By Daily van Dijk, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
Valorisation, the process of turning research results into products or services that can benefit society, doesn’t have to be a daunting task. That is the message that participants in the REVALORISE+ project learned during their training programme participation. The valorisation process can help academic research results reach a wider audience and benefit society. The REVALORISE+ project helps participants understand the process and how to turn their research results into something tangible that can generate societal impact.
The REVALORISE+ project offered two pathways for participants: the Awareness pathway and the Valorisation pathway. The Valorisation pathway was designed for PhD students and experienced researchers with research results or projects that have the potential to create societal impact. Participants were guided through the process of creating their own valorisation plan and participated in online workshops, seminars, networking events, and offline Personal Valorisation Project (PVP) sessions.
Pinpointing the message
During the final online event, participants from different European countries pitched their valorisation plans. One of these participants was historian Rukayyah Reichling, a PhD student at the University of Amsterdam. Rukayyah is a researcher for the European project “Mediating Islam in the Digital Age” and although she is not a novice to the process of valorisation, she participated to learn more about the process and to enhance and strengthen her academic expertise. Rukayyah is particularly interested in valorising her research project regarding the early Dutch colonial view on Mecca by analyzing photographs, films, and sound recordings. “It really helped me to pinpoint my ideas for communicating my research from ‘hey, this is exactly what I can do and I’ll just put this on hold for later’. You also really notice that valorisation is not such a big thing. It’s a small step. You can decide for yourself how impactful you make it,” says Rukayyah.
Creating societal understanding
However, not all academic knowledge is suitable for valorisation, and it can be a challenge to narrow down research results to answer societal demand or fill market needs. This was a common theme throughout the PVP sessions in the Netherlands, where participants were challenged to answer such questions by Pieter Wybenga, Business Developer at Innovation Exchange Amsterdam. For example, “What part of your knowledge is relevant now? To answer that, you need to know what problem you would like to solve.”, “What part of your knowledge is relevant now?” and “How and what is needed to translate that knowledge into a product?”.
Rukayyah noticed that by narrowing down her content and using a different format to explain her research results, it can lead to understanding her academic day-to-day tasks outside the academic world. “I produced two short films for the MIDA project and some friends of mine, who have nothing to do with the academic world, said ‘now I understand what you are doing’.” Rukayyah goes on to say that she believes it’s important that information is brought to the public, since the project she is a part of is financed by the European Union, and thus, from public funds. It is part of her responsibility to cater to a wider audience, besides the academic sphere, to create a societal contribution. It is the effort and the contribution itself that counts. Not the size.