In order to strengthen Zeeland as a knowledge region in the field of water, food, and energy, the Dutch national government is investing 68 million euros in the establishment of the Delta Knowledge Center at the Vlissingen Kenniswerf. Zeeland’s educational and knowledge institutions Scalda, HZ University of Applied Sciences, and University College Roosevelt are collaborating with Utrecht University and Wageningen University & Research, among others. The money comes from the national government’s compensation package for the lost marine barracks in Vlissingen; the aim is to strengthen Zeeland’s economy and quality of life. The plans will be worked out in more detail in the coming months.
All activities in the Knowledge Center revolve around the social task of climate adaptation through natural solutions. The aim is to realize innovative solutions for a future-proof, safe, and prosperous Delta. The expectation is that these solutions will not only be of interest to the Dutch delta but can also be applied beyond its own national borders.
The knowledge center is characterized by:
- Research and education in the fields of water, food, and energy.
- The awareness that different areas of knowledge (alpha, gamma, beta) must be combined: biological, technical, chemical, ecological, socio-economic, legal, cultural, and political-administrative.
- The integration of different types of research (from fundamental to skills-based) and translating them into demand and problem-based education (all educational levels).
Perspectives for young people
The Knowledge Center must also raise Zeeland’s visibility as a knowledge region in the field of water, food, and energy. “Zeeland offers career prospects for young people inside and outside the region. For example, the establishment of the institute will increase the influx of national and international students into existing or new courses.” With the arrival of the institute, it is expected that 200 extra students will enter each year.
The Delta Knowledge Center will also generate new jobs at the center itself as well as at the various research and educational institutions and the companies that are active within the collaboration. It is estimated that the additional employment will grow to approximately 140 FTEs by 2032.
The head office, research lab facilities, development, test and demo facilities, and business development will be located at the Kenniswerf (‘Knowledge Yard’) in Vlissingen, where the Technum and Dockwize skills labs are also located. Activities will also be spread throughout Zeeland, such as at the NIOZ in Yerseke, the Joint Research Centre Zeeland in Middelburg, and the Rusthoeve experimental farm in Colijnsplaat.
The total contribution to the Delta Knowledge Center from the compensation funds amounts to more than €68 million. That is almost half of the total funds needed for the center in the start-up period. The other half will be financed by the participating educational and knowledge institutions, the province of Zeeland and businesses, and NGOs. After a start-up phase of 3 to 6 months, the institute can be operational from 2021.