Name / Title

“Brug Toekomst”

Case Study Region

Westerkwartier (NL)

Geographical coverage

Westerkwartier, part of the province of Groningen


Project; partnership

Main activity / focus


Answer regional research questions through establishing link between education and regional development initiatives.


Target beneficiaries / market


Publically funded “green” knowledge institutes (Wageningen University and Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science), the national forest management agency (Staatsbosbeheer), nature and landscape management organisations (agriculture oriented cooperatives) and other grassroots development initiatives from the Westerkwartier

Year established

2003 (ended in 2008).


Current Funding source(s)

Started with funds of Wageningen University and Research Centre and at the end of the project, in 2007 and 2008, funds from the Green Knowledge Cooperation (GKC), a program for developing and spreading ‘green’ knowledge in Dutch green schools and universities (Dutch: Groene Kennis Coöperatie).


Publically funded “green” knowledge institutes (Wageningen University, Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science), Advise-office SOL, the national forest management agency (SBB), nature and landscape management organisations (agriculture oriented cooperatives) and other grassroots development initiatives from the Westerkwartier 






The project Brug Toekomst (2003-2008) aimed to test the cooperation of Wageningen University and two departments of the Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science in a practical research setting. Its creation was initiated by the management board of Wageningen University in order to support the collaboration between the merging education institutes Van Hall, Larenstein, Wageningen University and the DLO (agriculture research institutes) and to stimulate knowledge transfer from institutes towards practise. Through contacts of a lecturer at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (who happened to be a member of one of the nature and landscape management organisation in the Westerkwartier too), the Westerkwartier was chosen as a research area.

The first three years of the project was exclusively financed by Wageningen UR but the remaining two years, the project also received funds from the Regional Transition Programme of the Green Knowledge Cooperation (GKC). The Westerkwartier Initiative Group (WSI), emerged from the developed cooperation, sent a subsidy request to the Regional Transition Programme. She was provided with funds to engage the “green” knowledge infrastructure for two years in the region to answer regional research question (Project Leren in het Westerkwartier).

Representatives of the municipalities and the province participated in setting up a research agenda. The main tasks of the publically funded knowledge institutes involved in ‘Brug toekomst’ was: A: to facilitate and organise meetings where local organisations could exchange ideas and formulate development questions for the Westerkwartier, and B: helping to reformulate development questions into academic questions and provided students for carrying out the necessary research tasks.

The project ‘Brug toekomst’ required not only the agricultural nature & landscape organisations but also other local organisations to come together and discuss about local development plans and questions. One of the most important outcomes of the project ‘Brug toekomst’ was therefore the formation of the Westerkwartier Initiative Group (WSI) which acts as a key figure in networks concerning regional learning in the Westerkwartier today.

The impact of ‘Brug toekomst’ on development activities in the Westerkwartier is regarded as a success. But the local organisations can take more advantage of the cooperation if they use the results of the investigations in a broader way. Future projects will therefore deal also with transforming research results into actions in the Westerkwartier. An overview of the project and its research activities can be found in the book ‘Geleerd in het Westerkwartier’. Een onderwijsproject in een dynamische regio 2003-2008 (Derkzen, 2009).


Contact details


Ir. Ariën Baken,
Van Hall Larenstein,
Postbus 1528,
8901 BV Leeuwarden,
Telephone: (+31) 58-2846102, Mob. 06-10569687,
Email: or