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Research window Future-oriented and Sustainable Entrepreneurship

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    Research that makes our world greener

    In order to fight further global warming, we - as citizens, governments and businesses - need to make our society more sustainable and speed up the transition to a circular economy. This is also the ambition of our university of applied sciences: careful handling of raw materials and protection of our living environment. This requires not only innovative and smart technological knowledge, but also the adaptation of existing economic frameworks, current methods of production and all kinds of strategic business models. Even though there is a will, the way is unfortunately not always straightforward.

    Our view is wider

    Practical research can help turn things around: within family businesses, from SMEs to multinationals. Family businesses, for example, have to make decisions about how to make their business more sustainable, besides issues relating to business succession and good governance as a family. Entrepreneurs sometimes face obstructive legislation within their sector. This requires expertise that is not always available within their own family. Similar issues arise in medium-sized and large companies. How can you check in the logistics chain whether suppliers are producing sustainably? Blockchain and big data can provide more insight into this.

    Setting up a circular business operation in which waste is reused as raw material is another theme that many companies are struggling with. How, for example, can you recycle composite from wind turbine rotor blades? And how can you do this in a way in which the business model and technological innovation are not diametrically opposed but instead reinforce each other?

    Our research: from sustainable to circulair

    Our research: from sustainable to circulair

    Researchers at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences address these issues from a variety of research disciplines. Together with partners from the field. This translates into concrete solutions for business, government and industry. Solutions that improve the living conditions of our immediate living, working and learning environments (in the longer term); and that offer new economic opportunities.

    We must limit climate change to keep the earth liveable for ourselves and for future generations. To this end, the emission of greenhouse gases must be reduced by several dozen percent in the coming years. With the professorship of Energy Transition we want to accelerate the energy transition and contribute to the transformation to a C0₂-neutral living environment. We do this through practice-oriented research in cooperation with companies, organizations, governments, education and society. Our research is aimed at using measurably less energy within five years. It also examines what students need to learn and be able to do to play a role in the energy transition.

    Some of our projects are:

    • Twomes - Digital Twins for Heat Transition
    • Energy-transition-aware and -capable engineer 
    • Effective insulation value on flat roofs

    Want to know more? Contact our Professor: Dr Jeike Wallinga via email(opens in new tab)

    Making family businesses stronger through knowledge and insight. Our research group conducts practice-oriented research into family businesses and gives back to them the insights and knowledge they have gained. In this way we empower family businesses, so that they become stronger entrepreneurs. At least 68% of all companies in the Netherlands are family businesses. This makes them absolutely vital to a healthy economy. Moreover, family businesses are different, because there are family interests as well as business interests at stake. Our research focuses on this special relationship and helps entrepreneurs to find the right balance. Our professor Judith van Helvert investigates the influence of the family system on the operations of family businesses.

    Some of our projects are:
    •    Corporate reputation management by family businesses
    •    The role of family businesses in civic wealth creation
    •    Conflict management tactics for entrepreneurial families

    Want to know more? Read more about the Dutch Centre of Expertise in Family Business or contact our Professor: Dr Judith van Helvert-Beugels via email(opens in new tab)

    The innovation centre for (green) polymers, fibres and composites. Here, various partners initiate and facilitate business-driven knowledge development.

    Green PAC, Polymer Application Centre, is an initiative of NHL Stenden and Windesheim universities of applied sciences. It is an important link for applied research of smart materials in the polymer industry. Within Green PAC we carry out research that contributes to concrete projects from the business community. And we focus on education in the northeast of the Netherlands. Knowledge circulation between universities of applied sciences, universities, technological companies and regional education plays an important role within Green PAC.

    Want to know more? Take a look at our website(opens in new tab)

    Although eHealth has been a promising development for a few decades, only few IT innovations are structurally embedded in healthcare practice. In projects and pilots with digital care solutions, healthcare professionals become enthusiastic about the opportunities offered by technologies like VR, serious games, data science, robotics, etc. However, these projects and pilots are temporarily funded and sustainable financing and embedding in care practice is not yet settled. Hence, our research group focuses on sustainable embedding of promising IT innovations in care practice by conducting multidisciplinary research from the perspective of care, technology and business. This results in applicable knowledge, for example useful tools that support healthcare providers in the use of eHealth or instruments for entrepreneurs in healthcare.

    Some of our projects are:

    • Methods and design principles for evaluating serious games for health
    • Virtual Reality for rehabilitation
    • Access to music for people with dementia

    Want to know more? Contact Professor Marike Hettinga via +31 88 469 7762 (phone) or    email(opens in new tab).

    The Industrial Automation & Robotics (IA&R) chair was established over two years ago. But in a world where we are connected 24/7, developments in this field do not stand still. In fact, they are moving fast and are interrelated. After all, how future-proof are you if you use a robot to optimize production processes without really thinking about digital data management? That's why we have decided to broaden our focus. The possibilities for a new professorship of Digital Business & Society are being explored, in which IA&R will be included as a research line. This new professorship wants to strengthen the connection between research, education and the regional area and focuses on Industrial Automation & Robotics, Digitalization in SMEs and Digital Society.

    Some of our projects are:

    • Development of automated flexible Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) demonstrator facility
    • Integral robotization
    • Prototyping, Researching and Innovating vision technology for Smart Manufacturing Applications

    Want to know more? Contact our Pioneering professor: Dr ir Erik Fledderus via email (opens in new tab)

    The professorship of Polymer Engineering was founded in 2008 in cooperation with the Plastics federation NRK to bridge the knowledge gap between industry and education through research. The team focuses on sustainable use of raw materials and sustainable production processes. Recycling, environmental impact and energy saving are important areas of research. With our focus on Industrial Additive Manufacturing and Smart Industry 4.0, our professorship contributes to keeping the national manufacturing industry competitive. Our research group won prestigious awards like the Delta Award for their entire portfolio, and the RAAK Award and the JEC Innovation Award for their innovative method to create new construction material from end-of-life composite materials, such as wind turbine blades.

    Our programme lines:

    • Sustainable Production, comprising simulations, fluid and thermo-dynamics within the plastics processing industry
    • Hybrid design with composites, plastics and rubbers for civil engineering purposes
    • Industrial Additive Manufacturing  focusing on both plastics printing and metal printing techniques
    • Circular Economy, e.g. tyre devulcanization and structural reuse of end-of-life composites

    Our Professor: Dr Margie Topp

    Want to know more? Click here for our page about Polymer Engineering or mail us(opens in new tab).  

    The research group of Lifelong Learning focuses on the question how professionals in organizations can be stimulated to keep up their personal development. Due to shifts on the labour market and societal transitions (e.g. digitalization, energy transition) the demands placed on employees and organisations are changing ever more rapidly. What do these changes require from employees and managers in terms of knowledge and skills? What is the importance of lifelong professional development and how do we promote a (more) active learning culture within organizations? Practical research in and with (SME) companies, sector organizations and educational institutions aims to answer these questions.

    Some of our projects are:

    • Building blocks of self-directed professional development
    • Towards a proactive learning culture in SMEs
    • Hybrid Professional: Connecting the business community and technical vocational education

    Want to know more? Contact our Professor: Dr Menno Vos via email (opens in new tab)

    More and more companies recognize that the current linear method of production and consumption will not be sustainable in the long term. In a circular economy, cycles are organized in which raw materials are used efficiently, while limiting harmful side effects. The goal of our professorship is to help companies and other relevant organizations in the Zwolle area to make the transition to the circular economy. The emphasis is on achieving changes in chain collaboration required for a circular economy.

    Some of our projects are:

    • Circular purchasing and procurement
    • Towards circular design teams
    • Born Circular

    Want to know more? Contact our Professor: Dr Liesbeth Rijsdijk via +31 88 469 7767 (phone) or email(opens in new tab).

    Research shows that differences between people, for example in competences, experience and views, within organizations and teams, lead to better performance and more innovation. But this is only successful if the focus is on making the most of those differences and creating an inclusive culture in which people can develop and feel valued. Our research group of Social Innovation, together with all our partners in the field, is investigating how this can best be achieved in practice. The goal is to achieve better performance, greater job satisfaction and optimal and sustainable use of all available human capital.

    Some of our projects are:

    • Gender include IT: keeping women in ICT
    • Working on jobs for residence permit holders: 5 approaches to employment guidance
    • Transition of young people with mental or psychiatric problems to work

    Want to know more? Contact our Professor: Sjiera de Vries via +31 88 469 6974 (phone) or email(opens in new tab).

    In a continuously changing world, with growing uncertainties due to climate change, geopolitics and health crises, it is a challenge for private and public organizations to operate in global production and supply chains. In this light, this professorship is increasingly focusing on issues around sustainability (e.g. circular economy and material passports), inclusion (e.g. access to financing or favourable contracts with large buyers), and digitalization (e.g. data interoperability and block chain applications). Our researchers support organizations in how to respond proactively to logistical and financial challenges that come their way. 

    Some of our projects are:

    • Supply Chain Risk Management during the COVID-19 pandemic 
    • Order-to-cash (O2C) optimization for SMEs 
    • Blockchain Living Lab

    Want to know more? Check out our page on Supply Chain Finance or contact our Professor: Dr Michiel Steeman via email(opens in new tab)

    Creating opportunities and increasing innovative strength in collaboration with high-tech companies: that's the goal of TechForFuture. A collaboration between universities of applied sciences Saxion and Windesheim.

    TechForFuture incentivizes mission policy and key technologies by conducting practice-oriented research. The knowledge developed directly benefits education and the regional area. Each project involves companies, professors, researchers, lecturers and students. Collaboration between the two universities of applied sciences Saxion and Windesheim and the broad scope of the research ensures interesting synergy. This is how we contribute to the innovative power and growth of the regional area. 

    Want to know more? Take a look at our website(opens in new tab)

    The professorship of Urban Innovation focuses on inclusive and sustainable urban development. Its goal is to strengthen the economic, social and ecological connections between all those involved in urban environments (such as residents, administrators, entrepreneurs and civil society organizations). After all, the city and the urban area are where the great challenges of the future lie. There are economic and social issues at stake, and at the same time cities face major challenges in the fields of construction, sustainability and energy transition. Researchers and students work in field labs together with companies, regional organizations and residents. A field lab is also called a 'real-life testing ground'; innovative applications are tested directly in practice.

    Some of our projects are:

    • Minor and field labs
    • New Almere Campus
    • Waste hackathon for students

    Want to know more? Contact Professor Dr. Evert-Jan Velzing via email(opens in new tab).


    Would you like to know more about our research, our researchers or projects? All you have to do is call or mail our information centre.

    Meet our professors

    Meet our professors

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    Dr. Judith van Helvert-Beugels, professor

    Judith van Helvert-Beugels is professor in Family Businesses at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences since June 2021.

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    Dr. ir. Marike Hettinga, professor

    The multidisciplinary (research) background of our professor Marike Hettinga is valuable to help realize structural embedding of IT innovations in healthcare.

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    Dr. Michiel Steeman, professor

    The aim of Supply Chain Finance professor Michiel Steeman and his team is to do as much research as possible in collaboration with all companies, banks and logistics service providers.

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    Dr. Margie Topp, professor

    Margie Topp is professor in Polymer Engineering at Windesheim and specializes in research in the field of composites and polymer technology.

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    Dr. Menno Vos, professor

    Menno Vos is professor of Lifelong Development. His research focuses on ways in which organizations can encourage their employees to keep developing themselves.

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    Dr. Jeike Wallinga, professor

    Jeike Wallinga combines personal passion as a physicist with technical expertise on energy transition and ample programme management experience gained in corporate positions.

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    Research news

    Research news

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    Very high student satisfaction rate at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences

    Tuesday 28 May 2024
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    Ten Clarenwater Thesis Award

    Monday 22 January 2024
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    The winner of the Ten Clarenwater Thesis Award 2022

    Wednesday 13 December 2023
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    European Award for Research Group Living Well with Dementia

    Wednesday 18 October 2023
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    Together on Our Way to a Circular Economy

    Monday 16 October 2023
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    Windesheim and Saxion help municipalities to be circular transition brokers

    Wednesday 20 September 2023
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    From automation to digitization: new professorship of Digital Business & Society connects and integrates three programme lines

    Wednesday 12 April 2023
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    New professor of Networks in a Circular Economy

    Friday 10 February 2023
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    3 million for dementia research: Windesheim closes gap between theory and practice

    Thursday 10 November 2022
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    Chiel van der Veen appointed professor of Urban Care and Education

    Friday 4 November 2022
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    Enable-dem: learning communities to speed up innovations in dementia care

    Wednesday 22 June 2022
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    Urgency of media education hardly felt by parents of children aged 0-6

    Friday 25 March 2022
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    Opportunities for data and collaboration in SMEs

    Thursday 2 December 2021
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    Getting students to brainstorm about your marketing or sales?

    Thursday 8 July 2021
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    Parents more positive about influence of media on upbringing since corona crisis

    Friday 26 March 2021