Maastricht University (UM) President Martin Paul and Vice President Nick Bos immediately set an ambitious tone during the launch of the Excellence Programme Brightlands at Marres, House for Contemporary Culture in Maastricht, on Thursday, 15 September. The importance that the provincial authorities also attach to this pilot programme, in which a ‘top class’ of management members from public administration, the business community, knowledge and other institutions is selected with the aim of strengthening their knowledge level, network and understanding of the Triple Helix approach, was also underlined by Twan Beurskens, Member of the Provincial Executive responsible for Economy and Knowledge Infrastructure.
The Excellence Programme Brightlands—which got off to a substantive start on Friday, 16 September with the module ‘The Art of Working Together’—has UM, the Province of Limburg and LED as its ‘founding fathers’. The programme is the brainchild of General Director Guido Derks of IBA Parkstad and of Wil Rutten, who together with Ingrid Voncken of the UM School of Business and Economics (SBE) lead this programme.
The programme comprises seven modules that cover subject areas relevant to the desired collaboration and strengthening of education, government and business. Besides in-depth theoretical knowledge, a key theme is the development of human capital. All this is presented in an interactive programme that addresses the interplay between various academic, socio-cultural and business management disciplines.
During the informal opening meeting, President Martin Paul eloquently stressed the importance of a good anchoring for the university in a border-free Euregion. According to the Paul, the current Brightlands development is an excellent opportunity to form a community comprising a partnership of equals. This will make Brightlands as a whole stronger than the sum of its separate parts. Vice President Nick Bos compared this to a constantly innovating ecosystem, and thus revealed his own high expectations for the Excellence Programme Brightlands. According to Nick Bos, this pilot scheme might be the first step towards a new Brightlands Innovation Academy.
Deputy Twan Beurskens also expressed his optimism about Brightlands in general as well as the special role that the Excellence Programme Brightlands can play here. According to the Provincial Executive member, Brightlands represents three key ideas that will also be featured in the pilot programme: seeking cohesion, creating collaboration and setting up a specific system. Twan Beurskens believes these aspects are crucial within the broader context of Brightlands.
The evening featured an atmospheric musical framework, provided by the Limburg-based soprano Janine Kitzen who has built up a successful international career as a singer. Also attending were Prof. Dr. Mariëlle Heijltjes (Professor of Managerial Behaviour) and Prof. Dr. Jan Cobbenhagen (Professor of Knowledge Transfer and Director of Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus), both of whom are responsible for the substantive and theoretical components of the curriculum. The programme will not only contain in-depth theoretical studies but also expression, performance and culture. And so leading figures such as hockey player Maartje Paumen, journalist Marcia Luyten, Jack Poels, the frontman of regional pop band Rowwen Hèze, and the actor and artistic director Servé Hermans are also involved in the Excellence Programme Brightlands.
The Excellence Programme Brightlands aims for excellence in the broadest sense of the term. During the closing phase of the programme, which will conclude in February 2017, constant work and thought will be devoted to relevant projects within Brightlands that focus on the applicability of the acquired knowledge. Or in the words of Mariëlle Heijltjes: “In the end it’s all about whether you have the courage to take action.” The tone has been set; the Excellence Programme Brightlands is off to a good start.