If you, as a business or organisation on Wageningen Campus, have a concrete idea for a project and would like to collaborate with Wageningen University & Research (WUR), you can contact researchers or business developers, but also the Wageningen Grant Office. This is a division of WUR where the officers have a lot of knowledge and experience with funding at the regional, national, and European level. Wageningen Grant Office manager Peter Jongebloed explains what the Wageningen Grant Office can offer.
Developing an innovative process, service, or product requires funding. Sometimes there are grant schemes that you can apply for, but not everyone has the knowledge or time to find out whether they are eligible under a grant scheme. And how will you find your way through different grants, especially if you do not have a lot of experience with them? There are several intermediary parties that can help you on your way, such as Oost NL and RVO, and there are several grant newsletters, including the one from WUR, but you can also contact Wageningen Grant Office.
Collaboration is a Must
Peter Jongebloed: “We primarily work for Wageningen researchers, but a collaboration with the business community and other stakeholders (NGOs, policy makers, citizens) is becoming a must for more and more grants. We can bring researchers into contact with companies in the campus ecosystem, and vice versa. Of course, there is no 100% guarantee for a grant or a project, but perhaps we can advise and mediate. Ultimately, it is up to the project leader to decide which partners they will team up with.”
Public-Private Partnership Projects
Jongebloed talks about the growing trend of forming consortiums of knowledge partners and businesses in the world of grants. “It is no longer just about developing knowledge, but the focus is increasingly on the application/implementation of that knowledge, at the international level (Europe and beyond) as well as at the national and regional levels. This means that it is increasingly important for knowledge partners to collaborate with businesses and other stakeholders. Conversely, it is also more interesting for businesses to participate in these types of Public-Private Partnership Projects (PPS). A collaboration can be useful for businesses and has added value for WUR.”
Jongebloed notes that campus partners are already collaborating. “We have no problem reaching out to each other for collaboration. But more progress can be made, especially for those parties that are less experienced with grant programmes. The Wageningen Grant Office can play a mediating role in this. We have a reasonably good overview of the WUR consortiums that are in development and can bring parties on campus into contact with them. You could call it a kind of matchmaking.”
Wageningen Grant Office is now mainly focused on the large European research and innovation programme Horizon Europe and has gained a lot of expertise from the many EU projects that WUR was and is involved in. They are often competitive programmes, and the chance of success is not always very high, yet WUR has already managed to bring in smaller businesses as partners in such EU programmes. Advisors from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) provide support for the business community and knowledge partners for several EU programmes to ensure that the Netherlands participates as well as it can. Jongebloed: “Perhaps businesses are working on innovations that are primarily interesting on a national level and that do not need international collaboration. In that case, the RVO may be helpful. If it relates to a regionally oriented project — Oost Nederland in our case — then you can contact Oost NL. OOST NL is the development agency for the eastern Netherlands and strives to strengthen the regional economy. The activities are primarily focused on entrepreneurs, but certainly on SMEs as well.
Considering Options Together
In short, it may be interesting for both the less-experienced and smaller businesses in the SME sector as well as experienced parties to use the services of RVO, Oost NL, and the Wageningen Grant Office. Jongebloed: “However, I must note that Wageningen Grant Office is not a grant advisor. It means that we cannot guarantee that a business that contacts us will end up in a consortium. But we can consider the options together, and perhaps we can mediate in that.”