Third partner meeting inspires CIV Bio Sciences partners to think big – a report

Our third CIV Bio Sciences partner meeting was all about ‘Progress & Plans’. In 2023, we started with two inspiration meetings to turn paper plans into concrete activities. Where did we go from there, and what is next? A good number of CIV partners (35) was present to hear all about it on Thursday April 11, 2024, as guests of Avery Denison.


First, Bas Reichert welcomed everyone on behalf of CIV Bio Sciences. To also reach our international colleagues, the meeting was held in English. Next up was Mutlu Cavusoglu, Director R&D on behalf of host partner Avery Dennison. Like the office in Oegstgeest, Avery Dennison’s history and portfolio is impressive. Avery Dennison Materials Group is just one of several global materials science companies that has been innovating pressure sensitive adhesive labels, for different industries including Pharma, since 1935. 

Concluding the introductory section, program manager Sandra Migchielsen gave an update on the CIV Bio Sciences programme. The Ecosystem Life Long Learning project is on track to be completed by the end of 2024 (final event to follow). The RIF mbo project has been running for almost 18 months and we are approaching the mid-term review in October 2024. We are reasonably on schedule, but there is under-reporting in terms of hours. While this is not unusual at the start of a project, we would like to point out that all hours spent on project-related activities can and should be counted. In preparation for the mid-term review, we will ask all partners to complete a survey.


In Session 1, we gave an update on Programme Line 1, Co-creation of hybrid & flexible education. By now we have gathered input from most bio sciences employers for hybrid education and are discussing how and when these guest lectures, field trips and other project ideas can be (sustainably) integrated into the laboratory technology curriculum.

Rianne Veldt-Meijer, practor Bio Sciences, took  the topic of hybrid education a step further in her presentation entitled ‘The road to learning labs’. She shared with us her dream of building ‘learning labs’ for bio sciences. Here groups of students, from vocational training (mbo) and higher vocational training (hbo), can learn professional tasks within the context of ‘real’ laboratories, supported by both teachers and professional supervisors. As Margot Felix of Chemelot Innovation and Learning Labs (CHILL) also explained, learning labs can meet the training and innovation needs of both companies and schools (see report Sounding Board Meeting October 2023). Some enthusiastic responses indicated that the seed has been successfully planted. Rianne is happy to follow up on this.

Second speaker in this session was Judith van der Zwan, Senior Director Business Development at Biotech Training Facility (BTF). She presented a unique pilot that aims to address the severe shortage of skilled people at the Leiden Bio Science Park (LBSP). Her talk was titled ‘Towards an alternative workforce and training for Biotech Companies’. In collaboration with UWV (Institute for Employee Insurance), WSP (Employers Service Point) and companies Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb and Thermo Fisher, BTF has developed a basic Good Manufacturing Practice training programme. The 10-day training has attracted interest from career changers, ‘re-entry’ workers and people from immigrant backgrounds The training starts this month with 12 candidates. Upon completion, candidates will (most likely) be offered a job. If successful, more customized programmes can possibly be developed to support the demand for talent.

Session 2 was devoted to Programme line 3, ‘Strengthen the bio sciences image’. Again Sandra Migchielsen gave an update of the state of affairs. Currently, we are not meeting our target, as the enrollment of laboratory technology students has not remained stable over the past two years. The total population of students from both mboRijnland and nationally (mbo) decreased by almost 20% (October 2021> October 2023). That being said, we did manage to get CIV partners to collaborate and join (existing and new) bio science promotion activities aimed at both secondary school students and mbo students. Our goal is to repeat and expand the activities, working together to create a long-term and coherent promotional programme. A CIV Bio Sciences Agenda has been created to keep track of everything.

As we celebrate LBSP’s 40th anniversary in 2024, Esther Peters, director of LBSP Foundation, had the honour of closing the session. According to ChatGPT, LBSP is the No. 8 Life Sciences & Health campus in the world, and No. 1 in the Netherlands! With input from many, LBSP’s position is currently being rewritten. Still in the middle of this process, Esther already showed a glimpse of the new narrative, the new look and feel. We can reveal that people and talent play an essential part, but we will have to wait until Life Sciences Week 2024 (provisional title!) this coming June  for the real deal.

After Bas Reichert’s closing remarks, we were escorted by colleagues from Avery Denison to drinks and bitterballen to conclude an afternoon of good progress and challenging vistas. Reserve your tickets for CIV Bio Sciences’ annual event on June 26 at LUMC to continue the journey.

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