In the summer of 2021, Bert Krikke started as managing director of Novio Tech Campus. During his first months, Bert noticed many positive developments but also saw room for improvement. That is why he wants to push the campus forward in 2022. “We are starting our masterplan development. By the end of the year, the expansion of the campus will be in full swing”.
Bert aims to build upon what is already working well. “We are currently housing 75 companies on campus with 3.500 employees that can have a real impact in their industry but also in our daily lives. Innovations in high tech and health are developed on the campus and finding their way to society. In the upcoming years we are going to increase these numbers. 2022 is a key moment in this development, as this will be the year where we lay the foundations of our future campus.”
Innovating Nijmegen together
Bert points out that encouraging cooperation is the first objective for 2022. “It is necessary to cooperate even more on campus. For example, there are opportunities in the field of radiofrequency. For companies in this sector, we would like to create a knowledge hub on campus this year.” There is much to gain in broader partnerships as well. “We will be more than a location in Nijmegen. To connect as a campus to the whole innovative environment of Nijmegen, we need strong ties with Radboud University, Radboud UMC, the HAN and MBO studies. Only together we can realize our shared goal of becoming “Campus Nijmegen”, an international hotspot for innovators in Health and High Tech.
As it stands, the education programmes in Nijmegen do not yet fully fit the skills that are asked for jobs on campus. “Therefore, we will explore possible improvements in collaboration with all strands of education. Think about students with startups: we can help them becoming scaleups by offering a perfect ecosystem on our campus.”
Room for sustainable growth
Space is much needed to accommodate growth for new and existing companies. Expansion might just be the biggest goal for the campus in 2022. “We want to add 80,000 to 100,000 square meters of housing opportunity to our campus. In terms of surface, that means we effectively want to more than double in size.” Right now, NTC is elaborating the plans in a joint effort with architectural firm MVRDV.
Bert emphasizes that the development of the campus has a vital core theme. “Sustainability. If you look at the current campus, there is massive potential in terms of a healthy working environment, biodiversity and greening. We cope with heat stress during summer, which we will address. We want to improve biodiversity on campus and connect with Goffertpark, and we will construct future buildings in compliance with the sustainable quality mark BREEAM. We are looking at circular buildings with natural materials, green rooftops and facades, and energy-neutral of course.”
As communicated in December, the city of Nijmegen plays an important role in the realization of these plans. “The campus should not become an island within the city. City hall has started the further development of Winkelsteeg, and we are a part of that. These two projects need to be aligned, planned, and carried out.”
From TEDx to a gym on-site
One of the other objectives is to create a stronger community on campus. “We will continue to work on this. For example, with the support of the OostNL-Perspectieffonds, we will build a central reception building, so the campus is more recognisable. With restaurants and meeting rooms, a building like that can increase the feeling of community.” There is already cooperation on campus, but it should be one of our USP’s. “Cooperation between companies should be a reason for new companies to settle here. We will focus on structural community building and management in the coming years.”
Part of community management is supporting employees of the companies at the campus. “As well as companies, we have to facilitate the needs of all of their employees.” NTC Sports, that will be launched the coming months, is an example of this objective. Employees working on campus are getting discounts on sports memberships and a tailor-made workout program. “We are working together with Sports Palace, which is located right across campus. This makes exercising during the workday easier for the people who are working here, boosting their health both physically and mentally.”
In addition, according to Bert, the campus should offer room to meet and connect, for business and recreation. “Ranging from TEDx conferences, where people pick up new ideas and perspectives, to a Campus Newsroom to create media attention and visibility for the inspiring stories of our innovators themselves. We want to offer our community everything they need to grow, both professionally and personally.”
Number #1 in Health & High Tech
Plenty of plans to fill an entire year, but it doesn’t stop there for Bert. “Novio Tech is not yet part of the top 10 campuses in the Netherlands. We are going to change that. A large campus is not the goal; becoming more alluring and attractive is. If the campus is a pleasant place to work, growth will follow naturally.”
Bert envisions more than just national growth. “Our long-term ambition is to become a destination for companies from all over the world. Businesses from the USA and Asia that are considering a European location should end up at our campus.” To Bert, keeping focus is paramount to making this ambition a reality. “We do not want to compete with other campuses in our region like IPKW in Arnhem or Pivot Park in Oss, but rather work with them on joint ambitions. They have their areas of expertise, just like we do. Within Health and High Tech, the possibilities are limitless at the moment, and in 2022 we are turning ambitions into action. We do hope that everyone involved will join us in this: only together we can make it work!”