Patricia Heerekop (b. 1971) is head of Communication and Public Affairs at the Universiteiten van Nederland. Patricia’s goal is to help bolster the academic support base. Her stakeholders range from politicians to the general public and the resources she employs are diverse. Recent activities included organising the Twitter debate on knowledge and innovation, in which the Universiteiten van Nederland was joined by the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW), the Dutch Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MKB-Nederland), the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (HBO-raad). The debate was the hot topic of the day on Twitter. Politicians, CEOs, representatives from advisory bodies and well-known scholars personally spoke out in favour of the importance of research. The next day, all members of parliament received a printed newspaper in their mailbox with the background information and summaries. Patricia is also involved with the development of the Sector Annual Report and Universiteiten van Nederland fact sheets. These A4 sheets outline the Dutch universities’ stance on issues in perfectly succinct pieces for politicians and the press.
Patricia studied design and communication at the Ichthus University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam and holds additional professional diplomas in senior communications advisement. Previously, she developed public campaigns at an advertising agency. She also served as communications adviser at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the National Innovation Platform. Patricia is pursuing a Master’s degree in Corporate Communications at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
At the Universiteiten van Nederland, Patricia promotes collaboration and connects people with one another. In the Parliament and Science project, for example, she puts academics and parliamentary committee members into regular contact through breakfast meetings and other initiatives. Patricia: ‘On the one hand, academics can share their knowledge with politicians and explain the relevance of their research. At the same time, politicians can use this scientific knowledge to strengthen their position in the debate. It’s a win-win. What motivates me is finding those opportunities for collaboration and putting them into practice. Give science the role and the platform that it deserves.’