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'We're hard at work selecting a contractor for the construction of LAB42. As soon as we've found one, construction will commence.' An interview with the Faculty of Science's new director of Operational Management, Chris Marcelis.

Director of Operational Management FNWI
Chris Marcelis

The new LAB42 will house the Informatics Institute, the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation, the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence and lecture rooms. The Faculty of Science is growing rapidly, Marcelis says. 'The Informatics degree programme is so successful that we're currently receiving additional funding from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and from a number of projects. The AI growth spurt is an exciting thing to witness. AI is becoming a big factor for parties nationally, throughout Europe and around the world. It's essential that we keep up.'

Well-positioned

Marcelis is convinced that, thanks to LAB42, the Faculty of Science will be well-positioned for the future. 'LAB42 will be the home to a remarkable concept that will allow students, educators, researchers and entrepreneurs to co-create. It will offer a base to entrepreneurs with great ideas, particularly those representing SMEs. Businesses with a presence at LAB42 will feel like they are embedded in the academic ecosystem. The place will be teeming with young talent. Moreover, LAB42 is an initiative that will allow us to forge ties with multiple regional, national and international parties', Marcelis claims.

Competition

With regard to the substantive elements of LAB42, he is currently developing three specific themes. 'We're looking at how the interior design could facilitate research, teaching and co-creation. We're also investigating which service concept is best suited to co-creation. Specifically, this refers to the services to be developed for the businesses that will be renting space inside LAB42. The third theme is LAB42's positioning and branding. Given the competitiveness of the market, how we position ourselves is of paramount importance.'

Future

According to Marcelis, the future of LAB42 will depend on how the discipline will develop. 'There's a lot of competition. Within our sector, LAB42 offers a unique environment with a distinctive knowledge network and infrastructure. This should allow us to make a difference. We want to demonstrate that this building is home to genuine public-private partnerships. Hopefully, the end result will be a perfect environment for training students and forging lasting ties with businesses and talent.'

Experience

As director of Operational Management, Marcelis is keen to create conditions that will make the concept a success. Marcelis already has some experience of public-private partnerships thanks to his previous position, in which he served as director of Operational Management at Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences for 11 years. 'The Faculty of Science is about to take a giant leap forward. Just looking at the development and positioning of natural sciences, I think it's fantastic that I'm now in a position to help shape this field.'