The aim of the plan is not only to maintain the innovative strength of the Eindhoven region; the ambition is to emerge from the crisis stronger than ever. The university wants to ensure that sufficient highly qualified people are available to meet companies’ demands once the economy recovers. “The university is making a gesture by addressing the problem in partnership with the business community. We are sticking our neck out. If these knowledge workers turn their backs on the technology sector, the effects of the crisis on the Netherlands will be doubled”, said Peter van Dam, spokesman for the TU/e Executive Board.
The plan will cost a hundred million euro and will extend up to the end of 2013. A quarter of the costs will be generated by TU/e itself, and another quarter is intended to be provided by the business community. But the biggest sponsor is national government, which is being asked to provide fifty million euro. “Government support is vitally important” says Van Dam. “Not only by a financial contribution, but also by helping to define the required legal arrangements, for example about how payments are to be used.”
The 25 million euro to be provided by the university will not reduce the funding of its other activities, Van Dam explains. The money will come from extra income generated by the university. For example the planned new PhD positions will be financed by extra grants for PhD candidates. The university is also considering the use of funding from the existing innovation programs.
The TU/e plan has been submitted to the government this week as part of a larger plan drawn up by the ‘Brainport Eindhoven’ region. This also includes a plan from the knowledge institute TNO (Netherlands organization for applied scientific research) to create a thousand jobs.
Under the plan, the university aims to retain or accelerate the work of innovation programs and research institutes based on partnerships between government, knowledge institutes and companies. Research staff of companies who lose their jobs will be able to take temporary posts at the university to work on R&D projects. The university also wants staff who are threatened with job losses to be temporarily detached to the university as ‘Industrial Fellows’. Furthermore TU/e wants recently graduated engineers and PhD candidates to be given positions as postdocs or PhDs (action line three) or as trainee technological designers (action line four).
In addition, the university intends to take ‘anticyclical’ action by making upcoming students aware that studying technology is a good choice, particularly at this time. Reports about job losses in industry could make young people reluctant to choose a technology education. “Otherwise we’ll be faced with a serious shortage of engineers in five years from now.”
Another measure that TU/e wants to implement to contribute to the economy at a time of crisis is bringing forward its ‘Campus 2020’ accommodation master plan. This could provide a useful boost to the building world.