It is still unclear what the future holds for the accommodation of the Lelystad animal scientists. Will new accommodation be built for Livestock Research on the Houtribweg road, where the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI) already has its offices, or will they stay at the Edelhertweg site?
Some in Livestock Research would like to increase collaboration with animal scientists in Wageningen and would be happy to relocate to Gelderland. 'I don't see any particular benefits any more to concentration in Lelystad', says one researcher.
The researchers at ASG's other institute, the CVI vets, would like to join up with Livestock Research in order to keep enough research capacity in Lelystad and to encourage more collaboration. These scientists wonder whether the Executive Board is giving the issue of animal health enough priority. 'We have more links with Utrecht than Wageningen', says one CVI member of staff.
Rector magnificus Martin Kropff tries to put their minds at rest. 'The Ministry of Agriculture is continuing to invest a lot of money in animal health; that will remain a key topic in the KB research (Knowledge Basis, ed.). It is also one of the priorities of the WIAS Graduate School. We want to strengthen collaboration between Wageningen University and the CVI, but there's nothing wrong with collaborating with Utrecht.' So all options are still open here too.
There are intrinsic reasons for preferring concentration in Lelystad, said Martin Scholten, ASG's managing director. The option of relocating all of Livestock Research to Wageningen was being considered last year but has since been rejected. However, it could be that some staff will move to Wageningen after all.
Accommodation expenses also play a role here. The new building for the university animal scientists at the Wageningen campus is ready on paper. Now Breukink is looking to see whether it is possible to make better utilization of this building through the use of flexible workstations. In this way, moving staff to Wageningen could save on costs for new buildings in Lelystad.
But ASG will also be saving on accommodation costs in the coming years. The Waiboerhoeve and Spelderholt experimental farms will be sold off, and the offices and labs on the Edelhertweg road may be sold too. One of the people present asked whether ASG would be allowed to reinvest that money, or would it go to the Executive Board. No, that money will go to DLO as a whole, replied Breukink. And he went on to play down the anticipated profits from the sale. 'We are having to write down a lot of the buildings. These buildings have been recorded in our accounts for a certain amount, but we will have to repay part of the value of the experimental farms to the agricultural organizations that made those buildings available. That means an accounting loss.'
'You will have to be careful how you communicate that to the outside world', is the reaction of one member of the audience. 'Our customers are saying that getting rid of the experimental farms is just destruction of capital, no wonder you lot are so expensive.'
The Executive Board is touring the organization this week and next week to present its strategic plan for 2011-2014. Resource is reporting on all the meetings.