News - September 26, 2013

‘A springboard for Wageningen’

Rob Goossens

Wageningen, Delft and MIT win the competition for scientific institute in Amsterdam
Goal: research and education around metropolitan themes

Wageningen will be joining forces with Delft University of Technology and MIT in Boston to set up a new scientific institute working on solutions for cities. The three were the convincing winners in a competition set up by the municipality of Amsterdam, which has earmarked 50 million euros for the new institute. The Wageningen project coordinator, Chris Karman, explains what this means for Wageningen.

Could you summarize the new institute’s aims in a couple of sentences?

‘All over the world, urbanization is increasing fast. This is presenting us with a variety of new challenges. The new institute will work on finding solutions for these problems. It will do this partly by carrying out applied research and partly by training talented young people in this area - in other words, education. The institute will be a platform, a network organization involving a lot of companies and other organizations.’

It’s an unusual combination: Wageningen, Delft and MIT, the most important technological institute in the world.

‘That’s right, but we complement each other really well. Delft excels in what we call the city’s ‘tissue’: the buildings, streets, infrastructure. Wageningen knows a lot about the ‘flows’ of energy, food and the social structure. And MIT’s SENSEable City Lab specializes in measuring all of this. Their strength is “sensing the city”, which lets you map the physical features of a metropolis.’

Is there a need for this kind of research?

‘Definitely. Major companies such as Shell and KPN have already said they will be joining in. Getting information about how a modern city develops and functions is interesting for them too. Both of these companies are directly involved as well as key players in the urban infrastructure. This offers really interesting research opportunities.’

How important is this project for Wageningen?

‘It’s important. As the world becomes more and more urban, you see Wageningen’s research domains shifting as a result. There is an increasing emphasis on topics such as the provision of food and energy in a metropolitan context. This institute can serve as a springboard for Wageningen to enable it to make real progress in this area.’