The creation of the campus is entering a new phase. In the wake of the concentration on the Born site comes the completion phase of the campus as a working and residential community. And there is a plan for that: Strategy Wageningen Campus, gateway to smart food in a green world. Or: how do we keep our place at the top internationally? Tijs Breukink (executive board) illuminates the plan.
The mission statement ‘Gateway to smart food in a green world’ lays the emphasis on food. Is food in first place from now on?
‘No, that is not the case. We wanted to express the fact that we are about healthy food in a green world. By that green world we mean the various facets of the natural environment and the biobased economy. Our domain is and will remain healthy food and the environment. Food is mentioned first, but that is not a matter of ranking.’
The plan describes the completion of the campus, in particular the plans for the southern construction site, our own Southern Axis. What buildings are going to be added?
‘Next to Friesland Campina there is room for the research departments of large, mainly international companies. There is also going to be a flexible techno-hall with testing facilities and apparatus for our own use and that of others. It will be based on the principle of joint use. That is a key point in the continued development of the campus. Then there will also be an Incubator, a building for small start-up companies with lab facilities and all kinds of support services that they can make use of. And there will be a building for companies that are starting afresh and those looking for a temporary base before finding a permanent home. These will mainly be foreign companies. And lastly, there will be the Campus Plaza.’
Impulse Area, the central area with the Forum, Orion, Capus Plaza and Impulse, is intended to form the heart of the campus. What can we expect?
‘You need the bricks and mortar of course, but social cohesion is incredibly important in the living and working community that we want to be. But that doesn’t just happen by itself. We’ll have to make it happen: drawing in students, researchers and companies. The liveliness will be concentrated in the Impulse area. There is quite a bit going on already. For the time being the extension of that will consist of the Campus Plaza where – depending on the developer – there will be small shops, catering outlets and childcare provision. We also want a reception centre at the bus stop where people can be helped to find their way around the campus, and there will be a helpdesk for companies. We have just appointed a campus manager: Petra Caessens. Together with Oost NV and the Foreign Investment Agency at Economic Affairs, she is going to focus on the acquisition of companies and livening up the campus. Beyond that there is no big organization behind the plans: we are taking the lean and mean approach. There are already several work groups working on the setup of the campus.
Helix is on its way; the strategic plan involved a thousand fte in jobs on the southern axis of the campus. And it is already so busy. How are we going to cope with the traffic?
‘The exit is a bottleneck, a serious problem and the previously announced second exit isn’t going to happen for the time being. The province concluded that creating two roundabouts so close together is not the right solution to the problem. The fast bus lane will come but there will not be an exit for cars. The existing roundabout will be redesigned, there will be traffic lights and the exit will be improved so that more cars can go in and out. There will also be more lanes on the part of the road where it narrows at the moment. That is the short-term solution.’
And for the long term?
‘I argue that it should go further than that. In my view it is as clear as day that a second exit from the campus will have to come eventually. There are three options: to the north via the Binnenveld to the Mansholtlaan, to the west via the Mondriaanlaan to the Nijenoordallee, or here at Friesland Campina. The northern option branches off from the Mansholtlaan too, but further away. You could catch the traffic from the motorway with it and avoid the pressure on this area here.’
Your appointment has just been extended by four years. How many of these plans can be realized in four years?
‘Campus Plaza will be realized by then. Helix will be built, the fast bus will be operating and the exit will be improved. I hope the Incubator will be a reality and that we will have signed a contract with a big company that will move in here. But I also hope we shall all be able to say: this campus is a great place to be. It’s dynamic. Yes, it really has become a lively community.’