UTwente's Science Shop helps local businesses tap into UT's expertise
The University of Twente has come up with an exciting way to connect local businesses and organisations in need of scientific knowledge and expertise with student researchers in need of exciting real world problems to study via its Science Shop (Wetenschapswinkel in Dutch).
Research into specific problems is often too expensive for organisations to carry out on their own. The University of Twente's Science Shop tries to fill this gap, by accepting research requests from external customers, and ideally reformulating these requests into projects for student researchers.
Once a suitable student is found who is willing to undertake a given project, they are matched with a tutor to support them. The student can then carry out the research as part of their graduation or course, earning credits for their study and gaining practical experience in the process.
Egbert van Hattem, coordinator of the Science Shop, says that he and his colleagues receive about 100 knowledge requests per year covering a broad range of topics. These requests are then either passed on to student researchers, or the customer may be referred to a professor or other expert who has the required knowledge.
According to van Hattem, "70 per cent of the applications can be handled with a knowledge referral, research project or our own expert advice. If we cannot help the customer ourselves, we are often able to link them up with other external knowledge providers."
The prices of the Science Shop's services are very reasonable and tailored to the individual customer. Customers must always cover expenses associated with carrying out the research, such as purchasing supplies, but other fees (e.g. the salary for the student researcher, if any) depend on the customer’s financial means and the scale of the assignment.
In any case, an intake meeting with the Science Shop is always provided free of charge. After all, as van Hattem puts it, "We are a service from the university to the region. Our task is to enable customers to take advantage of the UT’s knowledge."
For more information about ongoing and completed research projects and the Science Shop visit their website.