During the annual international Wetsus congress, the results of the Wetsus scientific evaluation were presented. The objective of the 6-annual scientific audit was to evaluate, according to the evaluation protocol of Dutch universities, the quality, relevance and viability of Wetsus as a research institute. Following the evaluation by an international review committee, composed of four eminent engineers and scientists, Wetsus scored excellent on all topics, makings Wetsus one of the most influential water technology research groups in the world. As an extra, the value of the Wetsus network for knowledge transfer was added.
From the report: “Wetsus, as research unit, is seen by the review committee as one of the most influential and effective research groups in the world in its field.”
This result underlines the importance of smart regional specialisation. The province of Friesland first set course in specialisation in water technology at the end of the previous century. Water technology does not only service the water sector; it is also essential for all manufacturing and process industries, as well as for agriculture. Wetsus has been instrumental in maximizing the innovation potential by reaching out across boundaries and silos, and by combining the strengths of global companies and European knowledge institutes.
Currently 105 companies and 22 research institutes cooperate in Wetsus ground-breaking research programme. This open innovation ecosystem is truly cross-sectorial and cross disciplinary. In addition it has a global reach, with over 25% of the company participants originating from 16 countries and 3 continents.
The audit committee was composed of four eminent engineers and scientists from around the world: prof. Jean Fréchet (Saudi Arabia), prof. Menachem Elimelech (USA), prof. Jürg Keller (Australia) en prof. Alexander Zehnder (Singapore). They reviewed research quality, relevance to society, viability and the special network method of Wetsus.
Research quality: The review committee was impressed by the significant achievements of Wetsus. Its research, publications and impact are world-class. At the same time, Wetsus provides the private sector with extremely useful scientific insight and knowledge that allows it to compete internationally at the highest level.
Relevance to society: There is a wide range of global and regional water-related issues and challenges that Wetsus research makes strong contributions to. These issues are all pervasive and the Wetsus programme is making significant and growing impacts in these areas despite its relatively recent establishment. As a research unit, Wetsus makes an outstanding contribution to society.
Viability: The management of Wetsus is well organised. Strong leadership from the top-management has built a robust, effective and efficient organisation. Organisational checks and balances are in place to both generate good quality research as well as useful results for companies. The financial system for contributions by companies is simple and effective and provides a resilient structure to ensure stability of the financial contributions from participating companies. The research unit Wetsus is excellently equipped for the future.
Research quality, relevance to society and viability were unanimously judged by the committee to each clearly deserve the highest possible score: excellent.
In addition, the committee looked at how Wetsus organizes its network and how it connects its partners. The assessment committee is impressed by the way Wetsus organises the highly integrated and interactive network around them. Both academic and industry partners were very supportive of the network, with universities seeing Wetsus as a valuable extension of their interests, not as a competitor, while companies consider the Wetsus network as a cost-effective platform to engage with key experts and cooperate on strategic or applied research from the phase of invention into innovation and makes the connection between (university) research and industry like no other institute in water technology in the world.
The evaluation committee considers Wetsus to be unique, not only in Europe but worldwide. It represents a model research institute on how research and collaboration needs to be organized at the interface between academia, industry and society.