Science - June 21, 2012

Environment hall to be turned into water application centre

The environment hall at VHL in Leeuwarden will be thoroughly renovated. It will house a water application centre for water companies and water teaching programmes to carry out applied water research jointly. Its participants signed an agreement today.

The environmental hall before the renovations
The water application centre is jointly set up by VHL, WELL Federation and Water Alliance. The federation leases research space from VHL and sublets this to companies and education institutions such as VHL. The WELL Federation will give support to small newly-formed water companies, while the Water Alliance has links with many water technology companies.
'VHL now offers students four education modules each year in the hall. As such, equipment is left unused in certain periods of the year,' says Bob van Bijnen. He is the facility manager of the water research centre Wetsus and executuve borad member of the application centre. 'The renovations and the investment in equipment will enable companies to design new products in the centre, and foster a close working relationship between the business and the education sectors. Students will learn how to apply technology in a real life setting.'
Leeuwarden pisitions itself as the water technology capital of The Netherlands and houses a cluster of knowledge centres, companies and government departments all of which want to work together in this area. What they lacked was a laboratory for applied research. 'Wetsus carries out academic research with companies and knowledge centres, but not applied product research,' says Van Bijnen. 'In the application centre, these companies can work on new technologies and tune in to the applied research of the applied sciences universities. By locating the business and the education sectors close to each another, the dividing line between them would be kept as thin as possible.'
The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture & Innovation, the Friesland Provincial Government and the Municipality of Leeuwarden will provide the 1.8 million euros needed for the renovation of the hall and equipment purchase. The participants signed the water application centre agreement at a reception today. 

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