Knowledge First: 12,5 years Neth-ER
The 12,5 year anniversary of Neth-ER provided a special opportunity to gather high-level Dutch and European stakeholders in the fields of education, research and innovation for the annual Neth-ER networking event. This year’s theme ‘Knowledge First’ was introduced through a keynote speech by Prof Dr Eveline Crone on how knowledge should prepare the new generation. The subsequent panel discussion addressed current political developments in EU knowledge policy and reflected on the role of Neth-ER in the broader European knowledge community. The event concluded with the informal farewell of former Director Fried Kramer, who has been involved with Neth-ER from the very beginning.
On the 19th of September, Neth-ER welcomed a great deal of representatives from the Dutch and European knowledge community to celebrate the 12,5 year anniversary of the association. This year’s theme was ‘Knowledge First’, which is also the motto of Neth-ER. In his opening speech, Sander van den Eijnden, President of Neth-ER, explained that Neth-ER has always strived to integrate education, research and innovation in a holistic approach to knowledge policy. That is why Neth-ER supports the decision by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the Commission, to combine the fields of education, research and innovation into one portfolio led by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. Neth-ER believes that integrating these policy areas into a single portfolio will make our policies better and hence Europe smarter.
‘The promise of a new generation’
Prof Dr Eveline Crone, professor in neuropsychology and member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council, gave a passionate account of the enormous opportunities of today’s youth to have global impact. However, she added that this potential must be facilitated with the right opportunities to flourish, especially in terms of education. Research and breakthrough innovation may also help to ‘find solutions to problems that do not yet exist’, so as to substantiate the promise for the new generation.
The subsequent panel discussion considered the latest developments at the European political level and reflected on the role of Neth-ER in the European knowledge community. Moderator Jurgen Rienks, Director of Neth-ER, presided over a panel of four high-level representatives from the field of education, research and innovation: Frans van Vught, founder and former President of Neth-ER; Robert-Jan Smits, President of the Executive Board of Eindhoven University of Technology and former Director-General of DG RTD; Nina de Winter, member of the European Students Union and former board member of Dutch student association ISO, and Marcelis Boereboom, Director-General of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Panellists agreed that ‘the only sustainable resource we have in the Netherlands is knowledge’, which is therefore supposed to receive continuous attention on the political agenda. The speakers noted that in order to maintain the strong position of the Netherlands in the research and innovation landscape, Neth-ER is set to play an increasingly important role, especially in light of the lukewarm ambitions of the Dutch government in this area. The new knowledge portfolio in the Commission was welcomed but met with some strong conditions. Combining education, research and innovation into one portfolio is promising, but ‘the major challenge lies in really integrating the multiple policy fields’. Nina de Winter added that the student unions are concerned that one field, i.e. research and innovation, may be prioritised at the expense of another, i.e. education.
Farewell Fried Kramer
At the end of the event, the spotlight was put on Fried Kramer, former Director and co-founder of Neth-ER, who left this year after having served the association for more than twelve years. He was praised for his excellent skills both professionally and personally. In his own speech, Fried reflected on his time at Neth-ER and thanked the many people he had worked with throughout his career, his friends and family.
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