In 2013, Maastricht University, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences and the Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+) took the initiative for Kennis-As, a strategic ten-year programme to strengthen the social and economic structure in Limburg. In March 2015, the Fontys University of Applied Sciences joined as the fourth knowledge institution. Central to Kennis-As is the reinforcement and connection of the four Brightlands campuses that are generally regarded the current and future flywheels of the economic development. Kennis-As also stimulates a healthy and vital population.
Kennis-As dovetails with the nationwide programme Brainport 2020, aimed at transforming the south-eastern Netherlands into a knowledge economy of international stature in the fields of biomaterials, agri/food and health. The programme also fits in the European agenda, which explicitly incorporates ageing, health and sustainability.
The four Brightlands campuses serve as the flywheels of Kennis-As:
Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus
The Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus presents the profile of the international valorisation campus in connection with research in the fields of medicine and health care sciences.
Brightlands Chemelot Campus
The Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen is an open innovation campus where large and small knowledge intensive enterprises work together with educational institutes, such as UM, Zuyd, RWTH Aachen and TU Eindhoven on bio-based and biomedical materials.
Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo
The Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo develops into the specific place where knowledge about food, nutrition and health further evolves.
Brightlands Smart Services Campus
The Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen is an expertise and innovation centre for smart services and business intelligence. It is the place where education, government and trade and industry meet, and where the focus is on (open) innovation of products and services.
Together, the three founders and Fontys invest €190 million in engaging projects and developments on and around the campuses in Maastricht, Geleen, Venlo and Heerlen. The Province of Limburg matches the investments with the same amount; this leads to a total of €380 million that is available to initiate and expand projects.
Together with the investments by trade and industry and (inter)national subsidies about €600 million will expectedly be invested in the Limburg economy. Calculations indicate that this will lead to 2300 direct and 10.000 indirect jobs. The further expansion and linkage of the campuses also has international effects. Collaborations with various knowledge institutes in the border region are being initiated.
The first projects, mostly on the initiative of Maastricht University, have been launched. These projects share a series of characteristics. Without exception they are multidisciplinary and nurtured by various (scientific and social) partners; they seek connections with trade and industry and focus on either the social issues in Limburg or the economic strengths in the region. That way they guarantee a sustainable reinforcement the economic and social structure in Limburg.
The following projects have already started:
Aachen Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials: AMIBM
- Business Intelligence and Smart Services Institute: BISS
- Educatieve Agenda Limburg: EAL
- Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility: ITEM
- Limburg Invests in its Knowledge Economy: LINK
- The healthy elementary school of the future: Movare
- University College Venlo
- Healthy Eating and Food Innovation: HEFI
Several new initiatives of the Kennis-As partners will soon be realised.
It was a good decision in 2013 to invest in Kennis-As together with Maastricht UMC+ and Zuyd Hogeschool. A knowledge economy is crucial to the further development of Limburg. Knowledge generates economic benefits and employment. We want to position this region as a European knowledge region that attracts people and sends out the message that Limburg is the place to be. Now that the projects are taking off, we also see positive effects internationally. On the Brightlands Campus in Geleen for example, scientists and students from many countries work together with trade and industry on innovations. For UM, Kennis-As means that we can further strengthen our international profile, inside and outside the Euregion. Together with partners we build new programmes and research institutes on both sides of the borders. That way we create a cosmopolitan and attractive region.
Martin Paul, President Maastricht University
The Kennis-As programme of Maastricht University and its partners gives a new impetus to the region. It can certainly make a difference in Limburg. The robust support from the Province of Limburg enables us to work on the Brightlands campuses, together with the other knowledge institutes and trade and industry, towards sustainable reinforcement of the knowledge infrastructure and the Limburg economy. And UM has the best of both worlds: in our quest for the translation of knowledge into new applications for trade and industry, this a clever and effective way for us to realize innovations in education and research. The first project results are promising in that respect, but they are long-term developments that need time to flourish. In 2023, we will take stock. I am confident that we will have come a long way by then.”
Nick Bos, Vice-President Maastricht University