Organisation - January 16, 2014

Imares suddenly in the red

Albert Sikkema

Imares, Wageningen UR’s marine research institute, made a loss last year. ‘We’re no longer on cloud nine,’ says Imares director Tammo Bult.

Photo: Imares in IJmuiden

For years, business was booming for Imares. Wageningen UR’s marine research institute acquired many new contracts after its establishment in 2006. As a result, the number of employees soon doubled, from 120 to 240. But then all of a sudden, the institute made a loss last year. ‘We’re no longer on cloud nine,’ says Imares director Tammo Bult. Imares is ‘pausing for reflection’ and ‘realigning to make it fit for the future’, says Bult. Some staff on temporary contracts have not had their contracts renewed and the institute is looking more closely at employees’ available project hours.

Last year, the marine institute suffered several setbacks. A number of large projects for the national government and the European Union finished, but no sizeable follow-up projects came in their place. This was partly because Imares failed to acquire enough projects in the top sectors. All in all, this led to a sudden reduction in public sector funding. The effect of the setbacks became clear in the course of 2013. The directors took immediate measures to stem the tide, says Bult.

The institute has now designated new research fields that should allow it to grow again. Examples are maritime oil and gas drilling, wind energy at sea, building with nature (coastal protection) and ecological research in the polar regions. ‘The world is changing, new research topics are emerging and research is being funded differently,’ says Bult. ‘We need to respond to this.’