ECN ‘thought leader’ in regional innovation policy

Monday March 2, 2015 13:48

Using knowledge for regional innovation - that is the basis of our collaborative partnership with ‘Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Noord-Holland Noord’ development company. As well as being involved with national and international projects, ECN is also keen to deploy its knowledge at a regional level. From the dunes at Petten, we are helping to highlight the Province of Noord-Holland as a regional example of sustainable innovation.

‘Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Noord-Holland Noord’ is a development company for nineteen local authorities in Noord-Holland, and for the Province itself. Together, they are investing in regional industry. Thijs Pennink, the managing director of ‘Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Noord-Holland Noord’, explains that enterprise is the key feature. “In our region, it is the SMEs that provide innovation and employment. We are also committed to making greater use of knowledge institutes like ECN as thought leaders for our innovation policy. We must use knowledge more effectively and bind parties in the region together.”

Regional impact on worldwide developments
At a global level, we are facing great challenges in terms of agri-food, water, and energy. Pennink continues, “There are the mouths we have to feed, there is the need for clean drinking water, and in our case, dry feet, and the transition to clean energy sources. ECN has helped us look inwards from the outside. What can we do about these problems? What contribution can we make at a regional level? And how can we involve SMEs?“

Smart region
Noord-Holland is active in the three areas - agri-food, water, and energy. The region has a very large agriculture sector, it enjoys an international reputation when it comes to plant cultivation and seed technology, it has its own water company, water board, and specialist knowledge of the field of sustainable energy. Pennink adds, “We are a smart region. The only difficulty we have is marketing all of this and looking for mutual partnerships within the region. That is what we are now working on.”

Concrete initiatives
Government bodies, entrepreneurs, educational establishments, knowledge institutes, and non-profit organisations have held several meetings to discuss regional opportunities. “This has led directly to concrete plans,” says Thijs Pennink. “For example, the water board has been struggling with peak levels of water caused by rain. By contrast, bulb growers flood their land in order to disinfect the soil. Could we not somehow combine these situations? And what are the possibilities for growing or cultivating something on land that is under water? There is a group of entrepreneurs who are now getting stuck into this issue.” Pennink envisages the creation of collaborative partnerships with real potential. “This is what can happen if we link up parties like ECN to SMEs. We are aiming for an integrated approach.”

If you would like more information about the collaborative partnership between ECN and ‘Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Noord-Holland Noord’, or if you would like to use ECN’s knowledge for your region or specific area, business developer Piotr Pukala of ECN will be pleased to help. 

Category: Maart, Corporate