Smart Services Campus Heerlen: breeding ground for new productivity and innovations

Last Monday 12 September marked the launch of the Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen. Amid great interest, the Campus was officially opened by Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Mr. Henk Kamp, accompanied by H.R.H. Prince Constantijn, among others. At this event, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) announced the opening of the Center for Big Data Statistics on 27 September 2016. The Brightlands Smart Services Campus plays a prominent role in this Center.

Breeding ground for innovations

Peter Verkoulen looks back at the launch with a great sense of pride. As of 1 July 2015, he is CEO of the Campus in Heerlen and responsible for management and development of the new Campus, for example by further expanding the international partner network. The ambition is to establish a breeding ground for new activity, innovations and talent development in the area of smart services through interactions between education, research and entrepreneurship. Smart services are ingenious product and service innovations based on different data which are linked together with the use of ICT.

Lots of interaction

‘During the launch, we offered a sneak preview of the Brightlands Smart Services Campus: it was a varied programme with lots of interaction among visitors, for instance at the Innofair, in master classes and at the so-called Grand Opening. The latter formed the highlight of the day: the Forum was packed with an audience of 300 people and at least 300 more watching via livestream in parallel rooms’, says Verkoulen. He describes the audience as a very accurate reflection of the Campus’ ecosystem: ‘Students, scientists, starters and representatives of large companies and institutions. Even the management of those large organisations were very well represented.’

Strategic partners

Verkoulen is particularly pleased with the fact that the audience considered the events that day useful and interesting, judging from their initial responses. ‘They learned new facts about different subjects related to smart services and big data. In addition, they were able to renew and expand contacts. We were also happy to announce the participation of CBS, KPN and BNY Mellon in our Campus. CBS’ announcement on the opening of the Center for Big Data Statistics came at an excellent time, as the Brightlands Smart Services Campus is a key strategic partner of this Center. In short, it was a fantastic day.’

Full speed ahead

Now that the festive opening has passed, what matters is to translate current ideas for projects and other initiatives into concrete actions. ‘We have already started, but we must go full speed ahead. Good intentions must now be turned into results. Take for example the announced ‘Techruption’ initiative which is related to blockchain, artificial intelligence and climate change. Aside from this, we are planning to involve even more new and interesting parties in the Campus.’

Debt relief issues

Verkoulen warmly welcomes the collaboration with Statistics Netherlands: ‘CBS is of course the pre-eminent data centre in the Netherlands. One of its offices is here, around the corner. I consider collaboration with CBS as threefold: first of all, CBS can benefit from the knowledge and experience of the parties active at the Campus. For instance, CBS is participating in a lectorate on data visualisation. Second, there is the opening of CBS’ Center for Big Data Statistics, which will create huge impact for us both. Third, I hope CBS will get involved in many projects which use data to achieve beneficial results. In very concrete terms, we are considering a programme that should reduce debt relief issues in the Netherlands. CBS’ involvement in such programmes would be good for all parties concerned. It would also offer CBS the opportunity to give substance to its public mission in a different way.’

What is the Center for Big Data Statistics?

The launch of the Center for Big Data Statistics is to take place on 27 September 2016. CBS Director General Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi: ‘This Center will combine the strengths of national and international parties from the worlds of education, government and private sector in the field of Big Data. Together, we will be able to provide better, faster and more detailed responses to questions about and from society, at lower cost and with less administrative burden.’