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Universities and Province of Noord-Brabant to deploy knowledge to address Brabant issues

Published: 02nd September 2022 Last updated: 02nd September 2022

The Dutch job market is facing an unprecedented labor shortage. At the same time, changes like robotization and digitization as well as the energy transitions call for skills that differ from the traditional ones. The Province of Noord-Brabant and the Brabant research universities and universities of applied sciences have joined forces to reinforce the future economic growth in Brabant and make sure that sufficient and appropriately qualified staff is available to facilitate this growth. Today they have signed a Knowledge Pact for Higher Education in Brabant (Kennispact HO Brabant) to boost entrepreneurship, lifelong learning, and knowledge development.

The Knowledge Pact strengthens the collaboration between universities, universities of applied sciences and the Province around the social issues faced by Brabant: matters like the energy transition, healthy aging, or developing more sustainable food chains. A great deal of research on these subjects is being conducted at institutions of higher education in Brabant. However, it is important that this knowledge becomes more accessible to, for instance, innovative small and medium-sized enterprises.

Kennispact HO Brabant - Fotograaf Eddie Mol

The objective is to make this knowledge work to benefit Brabant even better than before. For instance, the research universities and universities of applied sciences would welcome closer partnerships with institutions and businesses, to ensure that programs and further training are more closely aligned with present-day innovations and continue to cater to employers' needs. As a result, talented people will be better employed in proposing solutions to social issues and they can continue to do so in Brabant.

Lifelong development

The institutions of higher education will offer learning modules so people can engage in lifelong learning. Changes require new skills so workers need to continue to develop their knowledge and skills. The institutions offering the modules include the institutions of higher education themselves as well as Brabant Leert, the province-wide platform set up during the Covid pandemic to facilitate retraining and further training. A similar agreement was made earlier with Brabant institutions of senior secondary vocational education (MBO).

Member of the Provincial Executive Martijn van Gruijthuijsen: “Learning does not stop when you receive your diploma. Whether you are an employee or own a small or medium-sized enterprise or startup: everyone profits from the latest knowledge. With this Knowledge Pact, the business sector in Brabant should be better able to tap into the knowledge available at our research universities and universities of applied sciences. We do so by better retraining and further training, more intensive collaboration, and by promoting more impactful entrepreneurship. By combining working, learning, and innovating, we make Brabant the most innovative region in Europe.”

Entrepreneurship and startups

In addition, the research universities and universities of applied sciences will work on strengthening entrepreneurship and the startup climate. Startups frequently emerge from innovative problem-solving ideas. 65% of the startups in Brabant therefore set up shop in the vicinity of higher education institutions. To improve the success rate of these startups, the Province and knowledge institutions will undertake to further promote entrepreneurship and to explore how startups and entrepreneurs can become more successful. This initiative should then be implemented in practice, to ultimately result in a joint entrepreneurship knowledge center.

The universities of applied sciences and research universities are looking forward to this more close collaboration. Jorrit Snijder, President of the Breda University of Applied Sciences Executive Board: “We are thrilled that the Province is prepared to boost the further collaboration among the knowledge institutions in Brabant in this way. Stimulating learning communities in particular, like the Breda GameHub, is a good example of how the impact of knowledge institutions can be strengthened.”

Wim van de Donk, Rector Magnificus and President of the Tilburg University Executive Board: "This Knowledge Pact offers extra opportunities for our strategic objective to collaborate with other parties to address the great social issues of the region in the coming years. Digitization plays an important role here, JADS in 's-Hertogenbosch being a case in point. There is also a great urgency to reinforce the broad prosperity in the region. For instance, we already have university-wide academic collaborative centers for the interdisciplinary research themes of Broad Prosperity in the Region, Inclusive labor market, Smart & social energy transition, and Digital mental health innovation."

Kennispact HO Brabant - ondertekening Wim van de Donk

We will join our fellow knowledge institutions in creating even more impact by strengthening entrepreneurship, lifelong development, and knowledge development in Brabant.  

The Knowledge Pact was signed by Avans University of Applied Sciences, HAS University of Applied Sciences, Fontys Universities of Applied Sciences, Breda University of Applied Sciences, the Design Academy Eindhoven, Tilburg University, Eindhoven University of Technology, and the Province of Noord-Brabant. The Province has made € 8 million available to support the Knowledge Pact.

Photographer: Eddie Mol.