Following a successful exploratory phase, the Convergence is taking its next step ahead. In August 2022, the entire boards of TU Delft, Erasmus MC and Erasmus University Rotterdam discussed the path to further collaboration. They noted that the collective efforts of the Convergence community have resulted in widespread appreciation of the added value of this collaboration. Representatives from all layers of the institutions will be asked to join in developing a ‘Working Agenda Convergence 2023 – 2026’ to draft a tangible roadmap to the foundational phase ahead. A phase in which the start of a pilot ‘Schools of Convergence’, where transdisciplinary research, education and valorisation will merge and strengthen the alliance, will be essential.
The three partners have initiated the Convergence to find novel and innovative solutions to the urgent and complex issues society is faced with, by joining forces and transcending the borders of institutions and disciplines. This ambition has resulted in the establishment of the themes Resilient Delta, Health & Technology and AI, Data & Digitalisation, and the programmes Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Centre and Healthy Start.
Towards a Future-Proof Society
Within these themes and programmes, numerous projects were set up to address climate change, sustainability, pressure on healthcare, urbanisation, digitalisation, pandemic and disaster preparedness, and to improve the chance of a healthy and resilient life for vulnerable children.
To achieve their ambition the three institutions, together with enterprises and social partners, invest in an ecosystem that facilitates a seamless collaboration between technical, social and medical sciences and the humanities in the fields of education, research and valorisation.
Continued Organisational Development
Now that the exploratory phase of the Convergence has been successfully concluded, the institutions are keen to seize the momentum for scaling up their alliance. Charting the route to continued organisational development of the themes and programmes, with the earlier formulated ambition as a guiding principle, is at the core of the foundational phase that lies ahead.
The establishment of Schools of Convergence will meet the demand for a concrete route to continued organisational development. Though these Schools may differ in nature and approach, each will bring transdisciplinary research, education and valorisation of current (and new) initiatives under one roof. And thus, facilitate transdisciplinary collaboration of researchers to find groundbreaking answers for complex societal issues.
First Schools of Convergence in 2024
Hosting the themes and programmes in Schools of Convergence will allow for better support systems to be in place and will result in enhanced visibility and recognition. Both within and outside of the institutions. The Schools will thus act as linking pins between the technical sciences (TU Delft), medical sciences (Erasmus MC), social sciences, economics and humanities (Erasmus University Rotterdam).
The Convergence Executive Board (CEB) has therefore decided on October 5th, 2022 to develop the concept of a School of Convergence. The CEB will approach the management of the themes Health & Technology, Resilient Delta and the programme Healthy Start for advice and for the start of several pilots in the spring of 2023. The first Schools of Convergence will start mid-2024.
Working Agenda Convergence 2023 – 2026
The CEB has also called for drawing up a ‘Working Agenda Convergence 2023 – 2026’ that will guide the Convergence in its foundational phase. Representatives from all layers of the institutions will be asked to join in drafting a working agenda that is widely supported. For this purpose, advisory groups will be set up by the end of 2022, including academics, scientific experts and experts from the support services.
During a work conference in the second quarter of 2023, their advice will be discussed with all stakeholders, including the entire boards of the three institutions. The concept working agenda emanating from this work conference will then be further discussed within the Convergence community and the three institutions, resulting in the final Working Agenda 2023 – 2026.
Convergence Entering New Phase
The CEB looks forward to collaborate with stakeholders in formulating a working agenda for the foundational phase of the Convergence. The CEB is also delighted that the pilot Schools will soon take off, as the establishment of the Schools will herald another milestone in accomplishing the ambition of the Convergence: achieving breakthroughs that will solve urgent and complex societal issues, by joining forces and transcending the borders of institutions and disciplines.