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Facts & Figures Valorisation

 

Valorisation is a specific label given to a traditionally significant aspect of a university's activities. No university or faculty would ever have been founded without considering its usefulness to society. Universities have a major impact on society, and interest in the social value of education and research has grown over the past ten years. This fact is evinced by the introduction of the concept of valorisation, and the inclusion of valorisation in the law as one of universities' core tasks.


Universities valorise knowledge in all academic disciplines, including the humanities and social sciences, and each discipline maintains close ties with its own societal field. Valorisation has been growing steadily for years, and manifests itself in many ways.


Over the past few years, universities have made significant progress in the field of valorisation:

 

  • Student interest in entrepreneurship programmes has risen considerably (from 20 per cent in 2007 to 52 per cent in 2010);1
  • Professional Technology Transfer Offices and Centres of Entrepreneurship have been founded;
  • Many innovative companies have come out of universities, partly thanks to the creation of incubators;
  • Valorisation has become a fixed element of quality assurance in research (Evaluating Research in Context);2
  • Collaboration with the business community has intensified, partly due to the establishment of science parks;
  • Attention is devoted to valorisation in staffing policy. The position of knowledge valorisation officer has been added to the university job classification system, and the job descriptions of academic staff expressly include valorisation, so that explicit attention can be devoted to it during performance and evaluation interviews.


It is precisely because valorisation encompasses such a wide variety of activities that universities find it difficult to make the results of these activities properly visible and measurable. For the same reason, producing a quantitative representation of national developments is also problematic. The sector currently lacks a uniform set of indicators that can be used for reporting purposes. Such a set will be developed over the next few years under the General Agreement (Hoofdlijnenakkoord).

 

Incubators and innovation campuses

In recent years, the focus has shifted from the application of knowledge to the regional anchoring or ‘embedding’ of education and research. Incubators and innovation campuses act as catalysts for this type of regional collaboration. Incubators serve as training grounds for young entrepreneurs. Innovation campuses and science parks attract businesspeople who see the proximity to a university as a valuable draw card for their business operations, due to contacts with relevant researchers or the use of research facilities.3


In 2009, commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Buck Consultants International drew up a list of innovation campuses. The agency identified 55 initiatives, 24 of which qualified as ‘campus’ initiatives based on the involvement of a knowledge carrier and an organisation that promotes open innovation. Of these 24 campuses, six initiatives have been identified as campuses of national interest, because they have been classified by the Innovation Platform as key areas and/or mentioned in the Peaks in the Delta (Pieken in de Delta) programme and because they carry sufficient economic weight (in terms of knowledge workers and R&D activities), or they have sufficient potential to do so.

 


1 EIM, 2010
2 Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), ERiCplus, 2012
3 Buck Consultants International, 2009
4 This scheme ran for a four-year period and concluded in late 2011/early 2012. Universities intend to continue these activities independently.