Since 2010, a number organisations and companies in and around Wageningen Campus have shared the high-quality research facilities of Wageningen University & Research (WUR). This was made possible thanks to a CAT AgroFood grant from the Province of Gelderland and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, and a WUR contribution. The project was a resounding success and is now being developed further as Shared Research Facilities (SRF).
Unilever Research & Development is in the process of relocating to Wageningen Campus and has announced its intention to join the project. On 22 June, Unilever and WUR have signed an agreement regarding the placement of Unilever electron microscopes at Wageningen University, for use by other parties via SRF.
Shared Research Facilities strengthens the power of the research environment in and around Wageningen Campus. The research equipment involved is usually expensive and complex, including the above-mentioned electron microscopes and other imaging techniques, but also advanced mass spectrometers, and the latest sequencing techniques. This kind of equipment is expensive – in some cases too expensive – for individual parties to purchase.
Another costly investment is developing the expertise required to use the equipment correctly. Sharing facilities makes it possible to lower the costs per user, but also to maintain a state-of-the-art research equipment portfolio and develop sufficient expertise. It is remarkable that companies, Unilever in this case, are also willing to make their equipment widely accessible as a shared facility. WUR’s Shared Research Facilities has a broad group of external users and collaborates with various parties such as the Gelderland Valley Hospital, the KeyGene breeding research centre, and FrieslandCampina, located on Campus.
Shared Research Facilities further strengthens FoodValley’s knowledge-intensive ecosystem, to the benefit of all Dutch food businesses, and in the hope of delivering even higher production and product quality. Such innovations and improvements benefit consumers across the globe. They also further stimulate the quality of WUR research and help strengthen our leading international position. The Netherlands’ leading position in the agro food sector is largely due to this unique kind of collaboration, known as triple helix, between companies, research institutions, and the government.