Brightlands 2019: let the facts speak for themselves

december 8, 2019

Brightlands was bustling in 2019. Here is a list of some of the highlights and memorable moments. Let the facts speak for themselves. A brief disclaimer: we do not present the overview in chronological order, of in the order of importance. And finally, we do not present a complete overview, but an anthology without the pretense of having mentioned everything. That would be too much. 

The police's iLab at the Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen was expanded. Following in the footsteps of the Limburg Police Unit, other police forces and investigative services have also discovered the possibilities of this iLab. Minister Grapperhaus came to Heerlen for the opening.

In many areas, bridges have been built between small and medium-sized enterprises and Brightlands. One of these is the Cybercrime Expertise Center at Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen. Many entrepreneurs have already found their way to this source of information to prevent computer crime.

Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus celebrated its 5th anniversary. Over the past five years, the number of companies, institutions, start-ups and spin-offs has doubled. The campus added a new, third building to accommodate the current and future demand of beginning entrepreneurs.

During the once again very successful Dutch Food Week at the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, Remco Havermans and Edgar van Mil were presented as extraordinary professors of the Youth, Nutrition and Health chair on campus.

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Bright Ideas. The title of the book with numerous ideas for the Pinkpop festival of the future. These innovative ideas, focused mainly on sustainability and health, were picked up during a brainstorming session of 200 students on the campus in Heerlen and during the three days of the Pinkpop festival itself. The book is a gift from Brightlands for the festival that celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Pinkpop will start working with some ideas.

Ioniqa Technologies at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen became a national icon. Ioniqa has devised a way to recycle plastic endlessly. The award is given to innovations that solve global problems and contribute to the Dutch economy. The prize: as a National Icon, Ioniqa will be represented by State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven, acting as an ambassador, who will open doors for Ioniqa that would otherwise have remained closed.


Wonderful news from Venlo: In 2020, BASF will become a co-shareholder of the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, completing the triple helix between government (the province), knowledge institution (Maastricht University) and business (BASF).

Yes, the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo was given the green light to expand with a so-called Bright House and a Bright Village. This is a major boost for the Venlo campus, which was confronted with its limits in terms of growth. The Province of Limburg and the Municipality of Venlo are undertaking joint investments in these buildings.

The Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen became the initiator and coordinator of the European Blockstart project. The project aims to strengthen the competitive position of small and medium-sized enterprises through blockchain technology.

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“It’s going really well. At the end of this year, we will have already achieved the level that our original plans indicated we wouldn’t reach until 2023. So yes, we’re growing fast! Our campus gets stronger with every new party that joins us here.” This was one of Brightlands Chemelot Campus CEO Bert Kip’s messages that stood out the most during a press conference in early 2019.

A logistics knowledge center, the Brightlands Institute for Supply Chain Innovation, BISCI for short, was launched at the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo.

Knowledge crossing borders | Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus also put this slogan into practice in a physical sense with the opening of a branch in the United States. The office is located at the University of California Irvine’s business accelerator. It will be a steppingstone for start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to enter the American market from the Limburg region and the campuses, and vice versa, a gateway to Europe for American companies.

During the Summer Course, young up-and-coming talent also had the opportunity to sneak a peek at the "beta-kitchen" of the four Brightlands campuses. There was a lot of interest in the medical innovations of the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus in particular.

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In 2019, once again, there were nominations, awards, prizes and appreciation for Brightlands and for many Brightlands partners. We've already mentioned Ioniqa's title of National Icon. Another very honorable award was the NWO Physics Valorisation Award for prof. dr. Ron Heeren. The prize amounts to 250,000 euros and aims to promote the use of knowledge in physics. Ron Heeren won the award for his successful translation of physics research into market applications, and his contribution to patient diagnostics. A happy and proud moment for the entire Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus community.


The national Science Plus campaign, initiated by Brightlands and Maastricht University, showed how important beta studies are and what opportunities beta offers in terms of innovation and the labor market.

Opening of two Bright Houses at Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen.


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The Brightlands Rolduc Polymer Conference 2019 brought Nobel prize winner Robert Grubbs to Limburg. He was one of the speakers at the conference that covered both academic and industrial developments in polymer science and human health technology.

Brightsite is the name of the knowledge center for making the process industry more sustainable. The collaborating parties (TNO, Maastricht University, the Brightlands Chemelot Campus and Sitech Services) want to use Brightsite’s to provide an impulse to the development and commercial application of technologies that make it possible for the chemical industry to achieve its safety and sustainability goals. Arnold Stokking has been appointed director.

The Ministry of Defense entered into a strategic alliance with Brightlands. State Secretary Barbara Visser came to sign the agreement. In its efforts to ensure that the armed forces of the future are well-equipped, the ministry has high expectations for the Brightlands innovations in smart materials, 3D printing, metabolism, future food, smart services and blockchain.

"There is no planet B," was Manon Janssen's provocative statement in her Brightlands Horizon lecture. At the start of the year, the chairman of the Climate Round Table on Industry warned that the CO2 goals might not be met, and companies might decide to move countries where no extra tax is imposed.

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What should the education of the future look like? That is a question we asked almost 300 pupils. These experienced experts exercised their brains during the Young Hack4SmartServices on the Smart Services Campus in Heerlen. Wonderful ideas. Is this the future: one teacher at a centralized location, with their hologram projected to many different locations? And can a holographic teacher prevent cheating?

The press has praised the 100% Limburg Bike project. It is a strong example of collaboration between Limburg-based small and medium-sized enterprises and companies on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus. It should lead to an innovative and safe racing bike that is marketed from Limburg. In other words: Unique, Personalized, Unbreakable. 

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More Knowledge crossing borders | The Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, the municipality of Venray and Agrobusiness Niederrhein, across the border in Germany, will work together on the Agropole project. This three-year project aims to strengthen the agri-food sector in the border region through cooperation.

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