Breeding ground for smart technology can save people’s lives
‘Collaboration between the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the University of Groningen, the UMCG, and industry in the field of smart technology leads to innovation and new economic activity,’ says Hugo Velthuijsen, director of the Marian van Os Centre for Entrepreneurship and initiator of the Digital Society Hub of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. The Digital Society Hub is an innovation workshop in which Groningen-based knowledge institutes together with the Northern business world devise and test smart solutions for the society of tomorrow.
A good example of collaboration that leads to new knowledge and smart products, is the innovation workshop of 5G on the Zernike Campus. 5G Lab offers a test environment for the development of services boosted by a new generation of mobile internet. Here students and companies, for instance, develop smart communication technology that enables live interaction between ambulance staff and an overseeing specialist at the hospital.
Hugo: ‘By optimising direct contact between paramedics on location and a medical specialist at a distance, health situations can be assessed more quickly, medical treatment can be coordinated more efficiently, and it can be better determined to which hospital the patient must be transported to for specialist help. Important, because in care provision every second counts.’
Healthcare innovation where its success is partly dependent on optimal planning. Hugo: ‘The key is that a specialist must always be present in the hospital to effectuate care provision. The question then is: how as a hospital do you organise and guarantee that this specialist is also actually on hand on a daily basis? Our knowledge institutions house the expertise in the field of logistics to support hospitals in this.’
The intensive public-private collaboration between Northern knowledge institutions and the business world leads to valorisation and social impact. ‘A collaboration with added value,’ Hugo Velthuijsen continues enthusiastically: ‘Take our student Wilco Stollenga.’
Wilco Stollenga, a student of Industrial Engineering and Management at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, is the son of a farmer. His mission within the 5G Lab is to use drones to monitor the continual state of his father’s crops in order to be able to fertilise, irrigate or administer pesticides more accurately. The data generated by the drone will be sent to the University of Groningen’s Computing Centre on the Zernike Campus. The Computing Centre analyses the data and, based on the findings, sends an action plan that can be inserted into the cabin computer of agricultural machinery. Hugo: ‘A fine example of smart farming that supports the student’s father, and now others too, to optimise the operating profit of his fields through sustainable precision agriculture. The student has now accommodated his idea in his own startup, Agrifly.
Hugo Velthuijsen, in addition to his role as director of the Marion van Os Centre for Entrepreneurship, is director of CUBE050, the incubator for startups of the University of Groningen and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the latter of which is where he is also a Lecturer in New Business & ICT. In the spring, he joined the Programme Board of the Northern Knowledge open innovation platform of the University of Groningen, the UMCG and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, situated on the Kadijk.
Hugo: ‘Northern Knowledge offers a unique platform to showcase the rich harvest of innovation and entrepreneurship that distinguishes us in the Northern Netherlands in order to develop even more clout in this field when setting up new research. For entrepreneurs, Northern Knowledge is a visible on-site centre from which demand-driven projects can be started together with knowledge institutes.
A good example of demand-driven contemporary entrepreneurship that deserves a place in the Northern Knowledge showcase is the Groningen startup Mr. Chadd, states Velthuijsen. Mr. Chadd connects secondary school students and university coaches via a smart platform to solve homework problems through the app. The startup is a joint initiative of a University of Groningen alumnus of Educational Science and an Accountancy student at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. Currently, more than 140,000 secondary school students use the innovative application, and are helped daily with their homework by 200 university-educated coaches. A formula for success.
Hugo: ‘Young people today are accustomed to using apps and platforms to meet each other, exchange information and to learn. By staying close to the world that young people are familiar with, learning becomes more motivating and ensures better results. And for Mr. Chadd, the educational service is a successful revenue model. A win-win situation. ‘