Our Master’s alumni Vivien Csapliczky (pictured far left) and Job Zomerplaag (pictured far right) have won the biennial ‘Kremers Award’ for having written the best dissertations on regional innovation from a socio-economic perspective. Their theses respectively focused on regional development and digitalisation in southwest Hungary and the (dis)empowerment of community initiatives in the southeast of the Netherlands.
Job Zomerplaag, now an editor at Studio Europa Maastricht, said: “Studying at UNU-MERIT equips you with the tools, methods, and network to make an impact in the world. I’ve fully lived the MPP experience and, despite the pandemic, managed to get the most out of it. My Master’s thesis was a perfect opportunity to investigate a topic I deeply care about: the empowerment of communities in sustainable transitions.
“UNU-MERIT is a well-recognised graduate school and research centre with a strong global orientation. Its staff conducts research projects across all continents; its alumni are employed in every corner of the world. I hope that this recognition for my thesis also underlines the value and potential of UNU-MERIT as a hub for community-engaged and regionally embedded research and education. Maastricht and the Euregion can benefit a lot from the expertise and inspiration found in the MPP and UNU-MERIT.”
Vivien Csapliczky, who now works at Hungary’s Ministry for Innovation and Technology, said: “Having no prior experience with Problem-based Learning (PBL), throughout the course, I obtained new analytic problem-solving skills. Just as in our assignments, in my Master thesis, I was able to move beyond a descriptive analysis of the policy problem, and offer relevant and feasible solutions for policymakers.
“The combination of the qualitative and quantitative approaches used throughout the modules equipped me with the necessary skills to conduct mix-method analysis and contribute to evidence-based research. Furthermore, the specialisation of governance of innovation set the foundations for my research. I learned in-depth the main concepts behind innovation; how it emerges, how relevant stakeholders act in ecosystems, and how the government can leverage its position to support innovation and mitigate related outcomes.
“Through case studies, I had the chance to examine clusters and analyse to what extent geographical and other soft and hard factors influenced their success and larger impact on regional development. Later courses provided me with insights on the importance of topics such as Industry 4.0 and Sustainability. By the end of the courses, I felt very excited and much prepared to finish my thesis.”
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.