A strong Dutch-Polish cooperation in the veterinary sector, thanks to Alumni

The Netherlands and Poland have been working together since 2015 on a scientific level to better position the expertise within the veterinary sector, for research projects within the European Union. This cooperation has resulted in 15 projects. Polish alumni of Wageningen University (WUR) play an important role as they ‘bind’ the Dutch and Polish knowledge institutes.

The Dutch version of this article you can read here.

The 100-year anniversary of WUR did not go unnoticed in Poland. During April 2018 in Warsaw, the first meeting of Polish alumni was held. It is especially these alumni that are the reason of the strong connection between WUR and the Polish knowledge institutes. The cooperation was formalized in 2015 with an Expression of Interest.

WUR has close cooperation with The Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS), the University of Life Sciences in Poznan (PULS), and the Polish National Veterinary Research institute (NIVR). This cooperation is mainly focused on topics that are relevant for both the Netherlands and Poland: smart breeding, nutrition, animal health, animal welfare, precision farming, and animal husbandry systems. Within the EU context, 55 projects are already running, of which 15 are directly originated from this cooperation in the veterinary science sector.

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Development of a scientific network

The cooperation between the Netherlands and Poland offers both countries chances to build a joint scientific network. For Poland, this is of importance in order to put itself in the EU’s spotlight. The European Commission still identifies Poland as one of the counties with a lower performance in the fields of research and innovation. Through joint projects, an exchange of researchers and ‘best practices’, the research performances of Poland could be improved. Marcin Pszczola, a researcher at PULS: “We can learn from the Dutch model of cooperation between the government, industry, and science to learn how to improve our system”.

The cooperation offers WUR chances to create a stronger consortium when applying for EU research projects and to gain access to research and researches from Poland and other Eastern-European countries that cooperate with Poland. WUR sees the cooperation and exchange of knowledge as an opportunity to break through traditional ways of working and to cooperate within the animal husbandry sector and other stakeholders in Poland on the basis of interactive scientific knowledge. “The Expression of Interest signed in 2015 laid the foundation for bringing the best scientists of the four research institutes together. The meetings bring a new dynamic to the collaboration,” says Hans Spoolder (WUR). He is the project manager and EU Business developer at WUR/Livestock research. From the cooperation, multiple joint research proposals originated.

cooperation circle of hands

Examples of joint projects

Some examples of joint research projects with the Polish partners are:

  • ‘Methagene’: research using large-scale methane measurements on individual ruminants for genetic evaluations,
  • Research on genetic and phenotypic contribution to variability of methane emitted by dairy cows,
  • Research on the identification of genetics mechanisms controlling phenotypic variability of litter size in pigs.

Joint projects that are part of Horizon 2020 are:

  • HealthyLivestock, on animal welfare & reducing veterinary antimicrobial use,
  • BovReg, on the cattle genome,
  • SusInChain, on insects as a protein source.

Horizon 2020 is a European program that offers knowledge institutes, companies, as well as individual scientists the opportunity to finance innovative projects, to attract or keep scientists, strengthen their international network and/or gaining more knowledge and expertise.

Involvement and understanding

“The Polish-Dutch cooperation has proven to be successful until now”, says Katarzyna Kowalczewska of the agricultural team of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Warsaw. “The cooperating parties value the involvement, understanding, interactive communication and the willingness of the scientists to cooperate and to create relevant and useful information. This is the base of successful cooperation”.

Hans Spoolder (WUR) added: “Polish WUR-alumni play an inspiring role in this, as they know both research cultures and are able to bridge any potential differences. Not all actions have been successful but the first big projects have been financed and there is a hunger for more”.

The role of the Dutch Embassy

The agricultural team of the Dutch embassy promoted the Polish-Dutch cooperation on the field of innovation in animal husbandry by connecting the different stakeholders. The agricultural team tried to put an emphasis on subjects within the cooperation that are socially relevant. This way, science can answer any questions regarding animal husbandry from the farmers, companies and supporting companies that are in the transition to circular agriculture. To do this successfully, a practice-oriented approach is of the highest importance.

More information

  • Wageningen University: https://www.wur.nl/
  • Poznan University of Life Sciences: https://puls.edu.pl/en/
  • The Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding of the Polish Academy of Sciences: http://www.ighz.edu.pl/en
  • Polish National Veterinary Research Institute: http://www.piwet.pulawy.pl/piwet7/index_a_eng.php

Katarzyna Kowalczewska and Marisa Groenestege
Agricultural Team of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Warsaw, Poland
Twitter: @AgriWarsaw

Warsaw, November 2019