What’s the Good Practice about?
The Centre of Expertise Smart Sustainable Cities is a platform established by the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (HU), creating a regional network of companies, local and regional authorities, and knowledge institutions to work together on a sustainable, smart and healthy city. Within the Centre of Expertise, we drive and direct activities in which professionals, researchers, lecturers, and students with different areas of expertise work together on complex issues. Together, they conduct innovative research, develop new business through innovations and ensure that (future) professionals are better trained for the labor market.
Why implementing the Good Practice? What are the special features of the Good Practice?
We believe it is important that people live together healthily and safely in a sustainable, smart, and healthy city. Therefore, we work on solutions for the complex issues within this field. We do this by connecting and enabling organizations, research, and education to learn together from issues in their complex reality. This involves challenging the boundaries of disciplines and sectors in order to find meaningful solutions, and the way to get there is part of the solution. Furthermore, former students who participated in the challenges are getting into great positions focused on sustainability in companies.
What are the challenges in implementing the Good Practice? What’s the key to success?
There are some challenges and risks one must keep track on: the financing of the CoE is one important factor.
The shortage of trained professionals at companies gives urgency but also shortage of real co-creation and cooperation. Also, the cultural differences between education institutes and companies can be challenging. Key to success is a strong commitment of the partners from both business and educational organizations. The CoE acts demand-driven with a decisive team.
For the financing, the CoE has developed a number of business models for the activities in the platform where the partners contribute in kind or in cash. Companies mostly provide contributions in kind (guest lectures, equipment, expertise). The HU provides structural financing in blocks of 4 years to support the CoE.
The development of public-private projects with subsidies (national and European) has been the most successful model of the last years.