Can you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Loes Rutten. I recently left the Netherlands behind to move to Brussels, where I will represent 17 Dutch Universities of Applied Sciences to increase the visibility of their practice-based research. The position brings together multiple things that excite me: I have a background in research myself, and I am a big fan of European cooperation. I studied physics and earth sciences. Before joining UASNL, I did research on the energy transition and worked on sensors on microchips at the Dutch research institute TNO. But on the side of this career path, I have always been active in European networks. In 2017, I was the president of the international board of AEGEE-Europe, an organisation connecting local groups of students all over Europe. I was also a board member of the European Youth Forum, the platform that represents the collective voice of young people in Europe. Although the content of my work is different now, I already notice that my previous experience in European networks helps me to find my way through the jungle of stakeholders in the European research and innovation sector.
How are your first weeks so far?
Exciting! I have been warmly welcomed by my UASNL colleagues and the partners that I met so far. For now, my priority is to get to know the internal and external network of UASNL. In the upcoming weeks, I will visit all the Universities of Applied Sciences that are part of the network to get to know all the flavours of practice-based research and become familiar with the thematics that each member is working on. Meanwhile, there are several European networks that UASNL is a part of in Brussels. Although these structures can seem a bit overwhelming at first, they are very useful to exchange information on policy developments and develop common positions in response to those developments.
What has been most surprising to you?
Before starting at UASNL, I was not entirely aware of the research that takes place at Universities of Applied Sciences. But this field is developing rapidly! There are over 50 Centres of Expertise in the Netherlands where Universities of Applied Science work closely with public and private stakeholders to accelerate innovation. Universities of Applied Sciences are also developing a Professional Doctorate programmes that students will be able to pursue after finishing their master degree. The joint ambitions of Dutch Universities of Applied Sciences have recently been consolidated in the Strategic Research Agenda 2022-2025 through 4 ambitions and 12 themes. There are wonderful examples of regional innovation that I will facilitate to find a stage on the European level.
What is on the agenda for UASNL in 2022?
Broadly speaking, we will continue to provide input for the development of the European Innovation Area en European Innovation Council from the perspective of the UAS sector. One of the highlights will be the visit of the UASNL board to Brussels in June, which will take place most likely during the Research and Innovation days. In the second half of 2022, the Netherlands will take over the chairmanship of UAS4Europe, the umbrella organisation representing the Universities of Applied Sciences sector in Europe. We will also present our work to fellow research administrators at the EARMA conference in May. Our highlight in the fall is the European Week of Regions and Cities in October. Universities of Applied Sciences play in important role to connect regional innovation and the European agenda. The EWRC will be a great platform to showcase examples from within the UASNL network. Moreover, we will organise several thematic lunch events from UASNL’s side, as well as co-organise events with the European institutions and platforms that we are part of, like UAS4Europe, Neth-ER, House of the Dutch Provinces, ERRIN and UnILiON. In short: a lot of work to do!