The Dutch city of Apeldoorn will be the scene for a new Advanced Expertise Institute for high-tech companies active on the interface of media and ICT. The driving force behind this new knowledge centre, to be known as ‘Centre of Excellence for New Media Technology’ (CoE), is tech company Divitel.
What is special about the new centre is that the initiative does not come from governmental or educational circles, as is commonly the case with such programs, but from private enterprise. The main driving force behind the new centre is Divitel, supported by VNO-NCW, the foremost Dutch employers’ organization.
“Goal of the initiative is to accelerate the development of advanced expertise by sharing existing knowledge,” says Hans Kornmann, CEO and founder of Divitel. “The lesson to be learned from Silicon Valley, a permanent source of marketable state of the art technology since the 1950’s, is that openly sharing knowledge stimulates the development of new insights and breakthrough ideas. Divitel possesses a wealth of expertise in media technology, which we intend to share for that same purpose, believing, as we do, that sharing knowledge is its own reward. Sharing knowledge means innovation and innovation leads to economical growth.”
The Centre of Excellence for New Media Technology will be located at Divitel’s head office in Apeldoorn and closely linked to Silicon Valley. The concept assumes broad co-operation, not only with the world of teaching and education, but with well-established international businesses as well. And there is definitely interest to join in the initiative from American companies looking at the European market as a new growth opportunity. Companies that are attracted by Divitel’s proven world-wide track record as an independent system integrator and solution supplier for digital broadcasting and the media industry.
The need for expertise and innovation in the new media and ICT environment
Continuing breakthroughs in the fields of new media and ICT provide countless opportunities for the creation of new products and services – a state of affairs the Dutch economy cannot afford to ignore. As a result, the Centre of Excellence for New Media Technology has been set up as a platform for scouting ICT talent, exploring new standards and developments and generating new business potential in co-operation with commercial organizations. The Centre of Excellence for New Media Technology focuses on models in which students, teachers and businesses share common facilities, work together in developing new knowledge and are empowered to translate ideas into entrepreneurial initiatives. With a view to the short term future, the Centre’s efforts are of vital importance. Forecasts predict a deficiency of more than 6,000 ICT professionals in 2016.
Co-operation with the world of education
Apart from Divitel, VNO-NCW Midden is another important player in the program. Based on their experience and expertise, the employers’ organization has established connections with schools, civil authorities and businesses. “The market is always a step or two ahead of the educational system,” says Christian Lorist, who, as a VNO-NCW member, has been closely involved in the creation of the CoE. “The technology facilitating new media is rapidly changing. During the four years it takes to complete an education at the Centre, some Technology may become totally obsolete. The better we can make our educational programs fit the needs of actual business practice, the more we can strengthen the competitiveness of our high-tech sector.”
Chris de Vries, one of the trailblazers in the CoE for New Media Technology initiative, agrees: “This Centre of Excellence is radically different from other centres of expertise that support co-operation between businesses and educational organizations,” he states. “Most other centres are driven by the educational institutes involved. At our centre, market demand is key.”
Co-operation with authorities
Another part of the co-ordination spectrum is a direct link to the City Triangle* Strategic Board, which supports the project with a total sum of €400,000 during the first three years, underlining its dedication to better living, working and leisure conditions for the long term future of the region. The Board is a firm believer in close connections between educational programs and market demand as a solution for the shortage of qualified professionals in the regional health care, production and technology industries. The latter sector now specifically profits from the Board’s chosen direction which has resulted in its decision to financially support the new Centre of Excellence for New Media Technology, a local initiative with international appeal. Hans Kornmann couldn’t be more pleased: “This support by the Strategic Board is a great recognition of Divitel’s initiative. It will allow us to make instant progress.” Divitel and its partners will also be investing significant sums of money in the CoE project, which however, as Kornmann emphasizes, will not be a part of Divitel as a company, but will operate, although physically located at Divitel’s Apeldoorn headquarters, as an independent foundation.