Leadership and Governance at the University of Twente

University of Twente

University of Twente

Resource paper prepared by Ben Jongbloed (CHEPS, University of Twente)


The University of Twente (UT), based in the east of the Netherlands, was established in the year 1961. It is a medium-sized university with a strong engineering core, next to a social sciences base. The UT is very much known for its entrepreneurial character and a case study of the university was included by Burton Clark in his widely-cited book on entrepreneurial universities (Clark, 1998). This note describes the ways in which leadership and governance at the University of Twente contribute to supporting the university’s entrepreneurial potential. Some basis facts about the university are presented in the table below.

Table 1: Key figures for the University of Twente, year 2016

Degree programmes

20 Bachelor’s; 31 Master’s


10,016 students

New entrants

2,239 Bachelor; 1,274 Master

International students



1,292 Bachelor; 1,300 Master

PhD degrees


Staff (academic + support staff)


Research staff (in fte)

1,144 (of which: 572 PhD candidates)

Support staff (in fte)


Refereed publications



Position in CWTS Leiden Ranking

Position in Times Higher Ranking

393 (for the year 2018)

179 (for the year 2018)

Total revenues

315.5 m€

of which:

198.5 m€ from basic government grant

  81.3 m€ from third parties

  22.6 m€ from tuition fees

Total number of spin-off companies

1,000 (since 1984)

Source: Website and Annual reports University of Twente

Background: Twente, history

Twente is a region located in the East of the Netherlands. It is the most urbanised region of the Dutch province Overijssel, combining fourteen municipalities with around 626,500 inhabitants (3,6% of the Dutch population) who mainly live in its three largest cities: Almelo (72,500 inhabitants), Hengelo (81 000), and Enschede (158 000). The region shares a border with Germany at the East and is part of EUREGIO, a geographic region covering parts of the Netherlands and Germany. The region has a strong manufacturing industry (metal, electrical engineering, chemicals). SMEs play an important role in Twente’s economy, as 78% of employees are situated in micro businesses (21%), small companies (24%), medium-sized companies (25%), or are self-employed (8%). Twente also has strong trade and health care sectors. Its local textile sector, once called the high-tech industry of its time, suffered a severe downfall after the 2nd World War, since it was not able to adapt to the international competition. This had a substantial negative impact on the economy of the region.

The Twente region positions itself as an entrepreneurial region with a “strong technological profile and growing international ambitions” (Twente Board, 2015). The region accounts for approximately 2,9% of Dutch GDP. After a downward trend in 2012 and 2013, the Twente economy has seen positive economic growth. The growth of employment has been almost entirely due to the rising numbers of self-employed workers, as well as of micro, small, and medium-sized companies.

As part of the manufacturing sector, the high-tech systems and materials (HTSM) sector is of vital importance to the Twente region, with employment rates as high as 9,8% in 2015 (vis-à-vis 6,4% in the Netherlands). Furthermore, the HTSM sector is well connected to other regional focus areas and sectors such as health care, production technology, and construction. The majority of the companies in the HTSM sector can be found in the cities of Enschede (900), Hengelo (520), and Almelo (300).

The University of Twente (UT) was founded in 1961 as the third technical university in the Netherlands with the aim of boosting the local economy. Partly thanks to its campus, the university has distinguished itself since from other Dutch universities. Unlike the other technical universities in the Netherlands it has a strong social sciences component, in addition to its engineering core.

The Twente region includes two other higher education institutions. Both are universities of applied sciences: Saxion University of Applied Sciences, offering a wide range of professional programmes, and ARTEZ, offering programmes in music and fine arts. Intermediate (i.e. non-higher education) vocational education is offered by the ROC Twente. In line with its historical mission and entrepreneurial spirit, the University of Twente is committed to making an economic and social contribution to the Twente region. It is located on the Drienerlo estate, situated between the cities of Hengelo and Enschede. The university is a campus university, where many students and staff live and work. More recently, the university location has become more firmly embedded in the surrounding Business and Science Park, an ecosystem for innovation, entrepreneurship and talent development.

The science park advertises itself as a high-tech innovation campus. It houses several companies and is also known as the Kennispark Twente. In 2018, more than 470 companies offering employment to more than 6,000 jobs were located at Kennispark, making it the biggest science park in the Netherlands (Buck Consultants, 2018). The foundation responsible for managing Kennispark is known as Novel-T. Novel-T provides support to academic start-ups; it is the ‘knowledge transfer shell’ of the University of Twente and Saxion University of Applied Sciences. Novel-T is located on the university’s premises in a building named ‘The Gallery’. The Gallery offers accommodation and high-quality facilities for knowledge-intensive companies, open innovation centres and support services for innovative companies. The activities of Novel-T are described in more detail in another case study (Entrepreneurship Development at the University of Twente) that can be read on the HEInnovate website.


Entrepreneurship is a major part of the university’s strategy. Since 1986, and long before any other Dutch university, the University of Twente has profiled itself as the entrepreneurial university. It is regarded as one of the leaders in entrepreneurship and venturing. It has a strong track record of creating spin-off companies and providing support to entrepreneurial students and academics. The entrepreneurial focus is very much part of the university’s teaching and scholarship. All faculties pay attention to entrepreneurship in their curricula, either as a subject in itself or embedded in other subjects. Education programs are aimed at educating the professional of the future and particularly pay attention to entrepreneurial knowledge and skills. The university’s success in this area is reflected in a large number of innovations and spinoffs (e.g. the company Booking.com). In 2013, 2015 and 2017 the university was awarded the prize of most entrepreneurial university in the Netherlands. 1

The vision and mission of the university has an impact on the way it shapes its leadership and governance. Therefore, we will start our description of the University of Twente’s governance and leadership with the University’s vision statement2:

“We are the leading entrepreneurial university. We constantly anticipate future developments and respond rapidly and effectively to the changing world around us. Our staff are experts in their field and set the agenda for public debate. Our ongoing interaction with industry, research institutes and government generates ground-breaking research and world-class innovations. We produce outstanding graduates who excel by combining expertise from a range of fields as they design solutions that meet the demands of the future, in the Netherlands and throughout the world.”

This vision underlies the university’s strategic plan Vision2020, and it is translated into the following four core values – or goals – of the University of Twente:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Global citizens
  • Societal impact
  • Excellence in combinations

The four core values resonate in the education and research activities undertaken by the university and in its structures, facilities and its internal policies – such as human resources policy, resource allocation and quality assurance.

The core value of entrepreneurship is illustrated by the Gallery, a large campus building that offers accommodation and high-quality facilities for knowledge-intensive companies, open innovation centres and service desks for innovative companies. It consists of over 13,000 m2 of space, the largest part of which is rented out to companies and service providers. In the coming years, the Gallery will be expanded to 45,000 m2 to host various kinds of entrepreneurial activity, thus providing a home for spin-offs founded by its student entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship is part of our DNA” is a statement often made by people working in the University of Twente.

In terms of educating global citizens one can observe that many students and members of staff of the University of Twente come from other countries. About 40% of incoming students are from abroad (many from Germany) and a third of the academic staff holds a non-Dutch nationality. The university also enjoys extensive contacts with universities and firms abroad and attracts a significant share of its funding from international companies. The close international ties encourage students to complete part of their studies abroad and widen their horizons. Such international input enables students to develop into the global citizens of the future.

As concerns the societal impact goal, the University of Twente is dedicated to making a difference through its research and aims to ensure that its results are used to help improve and perhaps even save people’s lives.

The university strives to create excellence in combinations. This is reflected in the university’s educational programmes, that allow students a wide choice in combining courses and minor programmes. Research is very much driven by the university’s motto ‘Hi Tech Human Touch’, which expresses the university’s conviction that technological and social innovations need to go hand in hand. It does so by leading the way in responding to the demands of society and creating relevant combinations between

Organisational structure

The university’s organisational chart is shown in Figure 1. This picture shows the new organizational structure, after the recent (2017) reorganisation. The Executive Board is the highest executive council of the University of Twente. It is charged with the administration and management of the University. The board consists of three members: a chair, a vice-chair and the rector magnificus. They are appointed by the Supervisory Board (i.e. the Board of Trustees). The Executive Board regularly meets with the University Council, the main representative advisory body of the university.

Faculties are the 'backbone' of the organization, they house the educational and disciplinary research programmes. The education and research take place in five faculties: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences (BMS), Engineering Technology (CTW), Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EWI), Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) and Science and Technology (TNW). The faculties (formally: the deans) make the key personnel appointments, including decisions on tenure track staff. Key decisions on hiring researchers are often made after consultation with research institute directors. Faculties are the disciplinary home of all academic staff. They have a multiple-person faculty board consisting of a dean and portfolio holders for education, research and operational affairs. A student adviser is given the opportunity to attend the meetings of the board but she/he has no decision-making powers.

The university’s strategic decisions are negotiated within the Strategic Council, consisting of the Executive Board, the deans of the five faculties, the scientific directors of the research institutes, the Secretary of the university (the highest official adviser of the Board) and the director of the Strategic Business Development (SBD) unit. There are four advisory bodies (committees): for education policy and educational reform (UCOW), for research (UCOZ), for support services (UCB) and for innovation (UCI). The latter, the University Committee for Innovation, consists of the chairman of the executive board, the grant officers of the research institutes, and representatives from the university’s Strategic Business Development unit and its Strategy & Policy (S&P) unit. The CCI is tasked with advising on policies and structures on the area of knowledge transfer (valorisation in Dutch).

Figure 1: University of Twente: organisational structure

Source: University of Twente website

The faculties provide the staff of the research institutes. Until 2018 there were four research institutes, each with their own distinctive research profiles. From January 2018 onwards, the research institutes have been integrated into the faculties. The original four institutes were working on the themes of (1) nanotechnology, (2) telematics & information technology, (3) biomedical technology & technical medicine, and (4) innovation & governance studies. The three ‘new style’ research institutes that started in 2018 are founded on the ‘old style’ institutes. They are interfaculty collaborations that aim to create social and scientific impact through a cross-disciplinary approach, focusing on the multidisciplinary themes of Nanotechnology (MESA+), Technical Medical research (TechMed) and the Digital Society Institute. Scientific directors are the figurehead of the institutes. The institutes are no longer a management unit: in the new organizational structure the scientific director no longer has any management tasks. The scientific director will fully focus on the institute’s profile and the acquisition of external funds.

The research institutes act as multidisciplinary connectors of various expertise groups and have a strong external orientation, focusing on the business world, funding agencies, and international research sponsors (e.g. the European Commission). The institutes provide a distinctive added value on top of the faculty backbone, enhancing the university’s visibility and acting as innovation hubs. The institutes consist of a number of Principal Investigators (PIs) from different faculties within a specific domain on which the university wishes to profile itself. Keywords are: external visibility, interdisciplinarity, and links to the global challenges, such as the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Scientific directors play a key role in initiating, coordinating and organizing cross-disciplinary programs. As a collective the institutes contribute to making grant proposals linked to the strategic research portfolio of the university.

The Strategic Business Development (SBD) unit works across the faculties and research institutes. It integrates all university employees whose function primarily focuses on valorisation. Valorisation is the Dutch term for knowledge exchange, or “creating value from knowledge.” The mission of SBD is to help increase the economic and social impact of the University of Twente (UT) by supporting the connection between the university’s research and the outside world. This connection is expected to result in an increase in external revenues. SBD is founded on the principle that valorisation is an important core value within the UT and part of the tasks of every scientist. It is an essential part of the tasks of the scientific directors. The research institutes therefore have a business director – a kind of grant officer – that partly works for the research institute and partly for SBD in his/her work on promoting valorisation.

The Strategic Business Development unit is part of the Novel-T structure. It is charged with exploiting the intellectual property of the university. SBD works on building partnerships with companies, including through PhD projects and two-year professional doctorates in engineering (PdEng) programmes. The SBD unit has quite a bit of room to manoeuvre and to be enterprising in its operations. It has a director, heading a team of self-steering professionals who may be temporarily recruited from the faculties. The team includes business developers who help researchers develop project proposals. SBD also consists of professional grant officers that assist researchers in acquiring funds from Dutch and European research councils (e.g. the European Research Council).

As part of the interconnected (i.e. crosscutting) units (shown on the right-hand side of Figure 1) there are the University College Twente (UCT), offering honours programmes to selected Bachelor-level students and the Twente Graduate School (TGS), offering some general training modules to the university’s PhD candidates and its research master’s students. Pre-U (previously known as Twente Academy) is a pre-university college and pupils lab that organizes activities for primary school pupils and pupils from the first grades of secondary school. Another interconnected unit is the Design Lab. The DesignLab provides facilities that allow connecting science and society through design thinking. Faculty and students from all fields can work together in the DesignLab with companies and public sector organisations to implement and develop scientific and technological solutions for complex societal challenges. The activities of the Design Lab and more broadly, the work of Novel-T are described in another paper that is part of the HEInnovate resources devoted to the University of Twente.

Not shown in the organisational chart is the Student Union. The Student Union is the umbrella representative body for all students and student organizations at the university. The University of Twente has issued the Student Union with a mandate to formulate policies for the activities of the student associations and the broader student facilities on the campus.

The University of Twente is directly accountable to the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, who appoints the university’s Supervisory Board that is responsible for overseeing the strategic management and the planning of the university. This board of trustees is composed completely of outsiders from the university (five in all). Their duty is to evaluate the course of the university, approve its budget and its annual report. With the Executive Board they discuss the University of Twente’s performance and its progress in terms of the Vision 2020 ambitions. The Supervisory Board also functions as a buffer between the government and the executive board of the university.

The university’s role in innovation and encouraging entrepreneurship

In the Netherlands, and at the University of Twente in particular, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills are considered to be crucial for transforming research and education inputs into outputs that have a value in an economic, social, and/or cultural sense. Creating value from knowledge is among the statutory duties (i.e. the missions) of Dutch universities. This duty is also known as valorisation.

Dutch science and technology policy is partly driven by the idea of prioritisation, meaning a focus on a limited number of key economic sectors, all of them knowledge intensive and regarded as particularly important for the competitiveness of the Netherlands. Since the year 2011 this is known as the Top Sector policy (Jongbloed, 2018). The nine key sectors selected are: agro-food: horticulture and propagating stock; high-technology materials and systems; energy; logistics; creative industries; life sciences and health; chemicals; and water. All of the top sectors have a high R&D intensity and a strong orientation on international trade and exports. Given its industry and employment structure, four top sectors are very relevant for the region of Twente: High-Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM), Life Sciences and Health, Agro & Food, and Energy (including bio-based economy).

These four top sectors also are very much in line with the four strategic research areas of the University of Twente. The four research areas are: Smart Materials, Sensing, Personalized Health Technology and Robotics. In addition, five university-wide profiling themes, based on societal challenges, were determined for the university’s long-term research focus:

  • Improving healthcare with personalized technologies
  • Creating intelligent manufacturing systems
  • Shaping our world with smart materials
  • Engineering our digital society
  • Engineering for a resilient world

As part of its High Tech Human Touch strategy, the university’s research is centred around technology and the role of technology in society. Research has a strong focus on innovation and some of the research projects of the university are carried out together with its regional spin-off companies like DEMCON (see Zomer et al., 2010).

The goal is not just producing technical knowledge and expertise, but also combining this with new business models, innovative designs and practical applications. The main centre for valorisation is Novel-T, the ‘key orchestrator’ of Twente’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. This illustrates that university is seeking to have an impact on innovation in the Twente region. To encourage scientists in valorising their knowledge, the three research institutes described earlier have a business director responsible for commercializing the research carried out in the institute. The university-wide Strategic Business Development unit stimulates cooperation with business, while Novel-T stimulates entrepreneurship and economic valorisation. Novel-T also promotes innovation of the existing businesses by linking them where possible to university research.

Since valorisation is such a broad concept and carried out in many places across the university, the University of Twente has installed a Central Commission for Innovation (CCI), tasked with overseeing the various valorisation activities. The University feels a social responsibility to engage in knowledge valorisation. It shares its knowledge with society through the Science Shop, public debates (in Studium Generale events), XperimenTA, Pre-U (for primary and secondary education pupils), entrepreneurship workshops, the Science Café, Enactus (focused on social entrepreneurship projects across the globe), alliances with the local professional soccer team, and contributions to local and national debates and cultural festivals. In addition, many projects and graduation assignments focus on questions coming from the region. The university participates in various regional networks and organizes cultural activities that are also accessible for the general public. In 2016 it started formulating its vision on social entrepreneurship as part of the vision of its valorisation mission. The university’s campus offers many facilities for sports and culture. Events such as the summer school CuriousU –has been hosted since a few years now. CuriousU is a combination of a summer school and a festival, offering students (both from abroad as well as from the Netherlands) academic courses, music, sports, theatre and inspirational speakers. And one of Europe’s biggest relay races for students – the Batavian Race – is held every year.

Innovation is very prominent in the provincial and regional policy agendas. There is broad acceptance of the need for triple/quadruple helix stakeholder involvement. Like other regions in the Netherlands, also the eastern part of the Netherlands, consisting of the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel, has developed a regional innovation strategy for smart specialization (RIS3). An important trigger for the development of the strategy was the requirement to have strategic frameworks in order to be able to invest European Regional Development Funds in the regions. The strategy is strongly aligned to the Dutch policy for supporting science and innovation – the Top Sector policy. Where possible, the University of Twente aligns its entrepreneurial activity and its knowledge transfer activities to the top sector policy and its translation into the regional smart specialization strategy.

To further enhance the university’s research profile, the University of Twente continues to intensify its collaboration with industry, government, and renowned international knowledge institutes. Two examples are the renowned institutes, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and Max Planck Institute, with which the university collaborates. In 2017, the new ‘Max Planck – University of Twente Center for Complex Fluid Dynamics’was opened on the UT campus. Two University of Twente research groups and two Max Planck Institutes collaborate in this line of research. In addition, in 2017, the Fraunhofer Project Center (FPC) was opened. It is doing R&D on the production chain for thermoplastic composites. This is done in cooperation with companies in the East of the Netherlands, because the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel have a strong concentration of businesses in this field. The University of Twente is cooperating with the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology in Aachen, and Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede. The new consortium is expected to become a strong knowledge hub in the field of High Tech Materials.

All of this goes to show that, due to the shifting focus in the European and Dutch research agendas and the decrease in government funding, the university seeks to increase its revenue from external funding and to further enhance public-private cooperation. This also extends to the university’s PhD and professional doctorates (PdEng) programmes. Together with the Province of Overijssel, the university continues its efforts to acquire funding from the Ministries of Education, Economic Affairs, Infrastructure and Environment, and Health. It also aims to acquire co-investments, like the European Technological Medical Centre (as part of the TechMed institute).

Apart from the Top Sector policy, the national government has been implementing its Valorisation Programme. This programme was initiated in 2010 by the ministries of Education and Economic Affairs and lasted until 2018. It provided subsidies for stimulating, realizing and anchoring valorisation activities in Dutch higher education institutions. The aim was to professionalise the knowledge transfer process in the Netherlands and bringing together companies, knowledge and research institutes, civil society organisations and local and regional governments.

A budget of EUR 63million was available for supporting 12 projects, carried out by regional consortia and grouped around one or more higher education institutions in a region, led by a research university. The University of Twente and Novel-T also received a valorisation subsidy. The programme has been helpful in encouraging the various parties to equip the valorisation infrastructure in and around universities and to professionalize the valorisation activities. Through the Valorisation Programme, institutions received an amount of up to 50% co-funding for their valorisation plans (with a maximum of EUR 5 million), on the condition that plans were carried out by a public-private consortium of partners. Currently, twelve regional consortia are active in different parts of the Netherlands – despite of the fact that the Valorisation Programme has come to an end.

The Ministry of Education’s Strategic Agenda on Higher Education and Research (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 2015), its Science Vision 2025 (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 2014) and the National Research Agenda (Kenniscoalitie, 2015) include several policy measures that aim to improve the performance of the Dutch science system (Jongbloed, 2018). The National Research Agenda identifies promising challenges for science that arise from social and economic challenges. It was drawn up by an alliance of stakeholders (in Dutch: Kenniscoalitie), consisting of the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the public institutes (labs) for applied research (TNO), the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW), the Royal Association SME Netherlands and the Confederation of Academic Medical centres (NFU). The government has stated that it wishes to make the Research Agenda its leading instrument in the award of funds for science. An important role in this is played by the Dutch research council (NWO). NWO these days is very much encouraging thematic, cross-disciplinary research in the implementation of the National Research Agenda. In the research projects funded by NWO, firms and scientists are increasingly expected to join forces, thereby addressing grand societal challenges. In deciding on the awarding of research funding, NWO is explicitly taking into account the valorisation plans of scientists in their research proposals.

In securing its place and relevance in the increasingly competitive higher education and research landscape of the Netherlands (and Europe in general), one of the key challenges for the University of Twente is its relatively small size (10,000 students) and its location (somewhat remote from the large metropolitan regions in the Netherlands). In addition, unlike some other regions in the Netherlands, the Twente region does not have any large high-tech business or multinational organisations. Therefore, when it comes to HEInnovate’s leadership and governance dimension, one of the ways in which the University of Twente has tried to overcome the limitations related to size and location is to actively seek strong partners to form networks with. The regional partners have already been mentioned here (see also Kopelyan & Nieth, 2018), but the academic partners located elsewhere in the Netherlands or abroad are equally important. It is to the academic alliances that we will now turn.

The University of Twente is one of the founding members (in 1997) of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU – see: https://www.eciu.org/). The thirteen ECIU member universities have a strong commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship. Regional development is also a key goal of ECIU universities.

The University of Twente is one of three universities of technology in the Netherlands (the others being TU Delft and Eindhoven University of Technology) and, together with Wageningen University (that focuses on agriculture and life sciences), has formed the national 4TU Federation (https://www.4tu.nl/en/). According to its mission statement, the 4TU partners are jointly committed to strengthening and pooling their technical knowledge with the aim of producing sufficient numbers of highly qualified engineers and technical designers, of conducting outstanding and socially relevant research of an international standard, and of promoting cooperation between research institutes and businesses. The universities in the consortium in particular have tried to bundle their research and agree on each institution’s specific focus areas in research and education portfolio. The 4TU federation actively seeks to influence the government’s research and innovation agenda – both at the national and the regional level.

The four universities have expressed their ambitions in the area of knowledge transfer in the 4TU Impact plan (4TU, 2017) – the 4TU valorisation strategy. The 4TU Impact plan is designed to stimulate and upscale the development of the knowledge economy, building on existing (valorisation) programmes and cooperation. Previously, this was mainly approached regionally. The belief is that more can be achieved if the universities join forces. The 4TU impact plan consists of four modules:

  1. Cooperation with businesses: the impulse model
  2. Living labs
  3. Business Development & Entrepreneurship
  4. Start-up financing

The Impulse model focuses on research in cooperation with businesses, with the research being funded by the businesses, knowledge institutions, government and other public organisations. The ambition for the next five years is to realize €393million worth of long-term research with businesses and to acquire €600million (including from EU/H2020) in associated research funding. These funds will be used to create 1,000 junior research (PhD-candidate) positions.

The Living Lab model focuses on the joint development and implementation of innovative projects that will produce concrete services and products with a reasonably short time to market. Researchers, students and SMEs collaborate in thematic projects. The ambition is to generate a collective turnover of €137million in these projects.

The third module, Business Development and Entrepreneurship, is based on a variety of pillars, in order to convert research results into societal value. For years, the knowledge institutions of 4TU have been leaders in start-up development, and they are aiming to achieve an additional 500 start-ups, 100 spin-offs and 30 scale-ups. The ambition is to train 20,000 students in entrepreneurship.

The fourth module is about start-up financing. Through a professionally supervised funding process involving finance funds that start with pre-seed funding (feasibility testing and organisational set-up), the market introduction of new business ideas will be promoted. Pre-seed and Seed funds (Tech Seed Funds) will be made available – in total amounting to nearly €100million.

The 4TU Impact (or valorisation) plan is visualized below

Source: 4TU Impact plan (https://www.4tu.nl/valorization/en/4tu-impactplan-20180620.pdf)

The 4TU IMPACT Plan is based on the premise of cooperation between the knowledge institutions and businesses, regional and national governments and other parties (e.g. research council and public research laboratories). Partners closely involved with the 4TU IMPACT plan include the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In total, the plan amounts to over €650m over five years, of which the 4TU partners vow to contribute €150m. More or less the same amount is expected to be provided by public partners (research council, ministries, regional governments). The remainder is coming from business (€350m).

The ambition was to establish a High-Tech Seed Fund valued at €75million. This goal has already been achieved through the establishment of the Innovation Industries Fund on 17 June 2017. Innovation Industries is a new technology fund that will be investing €75million in approximately 20 promising high-tech companies in the Netherlands in the next ten years.

In December 2017, the four universities of technology called upon their scientists to submit joint research proposals within the umbrella theme 'High tech for a sustainable future'. Of the 17 proposals that were submitted, five have now been awarded funding worth a total of 22 m€ for the period up to the end of 2022. 3 Funding came from dedicated budgets related to the Dutch National Research Agenda (see above).


Buck Consultants International (2018), Inventarisatie en meerwaarde van campussen in Nederland. Den Haag: BCI.

Clark, B.R. (1998), Creating Entrepreneurial Universities: Organizational Pathways of Transformation. Oxford: IAU Press by Pergamon.

Jongbloed, B. (2018), Overview of the Dutch science system. CHEPS Working Paper. Available online at: https://www.utwente.nl/en/bms/cheps/research/CHEPSWorkingPaperSeries/

Kenniscoalitie (2015), Nationale Wetenschapsagenda. Vragen, verbindingen, vergezichten. The Hague: NWO. English version available at: https://wetenschapsagenda.nl/publicatie/dutch-national-research-agenda-english/?lang=en

Kopelyan, S., and L. Nieth (2018), Regional Mission Impossible? The Twente Region and the University of Twente. RUNIN Working paper. Available online at: https://ris.utwente.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/22081709/02_2018_Kopelyan_Nieth_Twente_Regional_Mission_Possible.pdf

Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (2014), Wetenschapsvisie 2025. Keuzes voor de Toekomst. The Hague: Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (2015), De waarde(n) van weten: Strategische Agenda Hoger Onderwijs en Onderzoek 2015-2025. The Hague: Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Available online at: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/kamerstukken/2015/07/07/aanbieding-strategische-agenda-hoger-onderwijs-en-onderzoek

Zomer, A., Jongbloed, B. and Enders, J. (2010), Do Spin-Offs Make the Academics’ Heads Spin? The Impacts of Spin-Off Companies on Their Parent Research Organisation. Minerva, Vol. 48, No. 3, pp 331–353.


1 See: https://www.utwente.nl/en/news/!/2017/12/312872/the-ut-has-the-highest-impact-in-the-netherlands-and-has-once-again-been-named-the-most-entrepreneurial-university

2 See: https://www.utwente.nl/en/organization/about/vision/

3 See: https://www.4tu.nl/en/news/!/84378/awarding_hightech/

  • Case studies
Submitted on:
19 Sep 2015