When I was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology two years ago, one of the first things I did was pick up the phone to make an appointment with Michel Peters, Managing Director of NLR.
Our organisations have had close ties for many years: we share a laboratory aircraft - the Cessna Citation -, our students do MSc or PhD research at NLR and we appoint NLR researchers as part-time professors. To mutual satisfaction. The reason Michel Peters was one of the first people I phoned, was to talk about the necessity of the joint positioning of our organisations in the Netherlands, Europe and beyond. After all, we are natural partners who need to get to know each other even better and make each other even stronger. This enables us to make a concerted effort to achieve our common ambition of making the Netherlands aerospace sector even more innovative and competitive.
Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and NLR are both links in the knowledge chain from fundamental research to end product. NLR is more focused on applied solutions for the short term, while TU Delft concentrates more on long-term solutions, but we also conduct 'use-inspired' research of societal relevance. There is overlap in some areas, of course, but this is something we will address together, coordinating our efforts. You can't cooperate if there is no overlap. Instead of desperately trying to shield off research fields, we need to grant each other latitude so that we can operate for the common good.
We will be adopting this approach when it comes to the Golden Triangle, in which we are both classified as knowledge institutes. We tend to consult each other regularly, because the parties within the Golden Triangle are pretty familiar with one another. This ease of access is one of the benefits of operating in a small country. This close cooperation makes the Netherlands aerospace sector strong, also in the international arena. It's a healthy sector, which is less visible than we would like in the government's knowledge and innovation policy. Together, we need to stand firm in this regard, ensuring that we showcase the successes of the Netherlands aerospace knowledge chain.
I'm glad we have NLR in the Netherlands. Our aerospace industry cannot do without their expertise and facilities. It is an organisation consisting of dedicated experts, who have the ability to operate strategically in the Netherlands and abroad; an institute offering unique specialist and multidisciplinary expertise; an institute that, together with TU Delft, forms an indispensable side of the Golden Triangle serving aerospace in the Netherlands.