Cooperation in these areas has led to the formation of five 4TU study programmes, nine 4TU.Research Centres, and a joint vision on knowledge valorisation. The parameters and starting points of this working partnership are based on developments in the field of technology at both Dutch and European level. International social trends and developments form the basis of the main areas of emphasis at the three universities of technology. By testing, by being adaptable, and through renewal, we are safeguarding our capacity for technological innovation and, therefore, the existence of the 4TU.Federation. This is a dynamic process in a dynamic environment.
Looking at Europe
Europe has an important place in our plans. It will be a major source for our research funding, and our 4TU Master’s study programmes and designers’ programmes have opted to position themselves prominently in Europe. The universities of technology in Europe are united in CESAER, which receives strong input from its three Dutch members.
Results in the field of education
For the period from 2011 to 2013, it was agreed that the activities should focus entirely on the quality of education. The following goals are described, and have been achieved, in the 3TU Science and Technology sector plan:
- Increase in the number of credits obtained per student per year
- Reduction of dropout rates after the first year
- Increase in the number of technological designers
- Strengthening of connections between VWO/HBO and WO (pre-university education/higher professional education and higher education at research universities)
- Safeguarding the basis of applied mathematics teaching at the universities of technology
The initial trends are described in the evaluation of the 2011-2013 sector plan. The actual effects of the activities will be clearly visible in 2016.
4TU Master’s programme
Following the recent accreditation process, our 4TU Master’s programmes now bear a renewed stamp of quality. Our ambitions in cooperating within the programmes themselves will continue to be expanded and enlarged. In the process, the 4TU Master’s programmes will serve as testing grounds for innovation in engineering education.
Areas of focus: Centres of Competence and Excellence
In 2006, the 3TU.Federation (Wageningen not inlcuded) started a programme for the formation of particular areas of focus, which were embodied in Centres of Competence in the same year. Since then, four additional new initiatives have been launched, and another two new areas of focus have been added as part of the further operationalisation of the current sector plan. It has also been decided that control in the field of nanotechnology and energy will be relinquished at 3TU level. The range of areas of focus consists of the following nine 4TU.Research Centres:
- High Tech Systems (4TU.HTS)
- Netherlands Institute of Research on ICT (4TU.NIRICT)
- Fluid and Solid Mechanics (4TU.FSM)
- Applied Mathematics Institute (4TU.AMI)
- Ethics & Technology (4TU.Ethics)
- Built Environment (4TU.BE)
- Design United (4TU.DU)
- High Tech Materials (4TU.HTM)
- Human-Technology Interaction (4TU.HTI)
4TU.Centre for Research Data
In 2008, the 3TU.Federation (Wageningen not included) created state-of-the-art facilities for carefully storing scientific research data and making it permanently accessible. The 3TU.Data Centre arose from this pilot scheme; it meets a growing demand on the part of research groups at the universities. For a reasonable fee, groups from outside the Federation can also use the accumulated expertise and the facilities. The 3TU.Data Centre entered into a working partnership with Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) in the spring, in which both parties operate to each other’s mutual benefit. DANS focuses primarily on statistical information from the humanities and social sciences, while the 3TU.Data Centre is more concerned with digital data in technical and science subjects. In 2016 the centre was renamed: 4TU.Centre for Research Data.
The European Union has drawn up a vision for open access data for 2030, in which the seamless use, reuse and reliability of data is supported by academic e-infrastructure. The 4TU.Centre for Research Data has taken up the gauntlet and is functioning as a living lab for developments that could contribute towards this realising this vision.
For some time now, the three universities of technology have been investing in the effective translation of knowledge into economic activities. This is proceeding effectively and successfully, as shown for example from the way in which the knowledge workers scheme was implemented. The sector plan includes the creation of a national fund for start-up businesses and the growth of successful innovative companies. With the introduction of the Innovatiefonds MKB+ (‘SME+ innovation fund’), the government has achieved this objective.
TU Delft Valorisation Centre, Kennispark Twente, and Eindhoven University of Technology Innovation Lab are coordinating and encouraging their activities primarily in their own regions. The three universities of technology will be aligning their policy regarding patents, framework contracts with industry, promotion of entrepreneurship, education geared to entrepreneurship and support of techno-starters with each other. The activities are funded by each of the institutes themselves.