New Report Released by DIT in Collaboration with the ACCEZ Programme: Funding and Governing Transdisciplinary Research

The ACCEZ board with the letter of intent
Alexander Santos Lima

This month, DIT wraps up a year of fruitful collaboration with the ACCEZ programme. ACCEZ is a transdisciplinary research initiative funded jointly by the Province of South Holland, several universities in the region including EUR, and the employer’s association VNO-NCW West.

Since 2018, the programme has been granted over €10m with the aim of fostering lasting transformations in the way knowledge is produced for sustainability transitions in South Holland and beyond, by facilitating collaborations between entrepreneurs, scientists and policy makers on various pressing questions of sustainability, from biodiversity to water usage. In turn, it is hoped that project participants from all sectors go on to leverage this newly co-produced knowledge to contribute to systemic transformations in key sectors of the region’s economy, from horticulture to construction. 

Colleagues from DIT began working with the central programme team of ACCEZ at the beginning of this year to devise a mutually beneficial learning journey, with the objective of developing new insights into how transdisciplinary research of this nature should be funded and governed to maximise its impact. DIT was especially enthusiastic to collaborate with the ACCEZ team given that their mission and experiences closely relate to our own. As Judith Schueler, the director of the ACCEZ programme, put it: "The DIT Platform and ACCEZ both have the ambition to create as much impact as possible with transdisciplinary research”. Grounded in this common ambition, a deep and productive relationship between our two organisations has emerged. 

After 5 interactive workshops, content analysis of over 50 internal ACCEZ documents, and many productive smaller exchanges, DIT colleagues Julia, Marieke, Ollie, and Luuk produced a 48-page report, two audience-targeted briefs, and a presentation summarising key insights for ACCEZ board members. Among these key insights was an appreciation of the need to nurture relationships among parties whose interests, worldviews, vocabularies, and working cultures often clash. Levinia van Arkel, one of the ‘accelerators’ working for ACCEZ who closely accompanied the projects funded through the programme, had this to say: "Re-emphasising the importance of long-term relationships between the triple helix parties is for me an important result that came out of the DIT report”. She went on to explain how attending to these relationships is vital “to keep knowledge flowing between different parties and also to be able to guide transition processes in future." 

By attempting to better understand these tensions, our research led us to offer a range of recommendations, both for the future of the programme itself, and for the wider practices of the participating institutions. Reflecting on the outputs, Martin Blokker, another ACCEZ accelerator, explained how these recommendations led the ACCEZ team to “take immediate action” to communicate the impact and value of the programme in new ways, which take into account the diversity of needs and expectations with regards to the monitoring and evaluation of sustainability investments. 

Today we are delighted to make these outputs publicly available, in the hope that our processes and findings can inspire and inform anyone working to further the contribution that transdisciplinary programmes make to sustainability transitions. At DIT, work is already underway to situate these practical insights in the context of the wider academic conversation around transdisciplinary research, with colleagues conducting a systematic literature review and producing an academic paper – so stay tuned for further news on this work in the coming months. Finally, DIT would like to thank our collaborators in the ACCEZ team for all of their contributions, and wishes the programme the very best of luck for the next phase of its work. 

Publications: DIT x ACCEZ

This report presents the results of a collaborative learning journey with the ACCEZ programme, exploring how transdisciplinary sustainability research programmes such as ACCEZ should be funded and governed to maximise their impact. With particular attention to funding and governance, the report presents an overview of the programme’s impact, a timeline of its development, an analysis of the contestations or tensions within it, and a range of practical implications formulated on that basis.

Below is the executive summary of the final report. 

A summary of the report focusing on insights about funding programs like this, targeted at funders themselves. 

A summary of the report focusing on insights about governing programmes like this, targeted at the partner organisations who partake in similar initiatives. 

Een samenvatting van het rapport gericht op inzichten over dit soort bestuursprogramma's, gericht op de partnerorganisaties die aan dit soort programma's deelnemen.

More information

About the Design Impact Transition (DIT) platform  

The Design Impact Transition (DIT) platform is a strategic initiative that creates infrastructures for transformative academic work at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). If you want to learn more about similar initiatives organised by the Design Impact Transition Platform, or if you would like to get involved in transforming education and academia, please send an email to  

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