The University of Twente and Saxion are to work together more closely on microtechnology and nanotechnology. By joining forces, the two knowledge institutions hope to accelerate innovation, increase students’ transfer and progression opportunities, utilise the available facilities more efficiently and provide extra stimulus for entrepreneurship, among other things. All these efforts should result in a growing sector of microtechnology and nanotechnology-based products and services ‘made in Twente’. On 9 November, members of the Executive Boards of both knowledge institutions will sign a partnership agreement as the basis for collaboration in the areas of education, research, infrastructure and valorisation activities.
The region of Twente is leading the way in the Netherlands in the field of microtechnology and nanotechnology, and the University of Twente (UT) and Saxion are the driving forces behind that position. With the signing of the partnership agreement on Monday, the two knowledge institutions will reinforce the ties between them and intensify their collaboration. This will enable the region of Twente to further extend its technological lead, both nationally and internationally.
Education and research
In terms of education, the two institutions will closely align their degree programmes and courses to improve the opportunities for students to transfer and progress, and they will also exchange lecturers and employees.
The UT offers academic programmes, connected to the scientific research of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, whereas the Saxion University of Applied Sciences has more applied, design-focused programmes, of which manufacturing techniques are a part. Saxion's new programme, Applied Nanotechnology, is a perfect example of this. Alumni of both the UT and Saxion achieve (high-quality) positions in the high tech industry. They optimally provide society with quality personnel with technical training: UT alumni with their academic skills in the field of research, design and entrepreneurship, combined with design-focused graduates of the University of Applied Sciences. More mutual consultation creates a synergy in the transfer opportunities of students, as well as increase the possibilities for exchanging teachers and staff.
A handful of scientists from the UT have already accepted roles as professors and researchers at Saxion in combination with their employment at the UT.
Furthermore, the partnership agreement is intended to result in joint educational projects. Through closer collaboration, Saxion and the University of Twente are creating a complementary educational offering. This will enable students to get the maximum out of their studies while also providing society with an optimal supply of highly qualified technical professionals. The knowledge institutions are also exploring the opportunities to market their bachelor and master degree programmes jointly, both nationally and internationally.
Through their research, both institutions are striving to accelerate the pace of innovation so that the benefits from microtechnology and nanotechnology innovations can be leveraged faster, including by the private sector.
Infrastructure and valorization
Advanced and specialised research facilities are located in the Twente region. The University of Twente and Saxion plan to share those facilities, such as the cleanroom at the MESA+ NanoLab and the High Tech Factory, with each other more intensively. Allowing researchers from the two educational institutions to utilise one another’s facilities will further boost the research ambitions. Additionally, Saxion and the University of Twente intend to work in close consultation to align future investments in large-scale infrastructure, and this may lead to joint investment projects in the longer term.
By sharing knowledge and facilities relating to valorisation, both knowledge institutions want to ensure that all scientific knowledge gained is made available to society as a whole efficiently, such as by supporting start-ups or by transferring knowledge to existing companies. In terms of such value-adding activities, Kennispark Twente plays a significant role for both institutions.
University of Twente
At the University of Twente, research, education and infrastructure go hand in hand in the field of microtechnology and nanotechnology. The UT’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology has an outstanding international reputation for research, and it has over 500 researchers working on ‘enabling technologies’ such as nanotechnology, new materials, photonics, microfluidics, microelectronics & nanoelectronics and healthcare applications. Research conducted within MESA+ has already produced more than 50 spin-off companies, and the institute works in close collaboration with the private sector.
Several of the UT’s technical bachelor and master degree programmes contribute to nurturing talent and developing skills in microtechnology and nanotechnology. Moreover, the UT runs a unique master programme in nanotechnology, and for doctoral students in this field there is the MESA+ School for Nanotechnology.
The NanoLab – the Netherlands’ largest nanotechnology research facility – is an open-access facility which makes state-of-the-art equipment available to researchers and companies at an affordable price. The High Tech Factory offers young microtechnology and nanotechnology companies access to production facilities.
Saxion University of Applied Sciences strongly emphasises its strengths in science and technology under the umbrella concept of ‘Living Technology’. The knowledge institution is particularly focused on high tech systems and materials, including nanotechnology-physics, nanotechnology-bio, mechatronics, lightweight construction, smart materials, industrial design and ambient intelligence. Saxion works in close collaboration with local companies and with the TechForFuture centre of expertise, which is a joint initiative of Saxion, Windesheim and the province of Overijssel.
The relevant bachelor-level degree programmes, which are vocationally oriented, are mechanical engineering, electrical & electronic engineering, engineering physics, industrial design, mechatronics, chemistry, chemical technology, biology and medical laboratory research and forensic research. Furthermore, in September 2016 (subject to NVAO approval), Saxion will be launching a new master of engineering in applied nanotechnology which will be focused predominantly on applications. This demonstrates that Saxion is developing an educational offering that complements the UT’s science-based master programmes (MSc).