New university course and campus strengthen Drachten's position as an innovation hub

In the media | February 8, 2024

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Drachten, a city with a rich high-tech history, reaches a new milestone with the establishment of Campus Drachten. The initiators of this project, consisting of Innovatiecluster Drachten, Philips Drachten, University of Groningen, NHL Stenden, Firda, Nij Smellinghe hospital and the municipality of Smallingerland, are pleased to announce their collaboration for the development of the Campus Drachten. Campus Drachten fits in with the vision of 'University of the North', which focuses on the further development of strong education and research concepts in close collaboration with the business community in the region on the important themes for the Northern Netherlands. 

Healthcare and High-tech

The Drachten Campus will focus on healthcare technology and high-tech innovation, where collaboration between partners is essential. This joint effort contributes to social challenges in the Northern Netherlands. On the one hand, by reducing the demand for care through innovation and efficiency in the healthcare sector. This means that more can be achieved with fewer resources. On the other hand, by connecting science and industry to strengthen the northern economic structure. This contributes to economic growth and development in the region. The Campus Drachten builds on existing initiatives in Drachten and the surrounding area, aimed at bringing together forces for impactful change. Such as the Konnect project, which focuses on innovation in nursing by integrating Extended Reality technologies, such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, for more efficient training and practical applications, with the aim of reducing the workload in the healthcare sector. Mayor Rijpstra: “The establishment of Campus Drachten marks an important moment for the municipality of Smallingerland. It shows our commitment to innovation and education, this is a step forward in strengthening our local economy and community.”

Engineering Doctorate

An important part of the campus is also the Engineering Doctorate (EngD) Autonomous Systems program, which will start in Drachten in September 2024. Chairman of the Executive Board of the University of Groningen Jouke de Vries: “With the launch of the Engineering Doctorate program on Campus Drachten, we are bringing academic excellence to the region. This initiative not only strengthens the ties between science and industry, but also puts the Northern Netherlands on the map as a center of technological innovation and research.” 

This is an important milestone for Drachten because it is the first university course in the city. It connects science and industry with issues in the field of autonomous (factory) systems. An EngD program is an internationally recognized 2-year post-master's degree that combines the traditional academic approach with direct involvement in industry. The program emphasizes practical application, interdisciplinary collaboration and professional development. The Just Transition Fund has made a subsidy of two million euros available for the start of the EngD Autonomous Systems program. Drachten thus strengthens its role in technological and educational development.

From devising to applying

Through the combination of education, research and practical application, Campus Drachten strives to create an environment that stimulates both local and regional economic growth. We think of it, we make it and we apply it in practice. With the Campus, the partners have the ambition to create a center for knowledge sharing, innovation and development.

Binne Visser, chairman of Innovatiecluster Drachten: “At Campus Drachten we are committed to innovation and education, with which we strengthen the region and contribute to the development of the next generation of technological leaders.”

The Drachten Campus is more than a physical location; it is a vision of the future of technological innovation and education. This announcement marks the start of a phase of development and collaboration, with the aim of positioning Drachten and the region as a forerunner in the field of healthcare technology and high-tech industry.

Photo credits: Jilmer Postma – Innovation and technology: that is what the new university program in Drachten and the campus to be established are all about.