Guest column

Claudia Reiner

National vice president Techniek Nederland

“Innovation seems to be a magic word in our rapidly changing society and economy. Unfortunately, we don’t turn these innovations into products that you and I can use as often as we should. And this is what it’s ultimately all about. These innovations don’t necessarily have to be something new; you can also tie existing technology and products together to create new innovations. Brightlands plays an important role in these efforts. I was recently at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, and was impressed by how they are working on valorisation. They can take amazing inventions from the laboratory and launch them on the market so that they can be of value for people.”

  It doesn’t always have to
happen in Delft or Eindhoven

Making innovations tangible

“IDuring a visit like this, when I hear about and see all of the things happening at this and the other three Brightlands campuses, I can only arrive at one conclusion: this deserves a much broader platform. So many more people should know about the kinds of opportunities here. This definitely also applies to entrepreneurs running SMEs. The developments in climate and sustainability, for example, are so extensive that they are nearly impossible for an average entrepreneur to keep up with. On the other hand, you can’t afford to miss the boat. SMEs are mostly looking for practical and applicable solutions. It’s also a matter of knowledge. What should I do? Can I invest? How can I anticipate developments and make these accessible? This is another way Brightlands offers value for entrepreneurs. There is knowledge available at the campuses, and the campuses are where this cooperation begins. We are contending with a labor shortage, and are looking for ways to lower our cost price. In the Building Agenda, the goal is to achieve productivity growth of 30 percent, but you need new technology to get there, such as digitalization and industrialization. We have to learn and experiment in a way that is more tangible, in a living lab for example. In my world of building and installing, it’s only logical for us to be located close to the Brightlands campuses in Geleen and Heerlen. When it comes to innovation, you could say the same thing about agri-food and the campus in Venlo.”

True collaboration

Another example is the research currently being done at the Brightlands campus in Geleen on storing energy in a cell or molecule. If this is a success, it will be a real breakthrough in the entire energy transition situation. If we could then truly accelerate the application of this very favorable innovation through a public-private partnership with business, then you’re talking about true collaboration. This is the direction we need to take.

It’s only logical for me to make the connection between my work and the Climate Agreement. It’s also clear we will eventually stop using natural gas, which means new ways to supply energy, sustainably. We are all already familiar with wind and solar energy, but how important will aqua-thermal energy, geothermal heat or hydrogen become? How can we solve the storage capacity problem? What kinds of choices must we make? I am convinced that Brightlands can help us find solutions. Actually, we could stand to be more courageous in Limburg when it comes to attracting this agenda to the region. We need to be frontrunners. It doesn’t always have to happen in Delft or Eindhoven. As entrepreneurs in Limburg, we should stake our claim to some of the activities involved in this theme. We can’t do this without Brightlands.


Claudia Reiner is the director of the installation company Caris & Reiner in Sittard. She applies her entrepreneurial experience in her position as national vice president of UNETO-VNI (new name as of 1 January 2019: Techniek Nederland), the organization for electro-technical contractors. 

As a negotiator serving the interests of the installation sector, Claudia has a garnered a seat at the table for the built environment sector as well as the job market and education in order to implement measures related to the Climate Agreement.

Claudia Reiner is also a member of the Building Agenda Task Force and the TNO Buildings, Infrastructure & Maritime’s Strategic Advisory Council. 

She set up the Southern Chain Cooperation Platform which is dedicated to innovation and change in the building sector. It was this same drive that led to her chairmanship of the Sustainable Housing Platform. 

All these efforts in the field of sustainability haven’t gone unnoticed: in 2017, Claudia Reiner was number one on the Sustainable Top 50 list. This list is an annual gauge created by ABN Amro Bank to rank people who have been successfully active in sustainability in the building and real estate sectors in the Netherlands. 

Claudia Reiner is married and has two daughters.