Creating added value

True co-creation involves collaboration between stakeholders as equal partners; all the partners are generating added value both for their own organisations or target groups and for the partnership as a whole. The stronger the added value, the more successful and sustainable the co-creation will be.

The added value generated in a co-creation process is related to interests, of the partners as organisations, of the participants as individuals, and of the partnership as a whole. It is important to bring this up upon engaging in collaboration and to explore the mutual ambitions and expectations. Concrete insight into and attention for one another’s interests and ambitions will foster the development of a common perspective (Bremekamp, Kaats, Opheij, & Vermeulen, 2010). An explicit illustration of the need to map mutual interests and expectations at the start can be found in the cases involving co-creation in the purview of research:


Confidentiality considerations may dissuade participating companies from making the results of such research public. However, profiling as a centre of expertise and being able to publish is essential for many researchers and higher education establishments.

Setting down sound agreements in a timely fashion enables reconciliation of these interests. Some helpful tips in this respect (based on feedback from Marjolein Vanoppen):

  • ensure that the expectations of all the parties are clear and realistic at the start;
  • address mutual obligations: for example, a project involving students will require sufficient openness on the part of the professional field partner to have a chance of success;
  • in the event of a non-disclosure agreement: negotiate about the criteria and make proper arrangements.

Get some ideas from the following good practices:




The cases reviewed during the system-wide analysis shed light on potential added values. A recurrent factor is reinforcing the quality of programmes. For the professional field, this primarily involves proper coordination, e.g., with respect to the employability of graduates. For programmes, it involves keeping a finger on the pulse; keeping curricula, course materials, and lesson content up to date; and providing authentic education. It goes without saying that the quality of programmes is also of relevance to students; however, receiving feedback from the professional field and being provided with learning opportunities are contributing factors.

A second example is the opportunity to amass a diversity of expertise in order to bolster the development of new insights. This will also enable the participants to seek solutions to complex issues. For the professional field, this implies that the result of the co-creation process will also bear effective application; for programmes, it implies that insights gained will often find their way back to the programme, e.g., in lesson content. Witnessing direct applications in actual practice is conducive to students’ motivation and a more intensive learning process.

Other recurrent examples are the opportunities for professional development, for expanding networks, and for creating a societal impact. These are found among all the stakeholders, including researchers and services aimed at lifelong learning.

It is advisable to check, during and upon completion of the co-creation project, to what extent the intended added value has been realised.

full overview of the added value per group of stakeholders