1 year ago

Kennispark Twente as Global Science Scape



KENNISPARK TWENTE AS A GLOBAL SCIENCE SCAPE of rising structural unemployment. This led to the Action Plan, which specified 43 concrete actions, one being to open up the Netherlands to foreign entrepreneurs, both in terms of introducing a special visa regime for entrepreneurs but also to provide more information for foreign entrepreneurs. It is this that led to the idea of Startup Delta, and Kennispark is part of the efforts to create information about the Netherlands; it is in this capacity that for EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes has been working as the Startup Delta Special Envoy. On occasion Kennispark has featured as part of the narrative she was trying to mobilise regarding the fertility and munificence of the entrepreneurial environment of the Netherlands as a whole. Part of this was related to her delivery of the Annual Innovation Speech at the University of Twente, and she used the occasion to also engage with the Kennispark activities, including participating in the launch of a student investment fund and holding a round table with a number of the key actors in the Kennispark ‘ecosystem’. point of completely dominating the fourth spatial plan by the 1990s. This made it extremely difficult for the peripheral regions to define their own strengths, and as the liberal government shifted towards a more supply-side economic policy, peripheral regions faced a threat of being defined as costs for the Netherlands in contrast to the benefits brought by Amsterdam and Rotterdam. One region was able to successfully challenge this positioning, and this was Brabant, in particular around the site of the Philips factory in Eindhoven. The province of Brabant had created a regional development agency in the 1970s in response to deindustrialisation and rapidly rising unemployment, and even by the Fourth National Spatial plan was seen as being a site of ‘national’ importance, less important than Enschede or Maastricht which were ‘Euregional’ (Enschede being the site of the first “Euregio” organisation in 1958). FIGURE 8: Building profile in the EU The main role for Kennispark as an explicit political project, however, has been within the Netherlands rather than globally, and in particular as a means of contradicting a national economic development narrative which sees the east of the Netherlands as being a ‘backward place’. The internal politics of economic development in the Netherlands saw particularly adverse consequences of deindustrialisation for a number of outlying regions distant from the Randstad in the 1990s. Each of these regions acquired its own regional development agency (at the level of the province, or in the case of the northern regions, between the three provinces of Friesland, Drenthe and Groningen. At the same time, a national spatial planning imaginary emerged claiming that the success of Netherlands as an internationally competitive trading partner was built on two pillars, the North and the South wings of the Randstad, corresponding to the two Mainports (sic) of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and the Rotterdam Shipping Harbour (Van Duinen, 2004). The Mainports concept embodied a range of ideas, and captured the planning imaginary to the FIGURE 9: The key connections and growth centres in the Netherlands in the Fourth National Spatial Plan Source: Gecomprimeerd_Vierde-Nota-RO-Extra-deel-3-kabinetsstandpunt.pdf But by the time of the national spatial economic development plan “Peaks in the Delta” (2004) the Eindhoven region had managed to reinvent itself as a ‘brainport’ (arguably as the ‘brainport’), corresponding to a single gateway point for competitive knowledge in the Netherlands. This label brought with it the recognition of Brainport as an infrastructure of strategic national importance and deserving of additional national investment, something acknowledged in the Netherlands’ latest strategic infrastructure investment plan (the SVIR, 2011). The basis for the Brainport emergence as a strategic science site related to changes within the Philips electronics business. PAGE 14

KENNISPARK: IDENTITY AND IMAGE Part of this was that Philips created a number of highly successful new business areas which spun-out to create large high-technology businesses which themselves became worldleading players in their field, including semi-conductors (NXP) and semiconductor fabrication machinery (ASML). Another element came with Philips’ decision to move out of half of its flagship R&D site (‘Natlab) and at the same time to vocally embrace open innovation concepts, inviting other businesses and research activities to co-locate on its site, the ‘High-Tech Campus’ (confusingly, the Brainport campus is a separate development from the High-Tech Campus). A third element was the mobilisation of the vision of a dynamic cross-border ‘innovation triangle, an imaginary space between the three high-technology centres (each with technical universities) of Eindhoven, Leuven, and Aachen, and tying this to a growing policy interest in cross-border knowledge spaces such as Öresund. Against this background a key element of the Kennispark project has been an attempt to position the Twente region and the Enschede functional region (a conurbation which in practice extends far beyond the municipality boundaries) as a strategic national intellectual infrastructure, similar to Brainport and therefore suitable for strategic infrastructure investment. The various elements that contributed to the Brainport narrative are also present in different ways in the Kennispark narrative: Firstly, the university has a long track record (over thirty years) in creating large numbers of spin-off companies in emerging high-technology fields, particularly ICT and materials science; sSecondly, it is a physical location where business and research comes together to interact and grow, with a clear narrative as an entrepreneurial ecosystem; thirdly, there is an explicit flow dimension - it is a place where people come to exploit their knowledge, with companies from outside the region and the Netherlands active in contributing to growth and development. FIGURE 10: The Dutch vision for connected, balanced, competitive growth in 2040 Source: summary-national-policy-strategy-for-infrastructure-and-spatial-planning/ summary-national-policy-strategy-for-infrastructure-and-spatial-planning.pdf To some extent Kennispark has been successful in positioning itself within the national policy discourse as part of the Dutch national knowledge infrastructure, although this has remained at the level of particular investments (such as from the Nanonext research investment fund). In that sense it differs from Brainport in not having a structural advantage expressed through the SIVR which allocates central government infrastructure funding, leaving investments in Kennispark primarily the concern of the province and local municipalities. Part of this improved position comes from central government recognition of the value of these activities, and in 2013 and 2014, the Ministry of Economic Affairs commissioned consultants to produce a map of the Dutch knowledge infrastructure landscape. As part of this, Buck Consulting produced a four-way classification of science campus developments in the Netherlands (associated with either higher education or business research activities). Of the 33 campuses, 6 were designated as Mature (including Kennispark, Brainport, but also Wageningen UR, Amsterdam, Delft and the Chemelot campus). Possibly interesting here is that Wageningen is closely associated with the ‘Greenport’ concept 5 , and Chemelot was formed at the site of the DSM chemicals plant, formerly the national mining company and later life sciences business. Of these 6 mature campuses, Kennispark is the only one that does not have an immediate obvious claim to be part of a bigger national infrastructure (Mainport – Delft/ Amsterdam, Brainport – Eindhoven, Greenport-Wageningen and DSM – Chemelot) and yet has managed to position itself as a Mature campus. 5 The greenport concept emerged as an expression of the world leading position of the Netherlands in horticulture and agriculture, and argues that this worldleading strength is based around 6 local clusters: Westland-Oostland (greenhouses), Venlo (flowers, food & logistics), Alsmeer (cut flowers), Duin- en Bollenstreek (bulbs and flowers), Boskoop (trees and bushes), and Enkhuizen (seeds and breeding). PAGE 15

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