The University of Groningen and Noordelijke Online Ondernemers (NOO) are joining forces to help develop and consolidate the flourishing digital sector in the Northern Netherlands. Together they are launching the Groningen Digital Business Centre (GDBC), a new knowledge centre that focuses on developing, sharing and transferring knowledge in the field of digital entrepreneurship. An important goal is to train young talent in digital business and big data, to meet the high demand from the sector for academically trained professionals.
The GDBC aims to become the knowledge centre and talent incubator for digital business in Groningen, a place that encourages innovation and research into digital entrepreneurship. The Centre will give academics and entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop and share knowledge. A partnership between NOO and the UG’s Faculties of Economics and Business, and Science and Engineering, the GDBC will receive funding from the Northern Netherlands Provinces Alliance (SNN), the Province and Municipality of Groningen, Rabobank and Bedrijvenvereniging West, a network organisation for businesses in the west of the city of Groningen.
An important mission of the GDBC is to prepare young professionals for a career in the digital sector, says director Peter Verhoef. ‘That is why we are developing a multidisciplinary Master’s course unit on digitization. Through the GDBC, students will be able to do placements at leading digital companies and conduct research with data provided by these northern entrepreneurs. They will thus develop specific skills and earn a special annotation on their Master’s degree certificate.’
In the long term, the UG will even offer a full multidisciplinary Master’s degree programme in Digital Business and Analytics. Verhoef: ‘What is attractive about this new Master’s programme is that the expertise from two faculties will be combined with the practical knowledge from the northern digital companies, for instance in guest lectures, cases and placements.’
Through the GDBC, regional digital businesses will benefit from the academic knowledge at the UG. From the beginning of 2018, the Centre will hold seminars and one-day workshops for professionals. ‘Together with the NOO, we are also going to research topical questions from the digital sector, the UG will appoint a professor by special appointment in Digital Business and we will initiate PhD research into important digital themes’, says Verhoef.