In 2012 the annual research budget for the Netherlands was expected to be cut from 100M to 60M in the coming years as the national income from gas was decreasing. The governmental institution for funding the technical universities, STW (Stichting Toegepaste Wetenschappen), invests mainly in collaborations with the top sector of Dutch industry.
TU/e Innovation recognised that they and the university are highly dependent on large enterprises (LEs) for research and development and were not set- up to access the huge pipeline of innovation generated by SMEs. They believe that collaboration with SMEs will become an increasingly important way to access new innovations in the future and so they made the strategic decision to develop a program which would orient some of its knowledge transfer activities on collaborative research and student-based entrepreneurship, optimizing the TTO/PRO for growth in this sector.
TU/e Innovations saw this as an opportunity to start a co-creation programme with SMEs which they called the Living Lab. TU/e utilizes its campus as a laboratory in which researchers and students, in collaboration with the business community, co-develop ideas into solutions. This way the campus is used to give tangible substance to innovations by the testing and further development of technologies to bridge the gap in the technology readiness level and create market and investor ready solutions and products. The process also ensures that products are created from market pull although some of the ideas will originate from market push.