In this article, UIIN – Lehigh University Iacocca Scholars Nia Nesfield and Madison Horn share with the UIIN readers their impressions of their visit to Leiden BioScience Park (LBSP), and discuss the highlights of their meeting with LBSP representatives Thijs de Kleer and Stefan Ellenbroek on the development of the park as a national and international innovation hub.
Located in South Holland, Leiden Bioscience Park (LBSP) is currently expanding to attract new entrepreneurs for greater innovation heading into the future. The LBSP is currently the base of three academic institutions and over 195 organizations. These companies range in size from start-ups to multi-national corporations. Currently, the LBSP campus provides a neighboring proximity for the researchers and entrepreneurs to collaborate on innovative projects. These projects are all biotechnology and life science based creating a unique atmosphere for the residents of the park to concentrate on one field of innovation.
With the LBSP’s continued expansion and success, the sole direction for the park is to nurture the ecosystem, and ensure networking among the residents and larger community. After speaking with representatives Thijs de Kleer and Stefan Ellenbroek; there is one key aim of the park, which is to have its residents come together and innovate. It is the motivation for collaboration and teamwork that brings the LBSP stakeholders together.
LBSP Networking Activities
The formation of a community inclined to collaborate is often difficult. The Entrepreneur’s Association of LBSP includes a diverse board of members representing all areas of the campus including academic, the municipal government, and industry members. Due to the continued cultivation of ideas from the board members, there are numerous networking opportunities throughout the campus.
The most popular social location of the campus is known as the Stall. Together with a rich history and meaning to the park along with a modern restaurant and bar concept, it is the heart of campus networking. Students, researchers, and entrepreneurs always have access to this favored space where casual conversations can lead to the world’s next innovation. In fact, the campus has numerous spaces that allow residents to come together for meals, coffee, and events. During the construction of the LBSP, these spaces were a high priority to promote networking, collaboration, and innovation.
Common Spaces are not the limit to networking opportunities, since there are also events including athletic competitions, barbeques, and most excitingly LBSP’s own TedTalks. TedTalks, which happen frequently in the LBSP are held to share and receive information in an open setting. Through this concept, park members can gain comprehension of other projects happening in the park and collaborate if there is opportunity. Concurrently, anyone can attend the talks and network with speakers following the presentations.
Bringing Together Students and Industry
In addition, students are acknowledged as important opportunities for future innovation. Consequently, there is encouragement for students to become involved with start-ups and other research. The integration of academics and industry occurs during the annual job fair, internships, and invitations for students to attend events and speakers at campus institutions like the BioPartner incubator. Often there is a goal to place students in start-ups to see not only the science and technology aspects but the business aspects as well.
Not only do students venture into the industrial world for opportunities, a number of Leiden University and other academic institutions contain part-time professors who also work for companies in the LBSP. This not only leads to true integration of industry in academics offering business opportunities to students, but also to fresh minds to developed companies and growing start-ups.
For the Future
On a large scale, the ultimate goal will be to develop one integrated incubation program for entrepreneurship with multiple flavors and disciplines to add new views and concepts. This program does not yet exist, though all separate aspects are present. The integrated programme is currently being created but it is an aspiration for the future. While it is significant for the LBSP to continue its networking goal as the population of the park increases, the park has already shown great progress in its objective of building up a vibrant community in its campus. The same approach can be translated to science parks and innovation districts anywhere in the world.
Image credit: Leiden BioScience Park