On Thursday, August 24, representatives from various disciplines and institutions from the LDE universities, university medical centres and universities of applied sciences in South Holland went on a joint retreat. The goal: fleshing out the Healthy Society strategy and coming up with proposals for a joint working and investment agenda in cooperation with the province of South Holland. With its five overarching themes, this strategy seeks to contribute to a thriving, healthy society and plays a crucial role in the future of the Healthy Society programme.
As the representatives from colleges, universities, medical centres and various stakeholders in South Holland trickled in, they were given a warm welcome by coordinators Prof. Dr. Andrea Evers and Dr. Sandra van Dijk.
Fleshing out the Healthy Society strategy
Prof. Dr. Andrea Evers kicked off the retreat with an informative presentation on Healthy Society's goals, strategy and proposals for a new structure based on broad representation of various institutions and sites in South Holland. Representatives from different scientific institutes will independently organise activities and events linked to the themes, playing a crucial role in forming partnerships, facilitating collaboration between projects and setting up activities in South Holland.
After the presentation, Dr. Sandra van Dijk invited attendees to share their insights on the themes that most appealed to them. Groups were formed spontaneously and highlighted the strengths of Healthy Society's interdisciplinary approach, with the diversity of expertise within the groups providing unique perspectives. Amidst the torrent of promising ideas, interesting discussions and new perspectives, the coffee break fostered connection, with experts from various backgrounds gathering around the coffee table. Attendees took a brief break to recover, after which the session moved to the next phase: healthy society's working and investment agenda.
Working and investment agenda proposals
There are often gaps between policy, practice and knowledge institutions, successful collaborations often fail to follow through and while a comprehensive approach can promote true health gains, efforts are often fragmented. With its partners, Healthy Society aims to increase the well-being of the people of South Holland and reduce health inequality by building a well-connected knowledge infrastructure, as is reflected in the goals of the working and investment agenda.
The first goal emphasises the importance of stronger, long-term partnerships between knowledge institutions, policymakers, practitioners and citizens. The abundance of complementary knowledge institutions in South Holland offers unique opportunities for sustainable partnerships: universities of applied sciences, universities and medical centres possess a wealth of knowledge, which can be leveraged through structural collaboration. In the long run, sustainable and structural collaborations can help create a knowledge infrastructure that links successful projects and enables upscaling. The second goal revolves around connecting and scaling up successful initiatives through a robust knowledge infrastructure, closely linked to local, regional and national authorities and other relevant stakeholders. Connecting successful initiatives and scaling them up in living labs can pave the way for sustainable implementation and translation to local contexts, making them available to a wide audience and creating comprehensive long-term solutions that will make South Holland a healthier place.
With these starting points in mind, attendees split up into five thematic groups, where they made posters to share their ideas on the working and investment agenda. Stakeholders, ongoing initiatives, possible improvements and future plans were the main focus, and despite the diversity of the groups and themes, remarkable common threads emerged, such as co-creation with citizens and a comprehensive approach. After completing the posters, the representatives shared their insights with each other, further strengthening the synergy between disciplines.
Attendees left the retreat armed with new inspiration and insights and spoke highly of the dedicated, collaborative, and innovative atmosphere. The meeting saw stakeholders join forces and experts put their heads together to make plans for the future. Healthy Society continues to work towards a future in which South Holland is a paragon of health and well-being.