Science and industry figureheads take center stage at opening of 65th academic year

September 6, 2021

Robbert Dijkgraaf, figurehead of international science, and Ingrid Thijssen, president of VNO-NCW, give a lecture and engage in conversation with each other.

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Ingrid Thijssen.

TU/e is celebrating its 65th anniversary, and this is clearly manifest during the opening of the academic year today, as Robbert Dijkgraaf, figurehead of international science, and Ingrid Thijssen, president of VNO-NCW, give a lecture and engage in conversation with each other. This seamlessly dovetails with the DNA of TU/e and the Brainport region, where science and industry have a historical bond. The new TU/e research institute for quantum and photonics technology, which is being launched today, also represents a perfect fit. The name that has been given to the institute reflects this rich history: the Eindhoven Hendrik Casimir Institute.

Robbert Dijkgraaf, director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and University Professor at the University of Amsterdam, is well known in the Netherlands for his many TV appearances. As an ardent advocate of science, he once again underlines in his speech why science and industry need each other. The corona crisis has shown that science works, he argues, and we must ensure that it will be able to make a difference for other societal challenges as well. 

In this context, Ingrid Thijssen stresses the importance of technology for a strong Europe. Under her chairmanship, employers' organization VNO-NCW recently set a new course, focusing on broad prosperity. The employers' organization makes a strong case for equal opportunities, a sustainable living environment and European cooperation. "In the new geopolitical reality, Europe runs the risk of being the plaything of rival superpowers. Autonomy is therefore crucial for Europe. For that, being at the forefront of key technologies is essential. Brainport is the living example of this," Thijssen explains in her speech.

Robert-Jan Smits, president of the TU/e Executive Board: "I am proud that the Dutch figureheads of science and industry are here at TU/e to proclaim their vision and engage in a dialogue. The fact that fundamental science and industry can interact is typical of this university and its role as the beating heart of the innovation ecosystem of the Brainport region."

Robbert Dijkgraaf will also officially open the Eindhoven Hendrik Casimir Institute at this 'opening of the academic year' (OAY), together with one of the daughters of the famous physicist and Philips chief executive Hendrik Casimir (1909-2000). This new institute will help facilitate the exponential growth of global data use in a sustainable manner, through the integral development of science and technology in the fields of quantum physics and photonics. 

Finally, before officially opening the new academic year, Rector Magnificus Frank Baaijens sheds a light on the continued development of the university.  Baaijens: "I am very happy that we can welcome all students back on campus today. Being able to teach live here on campus and to work together in teams are essential aspects for the development and well-being of students. We are taking an important step forward today."

Due to the corona measures, the number of visitors to the venue, the large Blauwe Zaal (Blue Hall) of the TU/e Auditorium, is limited. Everyone can watch a livestream of the OAY at, and the OAY is available afterwards on YouTube. In this way everyone will have the opportunity to be involved in the opening of this special academic year. 

Media contact

Ivo Jongsma
(Communications Adviser)

Latest news

Keep following us