Developing strategic learning networks in the region

In the current annex, the experiences of the participating organizations are summarized giving an example for the other educational intuitions how strategic regional learning networks can be developed based on the proposed methodology.


VIVES University College - Department of Agro and biotechnology

VIVES is a University College located in West-Flanders (BELGIUM). It has 6 innovative campuses, 6 interesting fields of study, 6 centers of expertise, 1,250 motivated employees, +13,000 students, 1,000 bachelor’s dissertations annually, on assignment of the field, +100 current research projects & contracts, +150 researchers, +7.5 million euros in turnover in research and services.


Focus groups have been organised



The department is at plateau 2: Plateau 2: Find and visit each other; first step towards sustainable cooperation.

Plateau 3: Sustainable collaboration on shared projects.

and is sometimes heading to platform 2

Link with the pilot case: The student companies work together on an ad hoc base but as we did broaden the project of SBP we are hoping to go to a sustainable cooperation so that students can collaborate on a structural way with local companies

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Gebiedscooperatie Westerkwartier, Hanzehogeschool and Terra

Area cooperative Westerkwartier is an innovative SME. It distinguishes itself from the many other cooperatives because it is not organized around one goal or within one branch. It connects green entrepreneurs, nature managers, knowledge institutions, governments and citizens in the region. Its members do not come from one sector and it is not about one goal. It focuses on the development of collective short chains. These chains include food, energy, water management, nature, bio based economy, health, welfare and care - all in the region, with the region and for the region. It tackles its issues in an integrated manner and the aspects of green economy, sustainability and innovation are clearly visible.

Hanzehogeschool is an internationally oriented knowledge institution.

Hanze offers professional higher education and practice-oriented research. They train high-quality professionals with a wide range of training courses. In addition, the Hanze University of Applied Sciences is working on new solutions and innovations for professional practice and society. Together with companies and institutions, we develop applicable, practice-oriented knowledge. The strategic spearheads of Energy, Healthy Aging and Entrepreneurship have a prominent place in education and research.


Terra is an agricultural training centre with about 7000 students that offers Practical Education, Preparatory Secondary Vocational (vmbo-green; 12–16 years), the Green Lyceum, Secondary Vocational Education (mbo, 16-20 years) and Part-time Adult Education (TerraNext) in the provinces of Drenthe, Groningen and Friesland. Our courses have a 'green character', which means that the programs have to do with green, food, animal, nature and environment.


The interactive exercise has been performed in a mixed focus group:

The manager of the Area Cooperative Westerkwartier and a management assistant. The dean of Hanze Hogeschool and a teacher. The regional manager of Terra and a teacher/ coach. The district coordinator of Helpman/ De Wijert, of the municipality of Groningen. The manager of the Innovative Work Place Helpman/ De Wijert in the city of Groningen.

The participants have been asked to do some homework: work out the three ball model (current and desired situation), determine the plateau and do the Fill Map exercise.


Area Cooperative Westerkwartier concludes that the cooperation with Terra is at plateau 1, growing to plateau 2. The cooperation with Hanze University is at plateau 2, growing to plateau 3.


The current status is that Terra is working on several platforms (from 0 to 3) in the execution. The difference comes from the fact that the introduction of Regional Learning within the various sites has been phased. The size of the sites, the various courses and quality of the organization, professional expertise as well as the market area (quantity and quality) are also elements that have contributed to and still contribute to the differences.


Hanze University performs on plateau 3 and even on platform 4. It differs per study (FEM performs on plateau 4).


One of the most important conclusions drawn is that shared values are essential in the development of structural cooperation. In our view, these shared values can be created only by meeting each other on a regular basis and working together according to a clear agenda. When this agenda is shared and the agreements are fulfilled, trust arises and shared values arise.

Link with the pilot case: The execution of the pilot in the food week reflect the results of this IO for the Dutch partners. The  joint action showed different plateaus in the cooperation.

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Biological Post-Secondary VET School, hereinafter: BYS

The local project of PV+ within Region Västra Götaland (Västra Götalandsregionen) is allocated at the Department of Natural Resources (Naturbruksförvaltningen) involving the Biologiska Yrkeshögskolan (Biological Post-Secondary VET School, hereinafter: BYS). It is an agricultural education center at the higher vocational education and training level (EQF level 5-6). BYS is centrally located in Skaraborg. The programs at Post-Secondary VET School are always designed on a skills-need basis and in collaboration with trade and industry. The students’ knowledge development during their studies can be integrated with the needs and demands of the field.


In Sweden interviews have been performed with the target group: teaching personal and management of BYS and the representatives of the branches of trade at steering group meeting and with the stakeholders at the Department of Natural Resources.


The exercise builds on the growth model. This model focuses on the cooperation between the various parties in the region: government, education and business.

The starting point of this growth model is that the parties will closely work together. Thus, the manner of co-operation changes with time and is not fixed from the first day. The model distinguishes four platforms.

Plateau 1: Working together when possible, on an ad hoc basis.

Plateau 2: Find and visit each other; first step towards sustainable cooperation.

Plateau 3: Sustainable collaboration on shared projects.

Plateau 4: Work as one organization.

Region Västra Götaland is steered by elected representatives, the county council. In this way, it is a pubic body. However, the Department of Natural Resources manages educational institutions e.g. BYS. In means that regional government and education works as one organisation. A plateau 4 cooperation is carried out.

The missing segment is the linkage of the business. It interacts with BYS via steering and leading committees. Therefore, a plateau 2 cooperation is realised. Opening and scaling up the cooperation is desired. The aimed level of cooperation is plateau 3. It means that branches of trade (i.e. the representatives of the business) shall have to opportunity to pose business related questions and give inputs which will be answered and a solution will be delivered by BYS as part of multi-funding base projects.



As a result of the applying the above model, it was clear that all the parties are governed by the same political steering. It means that the goal settings and the value grounds are the same expect for the branches of trade. Therefore, the Fill Map Partnership concept was not used.

Bridging the gap with the branches of trade, the University of Skövde interviewed the branch of trade. Their research showed what capacity BYS needs to set up a cooperation platform and connect it with the Programme. The research concluded that the branches of trade want to be more active but there are several question marks concerning the work place based learning of the students.

Link with the pilot case: The delivered actions are the key findings on how to set up the desired cooperation platform established by using IO1.

For the institutes who want to use the ’Filling the Partnership Map, this scenario might be helpful.

Below is a possible work schedule for a meeting about the filling of the Partnership Map.



Opening and explanation: 15 minutes.

Welcome and introduction of the working method by the facilitator:

- Procedure Fill-Map Partnership - Data collection -> research approach - five commandments for a democratic dialogue.

45 minutes

Task 1: Step 1 of the fill-map form subgroups, people of the same network are not in one group - Instruction: "Go talk to each other about the question ‘when is the cooperation a success for you?’. Proceed from the ideal situation, your dream, regardless of the actual situation or obstacles on the road. Someone quotes this into the fill map. Fill the column on the right side of the Fill Map (Step 1) by the facilitator

15 minutes

Interim feedback (plenary): what values are called?

60 minutes

Task 2: Steps 2, 3, and 4 of the fill-model

- Form subgroups, people from the same team/ same organization apart – starting point: the plenary mentioned values

- Imagine how in the light of those values your ideal co-operation with researchers and professionals look like.

- Identify what needs to happen in order to reach that cooperation by filling, respectively, 2, 3, and 4.

- Get inspired by documents, instruments, procedures, etc., but also skills of specific individuals that help you within your own network. Fill in the other columns of the fill map.

15 minutes


30-45 minutes

Plenary discussion of the findings of the group. Step by step, the various blocks of the schedule are discussed.  Jointly complete step 5 of the fill-model (this can also be done in a sub group round).

30-45 minutes

The joint drafting of the final version of the Collaboration Model. Plenary is decided what should appear in the squares of the final version.

Note: Timestamps are indicative, based on the availability of time (a day? Half a day?).

Fill Sheets of the Collaboration Model (print in color on A3 format or larger). Handouts  ‘Five commandments for a democratic dialogue' (see below). Preparation: take your own fill sheets to the session.