Organisation - May 18, 2015

Executive Board wants more cooperation between knowledge units

Albert Sikkema

The Executive Board wants annually 5 percent more projects in which several knowledge units are involved. Moreover, Wageningen UR invests in five research themes that are present at the interface of the knowledge units. The name DLO is passé. This much is evident from the Strategic Plan 2015-2018 that is adopted this week.

Secretary  of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp, has approved the strategic plan on 12 May, after previously the Supervisory Board gave its approval to the plan of the Executive Board. On 3 June the Executive Board presents the plan to employees.

The Executive Board strives for an increase in projects whereby not only more knowledge units are involved, but also employees of both the university and the research institutes. The board invests in investment themes that connect several science groups. The theme One Health links the human and veterinary health and the theme Resource Efficiency researches new combinations of different sectors and commodities to make food production more efficient. By combining different scientific disciplines new insights arise allowing us to make leaps forward, expects the Executive Board.

Furthermore, in the next four years the Executive Board wants to introduce a new educational approach to continue to provide qualitative education for the growing student population. In addition, she wants to offer more digital education for various target groups, also abroad. There will be a new educational concept, flipped learning, whereby the university provides more often online lectures and the students especially go to campus to speak to their teachers and do homework and projects. With this didactic concept the board wants to retain the strength of the Wageningen education - small and flexible - for larger numbers of students.

Compared to the previous strategic plan, the board puts more emphasis on the biobased economy and natural resources. This is for instance reflected in the new investment theme Resilience, in which a multidisciplinary group of researchers will investigate the resilience of biological systems. And in the theme Metropolitan Solutions, in which themes such as food supply, logistics, waste management, health and quality of life come together in a spatial design. A vulnerable point is still who will pay these research topics. The board wants to attract external funding for the investment themes, but also notes that the government is constantly cutting back on higher education. Market teams of people from several knowledge units need to tap into new markets.

The Executive Board invariably talks in the strategic plan about university and research institutes - the name DLO is passé. In the new brand strategy the board is going to discuss with the co-participation council, Wageningen UR will get a more important position. But it has also to do with the national development to bring the institutes for applied research – the so-called TO2 institutes - under one administrative umbrella. The recent co-participation between DLO and TNO in the area of biobased and nutrition is one example. There will also be collaboration between Wageningen UR and the Delft institute Deltares. Which brand names will emerge, is still unclear.