News - May 29, 2010

Imares feels blue over so much green

The image that Wageningen UR represents green and not blue needs changing, says Imares. And the way to do so is to have an Ocean Sciences Group.

Wageningen UR is still associated with agriculture, although much more has come under its banner ever since those days. 'Our roots are in agro', is how executive board chairman Aalt Dijkhuizen sums up that image. Whether you like it or not, that's the way it is. That's what the public think of when 'Wageningen' is mentioned. Imares, in any case, is not pleased with this. It wants to have a more prominent position in the spectrum of Wageningen UR. This was evident when the Strategic Plan was presented to Imares employees in IJmuiden.
'The outside world does not associate Wageningen UR with the sea. This has to change', declared one of the propositions leading up to the discussion. Some Imares researchers suggested that a new sciences group would be a good way to bring the blue side of Wageningen UR more into the limelight. In such a group, research into sea, coast and delta can be brought together. Besides ESG (environment), AFSG (nutrition), SSG (society), PSG (plant), ASG (animal), there ought also to be an OSG (sea). Dijkhuizen found it 'interesting' to consider featuring sea research more prominently. He called Imares 'a pearl of the WUR'. However, he did not comment on having a new sciences group.
Although Imares is doing well financially, there is still concern for the future. Some researchers think that Imares is too expensive. Its tariffs are too high. It therefore has difficulty competing, especially in the international market (e.g. FAO assignments). Tijs Breukink (Executive Board) does not think that a ready-made solution exists for this problem. 'But the question is whether we should service such customers.' Breukink thinks that there is a need to look for customers who want more than 'an invoice by the hour' and who are willing to pay for knowledge development. In addition, he stresses that available knowledge has to be marketed in more creative ways. Such as taking part more frequently in projects where such knowledge is applied, known as entrepreneurial research in management jargon.