The University of Groningen/Campus Fryslân has made a solid and consistent contribution to both the strategic goals and the regional knowledge infrastructure in Fryslân. This is the conclusion of a study on the regional impact of Campus Fryslân, conducted by Bureau Beleidsonderzoek and commissioned by the Province of Fryslân and the Municipality of Leeuwarden.
In a relatively short space of time and with relatively a modest staffing level, a large number of collaborative projects have been established in both education and research. For projects that benefit the region, the various research domains have acquired external funding. In the period of the study conducted, around 60 research projects were carried out, and approximately 40 of these projects focus either on comparisons between regions and/or on topics that involve collaboration with a regional party. Almost 20 of the above-mentioned projects involve international cooperation with collaborative partners in other countries. In this way, some of the projects are clearly guaranteed to involve both regional and international links.
The Frisian Flagships of Campus Fryslân jointly encompass virtually all the themes referred to in the Fryslân Knowledge Agenda, and from the very start ‘global challenges’ ties in with the Frisian themes. This concerns interdisciplinary research in the field of sustainable economy, governance, food and health, and culture, language and technology with data science as the overarching theme. Next to this, practical assignments within the degree programmes are entirely in line with the aim of making Friesland a Living Lab region. Tying in with Frisian themes is considered important to supplement the knowledge of the long-term transition challenges and for contributing to the economic and societal developments in the region. An interdisciplinarity or cross-disciplinary approach is considered to be a key factor in this regard. Next to regional, there are national and international collaborations by which Campus Fryslân has built bridges to both international parties and knowledge.
There is a strong connection with regional partners. Regarding the knowledge infrastructure, the study shows that UG/Campus Fryslân has given it additional breadth and depth. On the one hand, by establishing new regional (knowledge) networks and, on the other hand, by active engagement with existing networks.
Since 2016 the development of Campus Fryslân started and in 2018 it officially opened as the 11th faculty of the University of Groningen. This is a relatively short period to say whether or not it has had a tangible impact on the regional economic structure. However, the study lists a number of aspects that, in theory, enhance the smooth running of the regional economy. These concern its focus on internationally oriented sectors, on entrepreneurship and on innovation. UG/Campus Fryslân is active in all three aspects. The arrival of Campus Fryslân has also given an impetus to the city centre.
Campus Fryslân has developed activities in all focal areas, thus helping to create an academic climate, as agreed upon in the collaboration agreements. The faculty engages in knowledge diffusion through both formal (scientific publications) and informal channels (such as public events). UG/Campus Fryslân stages and takes part in a wide range of public events aimed at a range of target groups. In particular, the uncomplicated character of these public events and the varied nature of their target groups means that they are reaching a general audience.
To gain the maximum benefit from the impact of Campus Fryslân it is to be advised to adhere to the long-term strategic goals. The commitment shown by all involved parties needs to be continued for a longer period of time. Further to that, the study calls upon the importance of embracing the region in teaching and research, and in strengthening the connection between pure and applied levels. Next to developing education and conducting research, Campus Fryslân has an important role to play as a networker, a go-between and a regional liaison for knowledge institutions outside the region, to truly embody the concept of the University of the North.
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