Case Studies

Academic Strategy-Setting

The Challenge

VITO is a leading European independent research and technology organisation, based in the Flanders region of Belgium, focused on the areas of cleantech and sustainable development.  One unit within VITO, Connected Health, does applied research in the area of digital health and will partner with business to commercialize promising technologies.  Along with other academic institutions in Belgium, the institute was facing significant funding cuts needed to prioritise where to cut, based on strategic direction.  At the same time, the health care unit was coming to the end of their current five-year research agenda and needed to establish support for their next five-year plan.  Given the overall funding cuts, the Connected Health unit needed to establish a convincing business case for their overall value to the Institute, with a defined strategic plan.  Internally, it needed to develop clear pillars of research priorities and establish a defined framework for scientists within the unit to use to pitch their research projects.  

The Solution

Third-i worked with the unit leaders to develop their overarching strategy for their research agenda and to prepare it for board presentation.  We conducted desk research to establish the unit’s baseline ecosystem and validated the findings with the unit’s leadership.  We then developed a series of participatory workshops with the team to set the mission/vision, plan of action and internal stakeholder outreach.  In the process, it became apparent that the good work of the Connected Health unit was not adequately understood across the institute. We conducted matrix mapping to identify key internal stakeholders, invited them to some of the workshops and recruited internal champions across units.  We also set up a longer-term strategy to encourage ongoing collaboration between these key stakeholders.  Third-i worked with the team to develop a master slide deck for the institute’s leadership and internal audiences, and advised the unit’s leadership on influencing others.

The Impact

“We have had a year of strategic changes (which you have helped to prepare) and in doing so are now again declared ‘within’ VITO core by the board, including activities in strategic basic science research program.  This was better than what we expected – connected health technology is now core for VITO.  You truly can consider yourself part of this successful trajectory for VITO-Health.”

Johan Geysen. Program Manager R&D, Connected Health, VITO