Enabling Innovation with a Virtual Research Environment at Hogeschool Utrecht

University of Applied Sciences Utrecht

Enabling Innovation with a Virtual Research Environment at Hogeschool Utrecht

Eraneos designed and developed a cloud-native solution that allows professors and students to work on their projects remotely

The Challenge

Developing and maintaining research projects brings a host of benefits to both a university’s faculty and students while also contributing to knowledge growth in all fields. However, to research optimally, professors need access to the right tools, training, and support from their IT departments. The challenge for the education sector, in general, is that it lags behind when it comes to embracing innovative, open-source technology. What’s more, professors without computer science backgrounds who needed to analyze large data sets were often left using traditional programming tools on technologically limited devices. Hogeschool Utrecht suffered from the same problems. And so Eraneos were brought in to help come up with an elegant solution to help accelerate researchers’ work in a more seamless way.

Hogeschool Utrecht’s new cloud-native solution isn’t only secure but pre-configured for people that don’t have computer science backgrounds.

The approach

Together with key stakeholders, we organized workshops and brainstorming sessions to understand the challenges researchers were facing. We decided to design a Virtual Research Environment that was able to use existing infrastructure and automatically create cloud-based and secure environments upon request for faculty members. This included modern tools such as RStudio, JupyterHub, Python, and more. Environments were preconfigured and Github was introduced to help researchers maintain data, version their code, collaborate, and store it in the correct repositories.

Hogeschool University of Applied Sciences Utrecht (HU) is one of the largest further education colleges in the Netherlands. Funded by the government, it has over 35,000 students and more than 300 researchers and professors. The HU values improvement and flexibility and is focused on continuously adapting to the changing global environment. They are associated with recognizable institutes, knowledge centers, and service providers with a focus on stimulating talent, entrepreneurship, and craftsmanship.

The result

Within three months, the entire Virtual Research Environment was developed and put into use, set up in a way that allowed it to solve all the challenges professors and researchers were facing, efficiently.

Onboarding of new members has also been made easier, with every user owning their own server environment so they can work on projects remotely, from anywhere. Training sessions were also set up to teach stakeholders how to operate the solution and support the environment with minimal assistance.

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