SURF Strategy 2022-2027

A lot is changing in society, technology and the economy. The Dutch education and research sector works together in SURF to address these challenges. As a cooperative, we stand strong together. In our new strategy, you can read how we are helping Dutch education and research to excel.

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SURF strategy 2022-2027

Developments in education and research

Strategy front

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 is ideally positioned to take on this challenge.

We also keep an eye on the ongoing needs of SURF's members; they are affiliated with SURF because the SURF organisation provides reliable and efficient services, drives IT innovation, and organises knowledge sharing. The SURF organisation continues to work on improvements in terms of those basic needs.

SURF's roles

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SURF has traditionally had 3 roles. These are embedded in the legal form of a cooperative, which is an association with a business organisation. To be even more successful in the future, we will act as a cooperative in an even more conscious way: 

  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.

Collaboration in ecosystems

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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.

Innovation zones and ambitions

The innovation workspace strategy focuses on 9 priorities in the sector: 4 for the education domain, 4 for the research domain and for now 1 cross-domain innovation zone. 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 the entire strategy