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Societal impact

Current situation

As the University is intrinsically embedded in society as a whole, it cooperates with government, industry and society to share knowledge and generate new investment in research. This cooperation has a regional emphasis, as the University considers it very important to support and develop the area in which it has its roots. This cooperation takes shape as consultancy, public-private partnerships and a wide range of contracts and 9 activities that facilitate knowledge creation, the dissemination of results and societal impact (patenting and licensing). The University supports these activities with a knowledge and technology transfer infrastructure that operates at local, national and international levels.

As top research is increasingly applied to major questions in society, the University has formulated three research priorities that will help us make a significant contribution to these questions. They are: Energy, which means solving questions related to innovations in generation, distribution and use of energy; Healthy Ageing, which means focusing on innovation in prevention, care and treatment; and Sustainable Society, which means helping to create and sustain a balanced society.


Realizing societal impact is an essential responsibility of the University. We transfer advanced academic knowledge to society to help solve the issues it is facing, such as how to personalize patient treatment, how to realize smart, liveable cities, and how to create a circular economy. We do this either in response to specific questions or on our own initiative. Although this knowledge transfer or value creation process mainly comprises the dissemination of knowledge, it also comprises support in converting this knowledge into sustainable economic and societal products, processes, services and new business activities.

Research, teaching and societal impact processes are closely intertwined at the University in order to help us achieve our societal impact goals. We constantly monitor our research results for societal impact, and our research-driven education teaches students to solve today’s societal challenges. Furthermore, they actually work on questions from society, and we train them to be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. The University has contact and cooperates with the public sector and local, national and international industry at all levels and in all disciplines, and this is actively encouraged. Staff and students thus develop the entrepreneurial attitude necessary to address society’s needs.


Our aim is to make a significant and active contribution to solving societal issues, in particular those in the Northern Netherlands, by creating value from academic research and teaching. We create value via our graduates, as they bring knowledge and skills to the working world. We also create value through our collaboration and interaction with external partners at regional, national and international levels.

In order to achieve our aim we will:

  • increase the entrepreneurial and outreach attitude and skills of our students and staff
  • optimize the infrastructure for knowledge transfer and value creation
  • increase our contribution to society by strengthening the impact of our research priorities: energy, healthy ageing and sustainable society
  • increase our interaction and partnerships with industry, NGOs and local and national government


We will take a three-pronged approach to improving the outreach skills of our students. We will develop and implement entrepreneurial course units in our degree programmes, involve Master’s students in solving societal questions and stimulate entrepreneurial activities for and by students. We will encourage our staff to adopt a more entrepreneurial attitude by supporting and rewarding their entrepreneurial and outreach initiatives.

The current infrastructure for knowledge transfer and value creation will be further professionalized in order to provide proper support for our staff and students. The aim is to increase our societal impact, maximize our competitive research funding success and intensify the identification of and capitalization on intellectual property.

We will further define our research priorities, thus clarifying our specific research strengths in those areas and increasing our impact. At the same time, we will foster and extend our networks all over the world through novel platforms such as international branch campuses. This will enable us to bring together government, industry and other knowledge partners and establish new public-private partnerships that relate to our research strengths and priorities.

Last modified:03 September 2021 10.32 a.m.
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