Dies Natalis

Honorary Degrees mark Foundation Day

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On Tuesday 30 May 2017, UHasselt will award honorary doctorates to Stijn Bijnens, Mariana Mazzucato and Morten Bennedsen. ‘In disruptive times like these the pace of innovation is accelerating almost constantly. Through their work, our new honorary doctors contribute to the change of the innovation process itself’, Rector Luc De Schepper says.

For years now, Hasselt University has added extra lustre to its Foundation Day (28 May) by awarding honorary doctorates. Over the past four decades, the university has honoured more than sixty scientists, thinkers, architects, artists and others from Belgium and abroad.

This year, the ceremony’s theme is Changemakers in Innovation. ‘We are living in an age of almost limitless innovation. The theme prompts debate about the role of government, venture capital and family businesses in fuelling innovation and sustainable growth’, Rector Luc De Schepper says. Who has to (or ought to) take the lead in such innovation? Who sets the agenda and pace? Can innovation be steered at all? ‘Our new honorary doctors are able to shed light on such questions. They are all looking for better ways to learn from the past and innovate for the future. They are all contributing to the change of the innovation process itself.’

Hasselt University has nominated three new doctores honoris causa:

Mariana Mazzucato is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value. She earned widespread acclaim for her book The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths, in which she argues (and illustrates) how important an investing, innovating government is for smart and sustainable growth. In her book, she shatters the myth of a bureaucratic government versus a dynamic, innovative private sector. On 1 March, she joined University College London (UCL) to found and direct a new Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose.

In his research Morten Bennedsen (Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires, INSEAD) focuses on family capital and family business. According to Prof. Bennedsen, family businesses of all sizes successfully contribute to sustainable growth through (risky) investments and innovation. Thereby, he debunks the still widespread image of family businesses as ‘conservative’ and ‘risk-averse’.

Stijn Bijnens (who had a successful career as entrepreneur) embodies both venture capital and government: as CEO of LRM he invests public capital in infrastructure, research, education and high-risk private companies. A successful combination in Limburg: through his efforts and those of LRM the region’s social and economic backbone has not snapped following the closure of the mines and the Ford Genk car plant.

The Honorary Doctorate Ceremony will take place on 30th of May at Campus Diepenbeek. Ceremonies start at 2 p.m.