Eindhoven University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research, Utrecht University, and University Medical Centre Utrecht started a strategic alliance, which was officially launched in December 2020 at the height of the pandemic. On April 19th, the Alliance partners come together for the first large-scale in-person meeting to showcase the projects and initiatives within the alliance as part of the ‘Building the Future Together’ conference in Eindhoven.
“The motto of our alliance is ‘challenging future generations’,” notes Robert-Jan Smits, chair of the Executive Board of TU/e who will formally open the Alliance conference. “There are many challenges in society, and we contend that the best way to solve these challenges is together, whether it is healthcare, food production, or climate change. As President of TU/e, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome our project partners to our campus for what will no doubt be a very productive and stimulating day of discussion and future planning.”
‘Building the Future Together’ will be a conference with a difference. Besides presentations, interviews, and panel discussions, there will be a project market where researchers alliance projects can showcase their developments, a ‘Mystery Match’ approach where attendees are matched with others to instigate interdisciplinary connections, and a series of break-out sessions from all seven alliance initiatives .
The programme kicks off with a plenary session hosted by Barry Fitzgerald (Science Information Officer, TU/e), and will feature researchers and board members from all partner institutes. To start, researchers from the Alliance’s Centre for Unusual Collaborations will discuss their interdisciplinary collaboration projects. For example, Sylvia Brugman (WUR) and Yoeri van de Burgt (TU/e) will discuss their interdisciplinary project on chronic pain, which is a condition that affects about 3 million adults in the Netherlands alone.
Future researchers and future education
Besides interdisciplinary research, the alliance is also focused on student development and education. PhD researcher Charisma Hehakaya (UMC Utrecht) will reflect on how the alliance can help the next generation of researchers and academics. She’ll share her story on the challenges experienced by first generation students (students whose parents were not in a position to attend university) and how she started a fund for first-generation students.
In the field of education, the alliance universities are the first to offer a digital platform EduXchange to support students taking courses at partner universities. Arnold Bregt (Dean of Education at WUR), along with two students from TU/e and UMC Utrecht, will talk about how the alliance partners are working together to facilitate new and innovative approaches in education.
Marcel Bogers (Professor of Open & Collaborative Innovation, TU/e) will then provide examples of the open and collaborative forms of innovation that we should use to best meet the challenges of modern society, and how the alliance can facilitate this. And the plenary session will conclude with an interview involving members of the board of the Alliance – Frank Baaijens (Rector Magnificus TU/e), Arthur Mol (Rector Magnificus WUR), Henk Kummeling (Rector Magnificus UU), and Arno Hoes (Dean and vice-president UMC Utrecht).
After the plenary session, attendees will be given the opportunity to connect with their colleagues from other partners via the ‘Mystery Match’ approach and a dedicated series of break-out sessions. The themes of the break-out sessions are preventive health and circular society (which are the priority areas for the alliance), as well as education, unusual collaborations, artificial intelligence for health, living technologies, and impact of the alliance.
And register to attend the conference here.
About the alliance
The alliance of TU/e, WUR, UU and UMC Utrecht challenges new generations of researchers and students to cooperate right across disciplines without setting prior limitations. Research is focused on five major themes, with Circular Society and Preventive Health being the priority themes. The institutions also challenge themselves by allowing researchers to take unconventional approaches towards research. The ambition is considerable: to solve that which appears to have no solution. The four institutions cooperate in a cross-disciplinary way in those fields in which they complement each other. This strengthens each of the individual institutions as well as the partnership itself.