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AAU Science and Innovation Hub. Illustration: Cobe

What’s the outlook for AAU Science and Innovation Hub?

On 1 July 2022, Aalborg University opens the doors of the new AAU Science and Innovation Hub. The new building will be the region’s beacon for entrepreneurship, knowledge and growth, and a strategy group led by Innovation Director Dorte Stigaard is currently working to define the framework for the hub’s activities. She talks to us about the group's preliminary thoughts.

By Lea Laursen Pasgaard, AAU Communication. Translated by LeeAnn Iovanni, AAU Communication

In less than a year and a half, Aalborg University's (AAU) new Science and Innovation Hub will be up and running. The 8,500 square meter building on Thomas Manns Vej in Aalborg East will provide a framework for interdisciplinary research, innovation and entrepreneurship. From the beginning, the vision was to create a space that is open to everyone – researchers, students, entrepreneurs, the business community and the general public.

- Both AAU and the world around us have changed since the idea for the AAU Science and Innovation Hub first emerged. So we of course must make sure that the building’s activities are adapted to the university's development and that we address how we make the visions for the building a reality, says Dorte Stigaard, Innovation Director.

The innovation director is responsible for the strategy group that will discuss and prepare a presentation for the strategy and activities in the AAU Science and Innovation Hub. The presentation will be given to the Executive Management in September and inform decisions on how to make optimal use of the new building in terms of realising the hub's vision and purpose.

BROAD REPRESENTATION

The strategy group consists of representatives from all main areas of the university. Members include both staff and management representatives, as well as both academic and administrative staff.

- It's a solid team. Everyone is providing great input and is responsive to each other's desires and needs. The group is attentive to making the AAU Science and Innovation Hub a place that the entire university benefits from, says Dorte Stigaard, and refers to the group's desire to equip the building with state-of-the-art digital solutions so as to ensure that researchers and students from Esbjerg and Copenhagen are involved in all activities.

Inside the future AAU Science and Innovation Hub. Illustration: Cobe

MEETING PLACE FOR IDEAS AND KNOWLEDGE

The group has also discussed how the university ensures the best possible conditions for interdisciplinary research. Experience from AAU's interdisciplinary research projects shows that an incredible number of parameters and conditions need to be coordinated when researchers from different scientific disciplines work together.

- The researchers have expressed the view that they often do not speak the same scientific language. They are not located in the same buildings, nor do they share budgets. The AAU Science and Innovation Hub will be a place with flexible workspaces where researchers can collaborate. The same applies to the business community. The companies are not moving in to the building, but they will be a regular fixture there, says the Innovation Director.

The parties can meet and work together and, to that end, offices, workspaces, laboratories, 'entrepreneur garages', exhibition facilities, meeting rooms and a large auditorium are all included in the design.

According to the Innovation Director, the building should also be open to 'Mr. and Mrs. Aalborg'.

- For example, the hub could accommodate TED Talks or lectures for the Festival of Research. Another option could be to bring together the university's continuing education activities so that the building also becomes a place that enhances the visibility of the university's other activities, explains Dorte Stigaard.

INSPIRATION AND IDEAS FROM OUTSIDE

The strategy group discussions also draw inspiration from outside, particularly from other Danish universities and universities abroad that work with interdisciplinary research, innovation and entrepreneurship. What has worked for others? What does their experience tell AAU to avoid?

- In addition, we will also reach out to entities like BusinessAalborg, Business Development Centre North Denmark and Energy Cluster Denmark for their input on what they would like to see in the AAU Science and Innovation Hub, says Dorte Stigaard.

The Innovation Director stresses that AAU's staff and students are very welcome to contact the faculty-appointed representatives in the strategy group or Anne Pors Eriksen, Project Manager if they have ideas or questions about the ongoing work. Representatives’ names are provided below.

AAU Science and Innovation Hub in the making. Photo: Kasper Busk Gregersen

FACTS ABOUT AAU SCIENCE AND INNOVATION HUB

The AAU Science and Innovation Hub creates the framework for interdisciplinary research, innovation and entrepreneurship where companies are invited in for collaboration and mutual development. The AAU Science and Innovation Hub will house incubator environments for students and entrepreneurial researchers who will now be able to gather in one place and be part of a joint research environment, thus inspiring collaboration and innovation.

The A. P. Møller Foundation donated DKK 100 million to the construction of the AAU Science and Innovation Hub.

The architect and consultant is Cobe.

THE VISION FOR ESTABLISHING THE AAU SCIENCE AND INNOVATION HUB IS:

  • to facilitate interdisciplinary research that contributes to solutions to global challenges
  • to train future graduates as entrepreneurs with the ability to work in both an interdisciplinary and intercultural manner
  • to be a living hub for entrepreneurship and innovation
  • to establish new innovative businesses and contribute to growth and the creation of new jobs

Source: Terms of reference for the working group on the strategy and content of the AAU Science and Innovation Hub. Read the terms of reference here (in Danish) 

MEMBERS OF THE STRATEGY GROUP:

Members of the AAU Science and Innovation Hub Strategy Group. Illustration: AAU Innovation