At the Park (c) Kadans Science Partner

The days when knowledge centers were mainly showing off their science from ivory towers for their own benefit are long gone. Science parks, campuses, universities and colleges nowadays share their knowledge with the business community, working together on innovations and thus strengthening each other. Kadans Science Partner, an investor and project developer in the field of knowledge-intensive real estate, plays a stimulating role in this.

The company builds and rents ‘multi-tenant’ buildings in the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom including offices, laboratories and meeting facilities. According to the company, it is by far the largest provider of knowledge-intensive real estate in Europe and is active at various locations in the Netherlands. Kadans Science Partner is developing new laboratories at the Amsterdam University Medical Center right next to the hospital. It is also building new innovation hubs at science parks in Leiden and Utrecht.

Residential real estate

But there is more. Tenants are also being offered extra services, such as networking meetings, conferences and contact opportunities for young talent. One of Kadans’ current projects, ‘At the Park’ on the Plaspoelpolder industrial estate in Rijswijk, will soon even offer living space to students and to young people starting out. This is also new for Kadans Science Partner.

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    “We like to look for parties that can strengthen each other,” explains real estate manager Sjoerd Harsveldt. “We want to offer more than just real estate. For example, we recently had a customer who makes a component for a spray bottle that is widely used in laboratories. He wanted to rent space in a place where there are a lot of labs, but not so he could sell his products to those labs. He wanted to have direct contact with people in the field who use such products to learn from them. We provide such opportunities.”

    Kadan’s Science Partner therefore also chooses companies and knowledge institutes for their innovation hubs with great care. The At the Park location, for example, is primarily intended to develop into a center of renewable energy. This has to do with its past history. Formerly called “Kessler Park,” it was the place where Shell did research in the field of petroleum. There is even a drilling rig on the site with a well of sixty centimeters in diameter and a depth of 400 to 500 meters.

    Geothermal research

    This is why TNO, an international research organization, found At the Park to be the perfect location for its geothermal research. “After all, Rijswijk is truly a geothermal hotspot in the Netherlands,” says Harsveldt. “We hope that the presence of TNO will attract other parties who are also concerned with energy. And now that the new vision of the municipality of Rijswijk also allows residential development at the site, we want At the Park to grow into a real hotspot for young companies in the field of renewable energy.”

    “We are already looking for start-ups, scale-ups and larger parties involved in areas such as wind energy, for example. The establishment of a department of a university or a college at the At the Park location would complete the picture. Mining, for instance, would be a nice addition.

    At the Park is primarily intended to develop into a center of renewable energy. This has to do with its past history. The former Kessler Park was the place where Shell did research in the field of petroleum. There is even a drilling rig on the site with a well that is sixty centimeters in diameter and has a depth of 400 to 500 meters.

    The company has the wind in its sails. The knowledge industry is increasingly displacing the manufacturing industry. Start-ups and scale-ups from universities and university medical centers are all looking for laboratory space.

    Kadans Science Partner believes it is very important to give tenants access to an innovation ecosystem. The idea is that by offering extra services on top of the accommodation, tenants are thus completely unburdened.

    European network

    “We offer these ecosystem services through our extensive European network for two reasons,” continues Tom Straeter, Senior Ecosystem Manager. “In this way, we contribute to the success of our tenants, the campus and the surrounding community. This is accomplished by facilitating the success factors of those knowledge-intensive organizations and campuses as much as possible. We break these down into three categories: access to the market, access to talent and access to facilities.”

    Their philosophy is that it is not only tenants who should use the additional services. Various facilities are also open to anyone on campus or in the science park. “We regularly organize networking meetings for our tenants and also invite the other tenants on campus or the Park. This benefits both our tenants and the rest of the campus.”

    According to Straeter, Kadans Science Partner is unique in this approach. “On many campuses, universities encourage the monetization of knowledge and entrepreneurship and offer housing in the process, but the emphasis is mainly on the monetization aspect and not so much on housing. We turn that around. With us, housing is the starting point. We add all kinds of facilities and services. There may be similar local initiatives on a few campuses, but they are on a much smaller scale than ours. We are the first and only ones to do this on a European scale. This is because we not only put a tenant of At the Park in Rijswijk in touch with other organizations on the same campus but also provide access to our meeting facilities in Amsterdam or a research laboratory in Glasgow, for example.”

    (c) Kadans Science Partner

    Lab facilities

    One of the ecosystem services Kadans Science Partner offers is access to shared lab facilities through a partnership with Clustermarket. This platform of a British start-up offers the possibility to exchange all kinds of lab facilities and instruments. For example, if a start-up has a need for a certain expensive instrument and cannot yet pay for it itself, it can be made available by another organization through Clustermarket.

    “This is very useful for start-ups that still don’t have much fat on their bones. Using this platform, they can see where such a tool is on offer and sign up for it for one-time use or for a longer period at that location. Conversely, this is interesting for organizations because they can rent out equipment that they use infrequently. This way they also have an easy way to get in contact with other organizations and access new knowledge,” says Straeter.

    The corona crisis has so far had little impact on Kadans Science Partner’s activities. “This is also due to our type of real estate,” Harsveldt states. “In our buildings, hygiene standards are usually already high. Also, laboratories are much more spacious than offices. You can easily adhere to the one-and-a-half meter rule here. There are ‘clean rooms’. Because of corona we have even gained tenants, such as Eurofins, who were looking for space for its testing facilities and have now been accommodated at At the Park.”

    Also interesting: From a business park in Noordwijk to an international hotspot for space: NL Space Campus

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Arnoud Cornelissen has for many years been writing about science and technology in, among others, various Dutch newspapers.