This is Part 7 of the series Campuses in North Brabant. In the next weeks, we will publish the profiles of all 8 innovation campuses that were mentioned in the recent study by Buck Consultants International (BCI). Every Tuesday we highlight one of them. Today we focus on Grow Campus ’s-Hertogenbosch. Here are all the articles that have already been published.

Grow Campus ’s-Hertogenbosch is one of the twelve “real” campuses in startup phase in the Netherlands. Its ever-growing network of professional education, applied research, and entrepreneurs makes it a hotspot of innovation which bridges the gap between the high-tech and the agri-food industries.

“We grow together” 

Grow Campus ’s-Hertogenbosch offers companies, startups, and scale-ups the opportunities to strengthen their position in agri-food. Based in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the community of the Campus extends far beyond that. “The Campus is not only a physical location here in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. It has a larger network function. This means that also companies outside the city are connected to the Grow Campus. We serve the region and not only the city,” Jan Pieter van der Lugt, Campus Manager, explains. 

With a community of approximately 30,000 students, 3,000 professionals, and 30 companies the Campus has set to keep fostering innovation in agri-food in the upcoming years: “We are in our third year and we are making plans to focus more on bringing parties in joint collaborative programs based on the expertise available at the knowledge institutes. For example, we are working on urban farming. With the expertise of different educational institutions, we create a technology platform for collaborative work on how to produce enclosed systems.” 

Van der Lugt highlights the elements that make the Campus attractive to new businesses: “The Campus is close by. It is in the heart of applied scientific research. We do not focus on hardcore scientific research, like for example at Wageningen University & Research. We focus on the application phase where the first step is in the hands-on market and business development of the companies.” 

Collaboration towards agri-food innovation 

Collaboration is another essential element of the Campus community. “We have diverse network events focused on bringing different parties together. In this way, companies learn a lot from different industries and set up new contacts and networks.” 

In addition to that, the Campus offers the AgriFood scale-up program where companies’ growth and business development are facilitated by experienced mentors. ”We are active in the support of companies with a focus on agri-food and especially those small companies that cannot set up their marketing and business development. We support them in the innovation demands and help them find partners. We help them develop their company to the next stage.” 

Moreover, collaboration with the student community is one of the most characteristic features of the Campus. Van der Lugt explains: “We encourage students to carry out collaborative projects with the industry. The main focus is on the multidisciplinary character of those projects. We have events where different students from various fields collaborate together in one team. For example, we have projects where HAS University of Applied Sciences helps companies in developing prototypes.”

Young talent

The Campus foundation is “We grow together”. One of its aims is to connect companies with talented and ambitious students. In this way, students have the opportunity to work on the latest developments in the field together with companies while companies get in touch with young talent.

The core of the Campus is based in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, on Onderwijsboulevard (Education Boulevard), closely situated near different applied universities and high vocational training institutes, such as HAS University of Applied Sciences; Jheronimus Academy of Data Science; Koning Willem College, and Avans Hogeschool.” 

Hence, it comes as no surprise that the Campus has a strong focus on building a multidisciplinary student community where students contribute to challenging business issues. “We try to bring together students with different expertise with different industries – agri-food, ICT, robotics, sensor industry, etc. This multidisciplinarity is the most important part for us.” 

Van der Lugt concludes: “The Campus is important for the region because it adds value to the application side of research. We also focus on the student network so we are not only attractive to companies but also to students. We help Brainport region close the gap between the high-tech industry and the agri-food industry.”