To begin with, they lie close to each other, situated in an innovative region, of which they themselves are iconic exponents. And in an international region: the campuses are close to cities like Louvain, Liège, and Aachen, where renowned knowledge institutes are located.
What also binds the campuses is that their focus areas, no matter how different, have a common denominator: the researchers are concentrating on the 'molecular sciences' – the search for the smallest particles and their many applications. The knowledge generated here contributes substantially to new solutions for social issues, particularly in the field of materials, health, and food (I refer to my September 30, 2013 blog post “I don’t see any problems, only challenges”).
The development of both campuses is made possible by the support of powerful parties, especially the Province of Limburg and the so-called Kennis-As partners.
"Kennis-As Limburg" is the program of the knowledge institutions in Limburg: Maastricht University, the Maastricht University Medical Centre + (academic hospital and Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences), and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. Supported by the Province of Limburg, they will invest 600 million Euros in strengthening the knowledge infrastructure of the province. This should lead to a flourishing economy and a vital population.
The Kennis-As partners use the Brightlands brand when they communicate about R&D.
Since a substantial part of the Kennis-As investments will take place at the Brightlands campuses, these campuses play an important role in the economic development of the region.
The Brightlands tagline reads: “Knowledge Crossing Borders”. The campuses are pushing to attract knowledge from around the world. Or rather talented, ambitious, and charismatic researchers and entrepreneurs, who are able to cross boundaries. They are in a unique position to combine knowledge from different countries, diverse fields of research, and various organizations into innovations.
They are the ones who see opportunities to capitalize on knowledge and – very important – to create new jobs.
The Brightlands talents
The "Brightlands" story will now start to unfold. In fact, this already started with the concrete stories of five talented researchers and entrepreneurs: Tinashe Ndoro, Annemie Schols, Maikel Beerens, Mark Post, and Victor Vreeken. Their stories perfectly illustrate what Brightlands is all about.
Researcher Tinashe Ndoro was born in Zimbabwe and left when he was 18 years with a plane ticket (a gift from his parents) for Europe to study. Now he is a rising star in the materials research in Brightlands. He now makes his dream come true: to work together with top talents on products that make the world a better place.
Professor Annemie Schols is engaged in concepts to eat healthier. This is necessary. Because on the one hand, children run an increasing risk of diseases associated with obesity. On the other hand, we see more and more diseases associated with decreasing muscle mass and loss of function. To reverse this trend, we need to adopt a healthier lifestyle, especially by adapting our eating habits and by taking sufficient exercise. In this field of research Annemie leads a group of young researchers from around the world, who’re now all working in Brightlands.
Who ever gets a hole in his skull, must (by the treating physician) certainly appeal to entrepreneur Maikel Beerens. He is able to repair the damage by means of a perfectly fitting 3D-printed skull implant. In 3D printing (or "additive manufacturing") Brightlands takes a prominent place. There is the Additive Manufacturing Materials Center, which deals with the improvement of polymers for this application. Meanwhile, Maikel has aquired 25 hospitals as customers. His contacts with other young entrepreneurs and the easy access to Maastricht University were very helpful.
Professor Mark Post became well-known internationally by the ‘cultured hamburger’ (the frankenburger). There was no need for a cow, since the hamburger was grown in a laboratory in Brightlands. Rapid knowledge sharing, collaboration between many disciplines, and short lines of communication made this possible. The cultured hamburger is not a goal in itself, but is a step towards solving various social problems: greenhouse gases, antibiotic resistance, increasing meat consumption, deforestation, and water shortages. Further research is focused on improving the taste of the cultured hamburger.
Entrepreneur Victor Vreeken played an important role in the development of the so-called PEF bottle, the first bio-based bottle in the world, made of sugars. The material is strong enough to store beverages over a long time and therefore it makes an excellent replacement for the familiar PET. At Brightlands there is a PEF pilot plant to serve customers like Coca-Cola and Danone. Precisely there, because the required knowledge, the technical infrastructure, and the international network are all present.
Visit www.brightlands.com for more information about Brightlands. Under ‘Meet bright people’ you'll find the full stories of Tinashe, Annemie, Maikel, Mark, and Victor.
And watch the video for more backgrounds of Brightlands: http://youtu.be/vaCJayXbADQ?list=UUA0C7VBpoFWwwzRF0h34l-w.
More stories around Brightlands can be found on www.thepowerofimpossibility.com.
This blog post is a repost of my (Dutch) September 22, 2014 post.
Read my May 20, 2013 blog post about the reason why of my English reposts.