International research with impact

Research forms the keystone of knowledge and expertise at Vlerick Business School. When we look back at the past year, several trends are clearly evident. Not only have we benefited from high-quality research, but also a very large quantity of research. In addition, a comprehensive exchange of knowledge has taken place with researchers all over the world. There are numerous PhD students, who are increasingly forming a genuine community. In addition, many researchers have received awards. However, there are also challenges for the future. After all, it is crucial for academic research to have the necessary impact and to find its way to the corporate sector, education and society.

Research without borders

In 2014, Vlerick Business School was given the green light to take part in two ongoing, international research projects. “This is the first time we have managed to obtain funding for two projects of this level in the same year,” says Research Manager Eva Cools. “These are long-term European research programmes. Alongside Vlerick, the STORY Consortium also has another 16 partners who are researching the added value of storing energy at the distribution level. The project will start in May of this year and lasts for 60 months. In addition, together with 30 other institutions, we are partners in a consortium which is looking for ways to expand sustainable logistics via networks across the entire supply chain. This project will also start this year and lasts for 42 months.”

It is also striking how many professors and researchers spent time abroad in 2014. “They spent a total of 42 months abroad, which is quite a long time. They stay for a specific period at renowned foreign universities and business schools where they mainly carry out joint research and exchange knowledge with local professors. These are often PhD students in their second or third year. However, these foreign placements also offer an ideal opportunity for our professors to briefly shift the focus from teaching to the further expansion of their joint research projects.”

Finally, over the past year our professors and researchers gave 61 presentations at international academic conferences and Vlerick Business School was also the host location for two of these conferences, namely the Belgian Entrepreneurship Research Day and the European Entrepreneurship Colloquium.

From purely academic to wide impact

The debate as to how you can measure the impact of research on the outside world, separately from the purely academic world, is highly topical. After all, isn't research intended to advance society in the broadest sense of the word? Working out how to measure this impact is therefore our main goal for this year. There is no obvious solution, however, as Eva explains: “After all, how do you define the academic, social, educational and business impact? In order to quantify the impact of our research more effectively, we are currently establishing the necessary parameters. I have noticed that we have already made more progress in this area than other schools. We might not yet be applying what we have learned, but we are already actively expanding the required know-how. We also have to consider how we can expand our impact without losing the academic foundation. It is not a question of either/or but of combining the two.” 

Research in 2014
  • 60 scientific articles
  • 12 books and 8 chapters in books
  • 7 case studies
  • 21 research reports
  • 5 researchers who have been awarded their PhD and 3 new PhD students
  • 61 presentations at academic conferences
  • 9 awards including 2 for best thesis, 1 for best thesis proposal, 1 for best paper, 3 for best book and 2 for best case study
  • 74 companies connected with a Centre for Excellence or Research Centre
  • 12 chairs
  • 19 Prime Foundation and 4 Knowledge Partners

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