RRI Dutch style

Insights into how to support Responsible Research and Innovation from the University of TWENTE

As part of the NUCLEUS project (http://www.nucleus-project.eu), we at the Beltane are acting as a mentor to the University of Twente in the Netherlands as it looks to embed good practice in Responsible Research and Innovation in its institutional processes and culture. My role is to act as a sounding board and to share some of the experiences of culture change I have encountered as part of the Beacons for Public Engagement project (https://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/work-with-us/completed-projects/beacons ).

As usual in these types of relationship, information and learning flows both ways, and on a recent visit to Twente hosted by Nucleus project partners Anne M. Dijkstra and Mirjam Schuijff, I found there is a lot we can learn from their current practice.

There were two areas in particular that fascinated me. The Dutch approach to open-access publishing and the University of Twente’s Design Lab.

Open Access Publishing

The Netherlands are at the leading edge in their efforts to implement universal open-access publishing standards. In 2013 the Dutch government announced its aim to have 60 percent of Dutch academic publication available through open access within five years (2019) and 100 percent within ten years (2024).

The 14 Dutch universities have joined forced via the VSNU (http://www.vsnu.nl/en_GB/ ) to negotiate deals with leading publishers (see https://www.utwente.nl/en/news/!/2017/1/148304/free-open-access ). They have secured deals, which mean their subscriptions, as well as providing access to the journals, ensure papers published by their staff can be freely accessed by those without a subscription in certain journals.

The challenge currently faced by the library staff is to raise awareness among researchers so they take advantage of these deals. Dutch researchers prioritise publishing in high impact journals, and are not always aware of the different routes available to them to produce open access papers. You can see some of their efforts here: https://www.utwente.nl/en/service-abc/!/product/p908815/open-access-publishing.

The Design Lab

The Design Lab aims to enable the use knowledge from the university in multidisciplinary projects, with high societal impacts, through design.

Based in a refurbished building hosting spin-off and local high tech companies, it was what I imagined Google or Facebook’s offices might be like. There were beanbags, air-hockey tables, construction toys and 3D printers scattered in a large open space. There was light galore, with wonderful views through floor-to-ceiling windows. It was obvious the emphasis was on creativity and fun.

Post Doc Daphne Karreman explained that the lab is based on the concept of “design thinking” where ideas are made ideas tangible as early as possible in design process to enable communication and co-production of shared meaning.

Students are encouraged to use the space for project development, and staff can book flexible spaces to deliver innovative design focused lessons. Spaces and services are also available to companies and communities from outside the university. There are regular events open to the public and the occasional Hack-a-thon.

The design lab provides a physical space for researchers, students, community, companies and ideas to come together. A place for co-producing concepts and solutions. A place where responsive and responsive research and innovation can become reality.

To find out more about our involvement with the NUCLEUS project contact Heather Rea (h.j.rea@ed.ac.uk).