Anouk Wagenaar – Founder of the Sanquin Academy

Sanquin Academy – the connecting factor in the Hid

Knowledge needs collaboration for impact

Interview with Anouk Wagenaar

September 17, 2021

The Sanquin Academy was launched in 2021 as an independent business unit, located in Amsterdam’s New West Health & Innovation District (Hid). In this interview, founder Anouk Wagenaar talks about the goals and potential of the Sanquin Academy, as well as her motivation and ambitions for the Academy.

What is the goal of the Sanquin Academy?
We offer well-designed training courses in the area of blood-related diseases – after all, this is a field in which Sanquin is the authority. Valuable connections are created by bringing colleagues together from different divisions, and also by bringing them into contact with professionals ‘from outside’. The resulting collaboration means that they can heal patients faster.

Our professional modules and skills training are relevant, up to date and challenging. And important connections are created during our training courses. On the one hand, these are new mental connections, as participants are equipped with new knowledge and skills, which enable them to do their work better. On the other hand, new work connections – relationships – are created, and these allow participants to work together more effectively in the healthcare chain. A great side effect is that our training courses also make us attractive to fantastic, new employees!

To give the reader an example: The training course ‘Connecting with your environment, networks and alliances’ was attended by professionals from all divisions of Sanquin. They were given the assignment to start working on one of their own research questions. During the work session, the group discovered that a number of them were working on the same issue. Once they shared their knowledge and experiences with each other, better solutions immediately emerged.

What else do you offer – and for whom are the courses relevant?
We offer professional knowledge modules on topics such as haemostasis, immunohematology and apheresis. We also offer skills training in areas like project management, entrepreneurship, the new ways of working together and leadership. And we provide training courses in the field of knowledge transfer and communication, such as ‘knowledge-sharing for teachers’ and ‘knowledge-sharing in practice’.

Our courses are suitable for people occupying a variety of places in the healthcare chain, such as doctors, analysts, clinical chemists and laboratory assistants. We also have programmes that will interest startups and managers in the healthcare chain. And we hold symposia and lectures on current topics, such as Covid-19. Many Sanquin lectures and symposia are accredited by professional associations and can therefore be used to collect PE points.

What motivated you to set up the Sanquin Academy?
The social value of our expertise is enormous; it is truly a golden asset! What many of us may take for granted here is very valuable to the outside world. With the Sanquin Academy, I want to increase visibility and accelerate recognition of our expertise in the outside world. The more people learn from and are inspired by us, the more effective they can be in their work. I also want Sanquin itself to remain innovative and inspired.

The Sanquin Academy aims to be an inspiring place where professionals from the healthcare chain can come together and invest time in professionalisation, meeting and reflection. Being an expert does not automatically mean that you can effectively share your knowledge and inspire others. The difficulty of the latter is often underestimated. I want to enable good knowledge-sharing as an experience, and how it can benefit us. That motivates me enormously.

Where do you want the Academy to be in five years’ time?
In five years’ time, the Sanquin Academy will be a successful, independent training platform operating in the Hid. It will be impossible to imagine life without it. Internal and external professionals will be aware of the Sanquin Academy as the place for knowledge transfer, and for the development of knowledge and professionalisation. As a connecting link between all parties, the Academy will offer a very attractive range of professional modules, relevant skills training and inspiration sessions. The connected teachers and mentors are the lifeblood of the Academy.

In the coming year, our focus will be on showing the outside world what the professionals at Sanquin and other Hid residents can do. We want to reach out more and provide professionals with a bigger platform. We also want to carefully map out our various target groups and get to know them well, in order to be able to provide them with appropriate programmes. Individuals are already signing up for several (sometimes as many as nine!) modules.

How do you choose the content for the training courses?
We choose the content for the training courses by listening carefully to content experts and trainers. What knowledge do they find important to pass on, what story do they want to tell? In addition, we identify the needs of the target group. What are their learning goals? Our role is then to select the appropriate subjects and formulate the appropriate learning goals with these same lecturers and trainers.

Proper selection is essential for good training. This is so incredibly important. We also support lecturers in the design of their courses. And we often apply the same processes in engaging development issues at Sanquin, to benefit managers and their teams or departments. We start with discussion of the issues and then move on to research the exact learning goals in relation to future participants’ current situations. We then come up with advice for appropriate learning intervention.

What will the Academy’s role in the Hid be?
Sanquin Academy will be an inspiring meeting place for entrepreneurs, away from hectic everyday life, where they can join each other in professionalising their skills. So that they can make a bigger impact, faster – benefitting from an enlarged network and innovative insights and tools.

The Hid allows us to accelerate our development. It will provide a new impulse. The new occupants provide an opportunity for us to forge connections, between both small and large parties. The Hid will give the Sanquin Academy an opportunity to play an effective connecting role, in which we can guide collaborations on the one hand and provide targeted training to its occupants on the other.

The Sanquin Academy provides various training courses and/or customised guidance for startups and collaboration partners. We will start with skills training in leadership, collaboration and innovation. The Academy offers these training courses to the entire, entrepreneurial Hid community. Entrepreneurs can thus lay a good foundation for their businesses and expand their networks. We also offer entrepreneurs tailor-made guidance on development and cooperation issues. For example, we will soon offer a session on cooperation with the OLVG laboratory and diagnostics.

We are good at stimulating conversations by asking the right questions. First we reflect, then we help each other with best practices. Then we prepare the right methods and questions, and bring in the right trainers and expertise.

What will change at Sanquin now the Academy has a more external orientation?
What we see is that ‘learning in a group’ stimulates more development. So this is the next step. Besides offering a number of successful open-registration skills modules, we are moving towards training entire teams and departments.

Not much will change in the individual skills modules, except that registrations will no longer be via the Sanquin website, but through

Can anyone (also from outside the Hid) register for training courses?
Yes, registration was already open for the knowledge modules and from 1 November this will also apply to skills training. We are receiving applications from institutions and hospitals and we also want to expand to include commercial parties. We will, however, remain in the healthcare chain.

We think that a more diverse group of participants will generate a lot of new energy and insights. Every participant is a potential collaboration partner and participation will enlarge everyone’s network. We make sure everyone feels welcome, we spend time on getting properly acquainted and we guarantee security. Our trainers are committed to this.