Our focus for 2022-2027

Much will change in the coming years in the social, technological and economic fields. The Dutch education and research sector works together in SURF to address these challenges. As a cooperative, we stand strong together. Read how we are contributing to Dutch education and research today and tomorrow so that they can excel.

Developments in education and research

Front of the strategy document

We see a large number of developments that present challenges for Dutch education and research. A selection of current developments: as far as the market and technology are concerned, the digital transition is offering opportunities, the platformisation of services by market players is affecting supply and demand and the topics of digital sovereignty, sustainability and cybersecurity require more attention. If we look at politics and society, we see more and more focus on areas such as privacy, public values and the responsible sharing of data. We also see that education needs to become more flexible in order to offer students more freedom of choice. In terms of research, the way we handle data is changing, and the importance of the FAIR principles is increasingly recognised.

Challenges and ongoing needs

We need to respond to these developments. Based on this, we see the following challenges for education and research: 

  • Good and efficient collaboration with each other and with (international) relevant parties
  • The continued autonomy of the sector at a time when big tech is gaining influence
  • The protection of our infrastructure, (research) data, and personal data against (cyber) threats
  • A quicker and more efficient response to developments

As an IT cooperative, SURF can take up the gauntlet. In doing so, we will not lose sight of the existing needs of SURF members. After all, members are affiliated with SURF because the SURF organisation provides reliable and efficient services, encourages IT innovation, and organises the sharing of knowledge. SURF will therefore continue to work on improving these basic needs in the coming years.

SURF's roles

Studenten in overleg

As SURF, we fulfil 3 roles three roles that are embedded in the legal form of a cooperative: an association with a business. In order to increase our impact, it is important to be even more conscious of this in the future: 

  1. SURF as an association in which members work together across the boundaries of their sector/campus and together with the SURF organisation, to develop, combine and share knowledge about the optimal use of IT in education and research, 
  2. SURF as a service provider, in which the SURF organisation provides a reliable, state-of-the-art range of services that has been created in consultation with the members and 
  3. As an innovation workspace, where we create an environment in which members can collaborate on complex innovation issues with each other and with the SURF organisation in an optimal way. We choose to tackle these issues with an ecosystem approach that brings together various parties, agreements, and technologies to achieve a solution.

De focus van SURF voor 2022-2027

Collaboration in ecosystems

Een student die zit en naar zijn webcam zwaait

New forms of collaboration are needed to ensure that content and technology reinforce each other. Collaboration is needed on a national and international level. SURF has a role to play to promote this collaboration. We opt for an integrated approach in which people (institutions, experts, suppliers and so on), agreements (protocols, standards) and technology (service and innovation) come together in a structured way to reach a solution. That is the ecosystem approach. SURF’s role in such an ecosystem can be that of a coordinator, an initiator or a supplier of knowledge or technology, and may change at different stages of the ecosystem’s development.


The innovation workspace strategy focuses on priorities in the sector. We are going to move these priorities forward in the ecosystem approach. Each of these priorities has an ambition. The achievement of this ambition is supported by projects in roadmaps that can take several years. The roadmaps and KPIs are developed together with the members. Public values, architecture and other building blocks from the association innovation and service providing are reflected in every priority.

Want to know more? Read our strategy
SURF strategy 2022-2027