Strategic alliance between Brightlands and Ministry of Defense

september 25, 2019

What we’re doing here matters

Do you remember the hole in the ozone layer? It was one of the major social problems during the 1980s. Harmful CFCs used in refrigerators and aerosols were the culprits. Entering into force in 1989, the Montreal Protocol prohibited the use of these substances. At the time, I was working for a company that made it possible to use alternative coolants. My work contributed to solving a global problem, and it was a fantastic feeling.

Now, almost thirty years later, we are facing another challenge. This time, the need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions is dominating the social agenda. Once again, I find myself in a position to tackle the problem. CO2 emissions have long been the focus at our campus, which is only logical since the chemical industry accounts for a large proportion of the total emissions. In other words, we can make a difference and want to do so.

The essence of shared innovation is interaction

The chemical industry is working hard to reinvent itself. While in the past it was all about optimization, now the focus is on innovation. Brightlands Chemelot Campus is the ultimate physical environment for this. Our campus is the hotspot for sustainable chemistry, a testing ground where people can play with their chemistry sets, unhindered. This is where you will find the greatest concentration of people who know everything about materials and plastics. Not only can you develop new things here, you can also scale up; after all, we have the unique knowledge and facilities to help people do this.

In addition to these advantages, the Euregional location of our campus is a special asset. This site provides access to talent from a huge cultural area. These Walloon, Flemish, German and Dutch scientists, students and staff all ensure that we can really understand these various local cultures. After all, the essence of shared innovation is interaction, bringing together people and products that used to exist separately, sharing knowledge and looking for synthesis. Together with the Chemelot Industrial Park, our campus offers plenty of opportunities to achieve this. I am therefore hopeful that by 2030, we will be able to conclude that greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 40% and that we are well on our way to becoming climate-neutral. It may seem ambitious, but this campus offers a large part of the answer. What we’re doing here matters.

Eric Appelman is Director Business Development at Brightlands Chemelot Campus. Together with his team, he makes sure that more and more international start-ups and scale-ups are able to discover that the campus is the ideal place to develop their innovative and sustainable products for materials and biomedical applications. Eric will speak at Inchem Tokyo this fall about the role Brightlands Chemelot Campus plays in the energy transition.

Want to be part of this place to be for chemistry and materials where residents are working every day to solve the global challenges? Please contact Annemiek Mooij, Business Development Support:

The Dutch Ministry of Defense is going to implement innovations that have been devised and developed at the four Brightlands campuses in Limburg. The Ministry is primarily interested in the Brightlands innovations and applied research in smart materials, 3D printing, metabolism, future food, smart services and blockchain. 

State Secretary for Defense Barbara Visser and CEO Saskia Goetgeluk, acting on Brightlands’ behalf, signed a strategic alliance agreement today at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen, laying down their commitment to work together for the next two years. The State Secretary and a delegation of 60 specialists from the Ministry of Defense had the opportunity today to gain extensive knowledge on the innovative companies and institutes at Brightlands.


The Ministry believes that innovations in the areas of sustainability, health, smart data and healthy nutrition can be put to good use for the armed forces of the future. The partnership will initially run for the next two years. This alliance will make the Ministry of Defense a part of the ecosystem at the four campuses. Within the scope of the partnership, the ways in which the ministry and Brightlands can be of added value to each other will be further explored.


Financed by the Ministry of Defense, there is already a joint project between the Ministry and the Brightlands Materials Center (BMC), based at the campus in Geleen, that is currently ongoing and involves 3D printing. 
State Secretary Barbara Visser: “The Ministry of Defense has resources all over the world and this has an impact on health and the climate, for example. This is why the Ministry is trying to reduce its logistics footprint using technologies such as 3D printing, water extraction and solar panels in desolate areas. There are often faster, simpler and less expensive approaches. Sometimes we reach the limits of our abilities and we need the brains of organizations such as companies and institutions to help us move forward. I expect great things to come from this partnership with Brightlands!”

Saskia Goetgeluk on behalf of the CEOs of the four Brightlands campuses: “We have seen the types of major and crucial tasks the Ministry of Defense faces. The fact that Brightlands innovations can contribute to this is a huge boost for all of the entrepreneurs, scientists and students involved in the partnership at all of the campuses and between the campuses themselves.”

 Deputy Joost van den Akker: “This strategic partnership is an important step for the future. The Ministry will be applying innovations conceived at Brightlands, such as cybersecurity. This alliance is proof of the Ministry’s trust, and is not only good for Brightlands, but also for the Limburg business community, from large companies to small and medium-sized enterprises. This is how Brightlands acts as the engine driving new jobs, which is exactly what it's designed to do.” 

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