EU and Dutch government officials visit Brainport & Fontys ICT InnnovationLab
Commissioner Gabriel opted to visit the Brainport region to get an in-depth insight into the innovative ecosystem of the region. One of three partners she will visit in this ecosystem is Fontys University of Applied Sciences. In a hybrid learning environment, Fontys connects innovation, education and research. The Commissioner and Minister will be experiencing the applied innovation environment first-hand with presentations by students, researchers and partners from the work field united in the partner cooperation SPARC (Sharing Platform For Applied Research Co-Operation). The visit will focus on the key role of hybrid education and applied research in the Brainport region, connecting academia and work field expertise through meaningful innovation and education.
Applied Research as a bridge to market-readiness
Universities of Applied Sciences play a pivotal role in exploring how academic concepts and theories can be turned into market-ready solutions and applications. In an ecosystem, such as the Brainport Region, Fontys is increasingly connected to both academic institutions as well as the work field. This requires extensive cooperation and co-creation with stakeholders, explains Joep Houterman (Chairman of the Board at Fontys): "In the chain of research and innovation in the Brainport region, applied research plays a vital role. Fontys, with its 46.000 students and over 5.000 professionals, lecturers and researchers, conceptualizes this idea in hybrid learning environments as an ecosystem of innovation. In such an environment, everybody can learn, research and innovate - both student and professional." Rene Wijlens, executive director at EPSI (European Platform for Sport Innovation), one of the Fontys research partners, confirms how important this connection within the ecosystem is: “Within the Q-helix Innovation Cluster Sports & Technology we experience in our projects and activities the added value of collaboration and short lines between applied knowledge partners, (SME) companies, governments and end users to successfully provide innovative solutions for social issues around sport and vitality. The easy connection from knowledge to expertise to cash register is a key factor in realising innovation projects that have impact in practice.“
Hybrid environments expands on the overall vision of Fontys as 'Fontys for Society', which embodies meaningful knowledge creation and innovation that positively impacts society. Accelerating the concept-to-market chain requires an increased level of cooperation, particularly for novel and transformative technologies like artificial intelligence. Application in such case requires complex forms of cooperation, which perfectly fits the mould of hybrid learning perfectly.
Fontys ICT InnovationLab
Fontys is exploring the concept of hybrid learning environments in various forms. One of these is the Fontys ICT InnovationLab. Ad Vissers, director of the Fontys School of ICT: "In this hybrid learning environment, research groups, industry partners, lecturers and our ICT students work on applied research questions and the development of tomorrow's ICT solutions. Directly applicable in the work field through our partners. Located in the historical heart of innovation in Eindhoven – Strijp-T, the InnovationLab is growing into a knowledge hub where education, research and business amplify and accelerate each other."
Cooperation to tackle wicked problems
The Fontys ICT InnovationLab offers a tangible example of how the hybrid learning environment of tomorrow could take shape. As part of the visit, students and researchers will present various projects related to applied research on artificial intelligence. This transformative technology can form a wicked problem without straight-forward answers, which requires extensive cooperation between all stakeholders in the innovation chain. A new form of cooperation on innovation, through meaningful education and research, to which hybrid learning environments may be the key.