A 'Bright' look into 2019

january 18, 2019

A 'Bright' look into 2019

Blog by Bert Kip, CEO Brightlands Chemelot Campus

Making room for continued growth.
Do you still use a paper calendar, or did you switch to digital years ago like me? I find digital calendars to be really convenient. In spite of this, I did always enjoy picking up my old paper organizer at the end of the year and poring over the pages, going back in my mind to all those meetings, plans and all the results. I also loved writing down all the first appointments for the new year in that new diary, with all its promise.

Even though my digital calendar seamlessly strings the years together, I would still take a moment after the holidays were over to reminisce about the previous year. 2018 was a great year. It was also a year of struggles and dilemmas. We have been building on our campus here in Geleen since 2012. After having gotten off to a flying start, we now find ourselves in a period of persistence and perseverance. A year of working with all of the different stakeholders, each with their own specific interests, to figure out how we can continue to be the engine driving growth in the region, now and in the future. Even though this consumes a lot of energy, it thankfully also generates an awful lot of energy in return!

I am proud of what we have managed to build together on our campus and in our community in 2018, literally and figuratively!
In a literal sense, we have built two new amazing Brighthouses, giving the Brightlands Chemelot Campus more room to grow. The great part is that this yields exactly what Brightlands was intended to achieve. Interesting crossovers develop, and start-ups, spinoffs and training programs are growing like never before. Lonza is a good example. Once begun as a start-up called PharmaCell at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, it is now the center of growth when it comes to cell therapy at the global company Lonza. This organization is the fastest-growing company at the Campus and one of the new Brighthouse tenants. After a challenging start, Isobionics, a DSM spinout, was proud to talk about how well the company is growing on its tenth anniversary. Isobionics will also get a home befitting its status at the new Brighthouse. The Brightlands Materials Center will also continue its growth thanks to new facilities. The Campus also welcomed new players in 2018, such as Ioniqa with its pilot plant for recycling polyester waste, and the Japanese corporates, Sekisui and Mitsui. And don’t forget the substantial number of start-up companies. We passed the magical boundary of 2,000 knowledge workers last year, double the number we started out with in 2012. The number of students studying at the Campus grew from 0 in 2012 to the current 850.

We also experienced growth in a figurative sense. We looked for and found the connection to the region during the many events we organized or in which we were involved as a partner. During Chemistry Day for example, 2,500 interested parties learned more about the pioneering activities going on at the Campus. At the successful TalentDay, more than 500 young people got the chance to learn about the employment and study opportunities both the Campus and the site have to offer. SMEs are also finding out more about us, enabling us to collaborate on important social themes and work on the future of our region.

2019, A year of future developments, a year in which we look for room to grow.
The successful growth of our campus also presents us with challenges, however. After all, we are starting to reach the limits of our physical growth. This year we will be completing two new facilities in addition to the Brighthouses. In order to make room for future developments, we are going to tear down old buildings. Together with our stakeholders, we will also be studying whether we can develop an additional ten hectares of property on the north side of the Campus. For us, 2019 will be a year in which we look for room to grow.

In terms of substance, we will also be playing a meaningful role as a campus in 2019. Sustainability became a central theme in 2018, particularly when it comes to chemistry and materials. The plans to continue developing Chemelot to make it the most sustainable, safe and competitive site in Europe really began to take on a practical dimension. This yields a huge opportunity for Brightlands Chemelot Campus: a new public-private research center is being created at the campus for the development of sustainable processes. We will be working on new technologies and materials here as well as circular systems to ensure that end-of-life materials may be reused as raw materials. The goal is for this to ultimately make us CO2-neutral.

As Brightlands Chemelot Campus Community we work on the sustainable, economic development of the Euregion.
On behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, we are leading the discussion to form consortia with companies from the regions of North Rhine-Westphalia and Flanders that are working on the sustainable, economic development of the Euregion. I am fully confident that we will achieve this, and that this role suits us. Over the past year, we have shown at the Climate and Innovation Tables in The Hague that this region matters. We have also shown that we can truly offer sustainable solutions in the fields of energy and materials. And that we are getting better at bundling the strengths that are available in abundance in this region. With the support and cooperation of regional government, we can make the difference.

What we have already achieved here was done as a group effort, as the Brightlands Chemelot Campus community. This is an accomplishment we may be proud of, and is also one that we must maintain and continue to work on. Let’s work together again in 2019 and continue to build on the safest, most sustainable and most competitive site in Western Europe!

I wish you all a healthy, safe and successful 2019, with plenty of triumphs in your own business.
Be sure to take maximum advantage of what our campus community has to offer. If reading my musings gives you good ideas or leads to critical questions, let me know. I would be happy to make room for you in my digital calendar!


Kind regards,

Bert Kip
CEO, Brightlands Chemelot Campus

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