Despite this clear added value, UAS still face challenges in securing funding. Both fundamental research and applied research are necessary to tackle the challenges Europe is facing. This is one of the reasons we are working hard to raise the profile of UAS in Europe. By drawing more attention to the impactful research at AUAS and our successful international projects across Europe, we hope to change the perception and ultimately bring in more international cooperation opportunities for our researchers,’ says Pannemann.