New Kennispark director wants to show off Twente: ‘So many great things are made here’

Marike Bezema has been the director of Kennispark Twente since the 15th of March. She wants people to contribute to show off Twente as an innovative region. “I want people to be proud of everything being developed in the region.”

Beaming, Bezema walks through the corridors of The Gallery: the iconic building on the Hengelosestraat in Enschede. Kennispark Twente has its office there, but many startups also take their first steps on the Hengelosestraat. “There is so much energy here and so many smart people. When I hear about their work, I think: ‘This is where it happens; this is the place to be’. Walking around here makes me incredibly happy”, says Bezema.

She went from meeting to meeting in her first weeks as director of Kennispark Twente. She was told about new innovations and things developed in Twente before. “Did you know Bluetooth was invented here? We are also very advanced in chip development. It’s a shame that so few people know about that. This is because people from Twente are down-to-earth, which is a positive quality on the one hand, but it can also work against you. People might say they only work on a small part of the chip, not the end result. We could show how proud we are and tell more about the cool things we are doing and the social issues we are working on. That will help us better profile ourselves as a region.”


Bezema was born in Enschede, moved to De Lutte at a young age and lived in Rotterdam for ten years, but she has been back in Twente for quite some years now. Bezema worked for the water board, was the quartermaster for Mobility Team Twente and holds supervisory directorships at Twente Milieu and FC Twente. The directorship at Kennispark Twente is the next step. Bezema has a strong network in the region. Kennispark Twente hopes to benefit from her connecting personality too. “Kennispark Twente is a gem in the region to me”, says Bezema. “We facilitate cooperation between the three biggest parties here: the authorities, educational institutions and entrepreneurs. I want to promote that cooperation between the University of Twente, Saxion, ROC van Twente, entrepreneurs, the province and the municipalities. We should not stay in our own bubbles; we should aim to strengthen each other. This will help us achieve more. We are the connecting factor between all these parties; we must focus on further developing Kennispark Twente into a dynamic and sustainable innovation district.”

Big innovation area

Bezema, as director of Kennispark Twente, also hopes to build a bridge on another front. Literally. The Hengelosestraat is a kind of natural dividing line between the University of Twente and the Business & Science Park. Bezema wants this wall to disappear. “They are still two worlds. This has to change. You need to have the feeling of being in one big innovation area here.”

The first steps to blur that boundary have already been taken, but much more remains to come. For example, a parking garage and a residential building (the Next Twente building, which will be a multi-tenant office building) must be built. This should ensure activity on both sides of the Hengelosestraat 24 hours a day. Kennispark Twente and Bezema are actively involved in the development of these buildings. “We recently had a plinth meeting for that.” A plinth meeting? “Yes, the plinths of those buildings – on the ground floor – should house small businesses, such as a bike shop, a coffee shop or a brown café. We have invited several parties to think about this. This is something that suits Kennispark: we let people meet each other with the aim of making this area more beautiful together.”

Profiling as a knowledge region

These developments should ensure that Twente shows itself off more as an innovative region with a strong focus. “We have so much to offer; so many great things are made here. Look at how the cooperation between the UT and companies profiles itself in chip design and MedTech. For example, Axign makes the chips for JBL and Harman Kardon Speakers, and Movella (formerly Xsens) ‘captured’ the movements of professional footballers and integrated them into FIFA22. DEMCON developed breathing machines for corona patients in the ICU in no time. These are all amazing feats. But we have to talk about them. There must be a global awareness that this region is where they need to be for knowledge in these fields.”

By profiling Twente as a knowledge and innovation region, Bezema also hopes that steps will be taken to ensure talent retention. Many university students leave Twente after graduating. Bezema thinks Kennispark Twente can help retain them for the region. “Companies pay a lot of attention to the situation, and the UT, Saxion, and ROC focus on this issue with learning communities. I want to bring those smart solutions together. In addition, I think we need to connect the jobs at Kennispark and students in a smarter way. Many students do not know what’s possible in terms of internships or career opportunities; they do not know what is happening inside the companies. We need to break this black box open. Students need to know they do not have to go to the Randstad for a nice internship or a job. There is a world to be gained here.”


Bezema is bubbling with energy and has many ideas. Where does she see Twente as an innovative region in five years? “I hope to have connected a lot of people by then. That you can feel it brewing when you walk through the area. This region is a great source of innovations, and we should express this. People need to know about the amazing things that are happening here. In my application, I put it like this: the painter who goes to FC Twente with his son should have a sense of pride when he walks through the area because of all the great things being developed here.”

Date: 24 April 2023 |

Source of tekst: Marike Bezema |

Author: Willem Korenromp