Together with experts from innovation policy and innovation practice, the RiConfigure initiative organized the online Dialogue Days session on how innovation processes can be democratized. To do so, knowledge and experience of participants from innovation policy and praxis were linked with findings from an empirical analysis of European and Colombian cases of Quadruple Helix* collaborations.
The Dialogue Days that took place early July, turned out to be a success. The main themes of the Dialogue Days were the importance of building structure to foster collaborative innovation processes. One of the outcomes was the importance of establishing shared values and a strong democratic backbone of processes that enable all partners to join such a process are essential. In addition, the focus on transparency and inclusion is of crucial importance was part of the main conclusion too.
There are several challenges and tools when it comes to include civil society actors. Firstly, barriers for civil actors are often invisible to other actors and include challenges of a shared language, time and financial resources and bureaucratic barriers. Also, civil society actors are very differentiated, therefore there is a need to listen to all actors involved.
Secondly, governance structures that enable collaborative innovation to thrive are crucial. It was discussed that there needs to be an open space for experimentation and failing, to being able to react to changes and unexpected events.
Thirdly, the challenges for Quadruple Helix Collaborations are not only rooted in the collaboration process. Instead, it can be influenced by external impacts such as funding ecosystems and values, expectations and influences from outside the collaboration.
Finally, these different tools and challenges are not detached from power structures. Including external funding was seen as a crucial support to strengthen a more democratic approach within innovation collaborations.
*Quadruple Helix Collaborations are innovation projects involving actors from public sector, industry, academia and civil society.
Knowledge development after Covid-19
Read the Dutch version of this news item here.
While we innovate for the future, the current crisis today presents major challenges for everyone. In the last Industrie in Gesprek before the summer, Onno de Vreede (Top Sector Chemistry), Arjen Verkaik (HCA Climate Statement Flevoland / North Holland) and Frans van den Akker (ISPT) discussed the consequences of the corona crisis for the development of knowledge and skills within the process industry.
Earlier this year, offices shutdown and children and young people could no longer go to school. As a result, the use of digital techniques suddenly accelerated. Measures were taken to work, meet and learn online. The corona crisis made us use technologies that had been available on a large scale for a long time, and smart working suddenly became more important than ever.
“Digitization is an important element in making the process industry more sustainable and we have seen an increase in interest for some time now,” says Frans van den Akker, Cluster Director of Industry 4.0 at ISPT. “But the corona crisis has acted as an incentive to accelerate the wider discussion of innovation in digitization in industry”.
Onno de Vreede sees a similar acceleration in education: “I am amazed at how the pace of digital and blended learning has increased in recent months. An enormous acceleration has been established in this area. All the resistances that existed until recently have completely evaporated within two weeks”.
That digital innovation is not just about developing digital skills, is argued by Arjen Verkaik: “You also have to apply technologies such as sensoring and data analytics. It is precisely the use of these technologies that you need less specialist trained people for and thus you can recruit people who are more broadly trained”.
Verkaik goes further and indicates that in the transition to a circular economy, that we are currently experiencing, organizations should focus on Lifelong Learning for their employees: “Employees should focus on skills that they might need when they switch jobs or sectors”. In addition, Verkaik believes that a skill is faster to learn than a new profession and fits better in the perception of employees because they don’t need a training that takes years to finish. “You should actually spend one day every three months on learning a new skill. This increases labor market mobility and the development in the workplace itself”.
Learning Communities as a knowledge accelerator
But how can we combine working, learning and innovating? Onno de Vreede indicates that joining a so-called Learning Community offers many possibilities. Learning Communities are a new initiative from the collected top sectors, on the border of vocational education and business. Frans van den Akker: “Traditionally, you can acquire knowledge and skills in courses and studies. But the Learning Communities offer a whole new approach, namely: learning, wherever work and innovation takes place. Take, for example, a field lab, which can be used as an internship or as a place to teach. Learning Communities are real innovation accelerators. And ISPT is busy establishing a number for the process industry”.
Learning in Learning Communities and giving behavioral competences more attention: these are the main conclusions that follow from the question of how we can prepare the post-corona process industry for the transition to a circular and CO2-neutral economy. Verkaik adds: “Beta people always have a form of limited focus, that is not a disqualification because that is also a quality, but that broadening is necessary”.
About this series
During the Industrie in Gesprek online event series, the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT) discusses current topics such as innovation, AI and infrastructure with industry partners. The next edition is about circular plastics and takes place in September. Stay up-to-date and subscribe for our newsletter.
Cross-sector collaborations can be challenging. We need more insights into how they work in practice. Which main challenges do they face, what works and what does not? How do you actually succeed in cross-sector collaboration, particularly collaborations involving civil society? The RiConfigure project was initialized to explore these questions and – through mutual learning, training and policy recommendations – to foster cross-sector collaboration, particularly including civil society, in innovation.
Sometimes civil society steps up, takes initiative, and creates genius, resilient solutions. We have seen it before, and we are witnessing it again in the current Covid-19 crisis. People have 3D printed protective equipment in times of shortage. DIY ventilators have been built in short time. In other words, we see civil society taking steps to address societal needs and urgencies motivated by reasoning that seem to go beyond the logic of market, governance and academia.
Civil society can take part in innovation
Cross-sector collaboration between industry, academia and the public sector has long been endorsed as a means of providing solutions which are on a societal level attractive and robust. As interest in Responsible Research and Innovation grows, so does the interest in involving civil society in such collaborations. Claims are that civil society is less occupied with profit, bureaucracy and research strategies and closer to the concerns, needs and interests of citizens and society.
Cross-sector collaborations can be challenging. We need more insights into how they work in practice. Which main challenges do they face, what works and what doesn’t? How do you actually succeed in cross-sector collaboration, particularly collaborations involving civil society?
The RiConfigure project was initialized to explore these questions and – through mutual learning, training and policy recommendations – to foster cross-sector collaboration, particularly including civil society, in innovation.
RiConfigure project provides practical advice on collaboration in innovation
If you see the potential in cross-sector collaboration, but need the tools and routine to maintain this kind of collaboration, we in the RiConfigure project have good news.
Based on results of our 54 existing cross sector collaborations, we have gathered some practical advice on how to make these collaborations a success.
• Setting a goal – Define a very clear common goal for the collaboration that all partners agree on.
• Structural tools – Establish a structure for the collaboration e.g. a steering group representing the partners, a secretariat responsible for the day to day operations, a plan with milestones, an agreement on meeting frequency or an online platform for communication and knowledge sharing.
• Funding – Stable funding is necessary. This could be provided through public funding or private grants.
• Building relations and trust – Social relations and trust between partners are essential, there is a need to meet in formal and informal settings in order to make cross-sector collaborations work.
• Clear assignments and contracts – A common understanding and a legal framework regarding the activities, time frame or roles in the project helps define the responsibilities and committing the partners.
• Continuous shared reflection – Organizations belonging to different sectors have very different objectives, working cultures and languages. Recurring shared reflections can help align the partners’ understandings of the project and develop a shared reference framework.
• Enabling contexts – Contexts underpinning civil society engagement, e.g. through funding opportunities, procedural requirements or outspoken strategies, are impactful.
• Engaged individuals – Individual firebrands play an important role for the success of the collaboration, for example in overcoming potential barriers in the institutional setup.
• Lack of funding – Normally civil society does not possess the necessary funding for initiating or participating in cross sector collaborations.
• Financial asymmetries – Economic asymmetry between the partners affects the power structure in the collaboration. This manifests itself in agenda setting, decision power and inclusion/ exclusion from the collaboration.
• Fear of inefficiency – Fear that involving civil society will slow down the innovation process due to lack of experience and routine often scares off the other partners from including civil society.
• Lack of clear definition of civil society – A vague definition of civil society which includes everything from strong, resourceful civil society organizations to marginalized groups can obfuscate who to involve from civil society.
• Lack of mandate or backing from organization – Collaboration among diverse actors may require organizational flexibility for each partner to work at the edge of their normal institutional practice and focus.
• Lack of interest in collaboration – If involved partners e.g. managers are not interested and invested in the collaboration, the involvement of civil society can end up being a formal procedure rather than substantial engagement.
• Traditional management tools and paradigms – The traditional way of managing projects does not sustain cross sector collaborations involving civil society.
• Lack of national initiatives to support cross sector collaboration – There are no national public programs or strategies to support this kind of collaboration.
You can learn more about the project here or you can contact the project coordinator Ditte Degnbol firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RiConfigure project is an EU Horizon 2020 project consisting of 11 partners.
Artificial intelligence (AI) may not provide world peace, but it will increase efficiency in the process industry. This became evident in a lively second edition of ‘Industrie in Gesprek’.
On May 14, representatives from the process industry once again entered into discussions with each other and the public, through interviews, polls and chat messages. This time it was about the high expectations regarding machine learning, part of AI. Such a smart system works on the basis of an algorithm that, through experience, can automatically analyze data sets and sometimes also improve its own results. The algorithm builds on historical data, predicts and decides without being explicitly programmed to do so. Moderator Ann Robin, technology scout for project 6-25 of FME, kicks off the discussion: ‘The process industry is risk-averse; safety always comes first. So why would you apply an exciting new technique such as machine learning?’
According to Frans van den Akker, program director Industry 4.0 at the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology, the sector has long been accustomed to working with, for example, data from sensors and process control. ‘Machine learning is particularly good at recognizing patterns and detecting deviations. It is of especially good use when repetitive processes take place.’ Rob Burghard is director of enerGQ and has a lot of experience with the application of AI in energy, process and weather data. This allows energy-efficient settings to be advised and deviations to be detected. ‘If the complexity of installations increases, with all kinds of process parameters and weather conditions that you cannot capture in normal energy-based models, then it is useful to apply machine learning. It is like putting a magnifying glass on the performance of those installations.’ Michael van Hartskamp, senior scientist at Philips, knows that the healthcare sector is risk-averse as well. ‘This sector processes a lot of data, too much for doctors to handle. So machine learning is very useful. Moreover, it is safe as there is no direct control of a device.’
The remaining question is what exactly distinguishes machine learning from the common models used in industry. What is new about it? Simon Jagers, founder of Semiotic Labs, is involved in smart machine monitoring. ‘In contrast to the current models, you can detect deviations with the help of machine learning without having to indicate in advance what you consider a deviation.’
The media also pay a lot of attention to the shadow side of AI. For example, this development could hinder innovation, limit human creativity and cause socially undesirable ‘bias’. However, according to the panel members, this does not have to be the case. Jagers: ‘I am optimistic about the contribution of technology to innovation. In the United States, for example, models have been developed that allow you to quickly assemble new materials in a virtual environment that are, for example, both cheap and good for the environment.’
Many questions are asked via chat, such as: do we believe a computer over a human? Burghard: ‘It remains an interplay between man and machine. However, there is an enormous aging population in the technical profession. The younger generation is harder to find and has less experience. In the long run, fewer people may be needed, but real intelligence will always be needed to make the final judgment.’ Van Hartskamp agrees: ‘Human cooperation gives confidence to the person who ultimately has to be at the controls.’ Expectations of the technology have been too high anyway, according to Jagers. ‘AI has been hyped. Now there is more rationalization and people understand that you first need to understand individual assets. A few algorithms will not bring about world peace.’
About this series
During the online event Industrie in Gesprek the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT) discusses current topics such as innovation and AI with industry partners. Register now for the next edition which will be focused on the infrastructure for the energy transition and takes place on Thursday May 28.
The Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate has sent a Letter to Parliament about their vision for a sustainable basic industry by 2050, titled Sustainability of the basic industry; an opportunity for the Netherlands.
It illustrates how Dutch, European and global climate policy represents a fundamental change for industry. By 2050, industrial production must become climate neutral. At the same time, it is also clear that the world will still need basic industrial products by 2050. We will continue to drive, travel, dress, use medicines; all possible thanks to basic industry.
With this vision, the Dutch government outlines a new perspective for a sustainable, climate-neutral basic industry in the Netherlands. The transition to climate neutrality requires great efforts from companies and government: both financially and in terms of cooperation, with an active coordinating role for the national government.
On the other hand, there are enormous opportunities for the Dutch economy and for the Dutch contribution to solving the challenges of climate change. With a transition from its own basic industry, the Netherlands can become the breeding ground and accelerator for sustainable industry worldwide and at the same time strengthen its strategic position in industrial value chains.
The Letter to Parliament is the first part of a two-part vision for industry in 2050. The second part will be focused at the manufacturing industry. The latter will be published after summer.
Use the momentum of this crisis to guide the economy in the right direction, argued participants of the Industrie in Gesprek online event. Incentives can create a more innovative, sustainable and circular process industry without being overly protectionistic about it.
Read this news item in Dutch here.
During this online event on April 30, the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT) discussed the “big questions of today” with its community. Using interviews, polls and chat messages, the panel members Marco Waas (director of R&D and Technology at chemical company Nouryon), Erik Pijlman (CEO of the circular cellulose platform Recell) and Tjeerd Jongsma (director of ISPT) discussed with each other and in addition another fifty guests about innovation and sustainability in the process industry.
Does innovation aimed at sustainability suffer under the corona crisis? “Innovation is still necessary,” is Waas’ experience. “Our factories are still running and I have meetings with international startups and scale-ups almost every day. You can maintain existing relationships well with Teams, building new relationships is more difficult. Nevertheless, I think that innovation will suffer least for the time being from the one and a half meter economy. However, this could be the ideal time to accelerate innovations.”
Pijlman sees this crisis as a good time to give more government direction to innovation. “Of course there was already a lot of encouragement, but that was too non-committal. The government could now provide stronger guidance.” In that case, the direction should mainly go towards a more sustainable and circular economy. For example, one of the participants suggested that the costs of recycling should be passed on to producers who use virgin material, rather than those who use recycled material. Another says that we need to take the time for the process: exploring new directions, bringing parties together and expanding visions.
Taxation versus stimulation
Tax measures can also stimulate innovation, such as CO2 tax. Pijl: “I think a CO2 tax is a very straight forward and fair way to stimulate innovation. It can certainly damage some sectors, but it mainly offers opportunities for innovations and new product-market combinations.” Jongsma thinks that a CO2 tax with the current extremely low oil price is not so effective, because it makes sustainable investments still more expensive than unsustainable investments. Waas would rather stimulate the demand side. “With the Renewable Energy Directive II [in which the European Union formulates objectives for sustainable energy, ed.], you create more demand for sustainable energy. That also creates fewer problems for international competitiveness.” Jongsma states that the government could offer a guaranteed price for, for example, sustainably produced basic chemicals such as methanol or naphtha. “The German government is considering offering this, similar to our SDE + scheme, so that you can sell raw materials back to the government. This guarantees that an investment will last.”
Should we become less dependent internationally? The poll illustrates a mix of opinions on this particular question. “We should not be overly protectionistic about it,” said Waas. “Globalization has brought much to the Netherlands. Now we can focus on a new economy and establish employment.” Jongsma thinks that a little more self-sufficiency is useful. “We also did this after the Second World War, by building up a large agricultural sector. We are still reaping the benefits of this.” Pijlman adds: “We are now struggling to produce simple things like face masks in our own country, so we have to ask ourselves whether we are doing the right thing. A circular economy means that you prefer not to drag your raw materials around the world. So first look at how you can organize your production in your own region or country.”
About this series
This Industry in Gesprek was the first online video event of a series, in which ISPT discusses current issues with partners. So it was a bit of an experiment, but it was received with great enthusiasm by the participants. “Very interesting conversation, I am very interested in a next meeting,” says one of the participants in the chat. “Good to treat so much in a short time,” says another. The following online events will take place on Thursday May 14 and Thursday May 28.
Hoe ziet de infrastructuur voor de Nederlandse industrie van de toekomst eruit?
Donderdag 28 mei om 15u00
Een belangrijke voorwaarde voor de energietransitie van de Nederlandse industrie is een infrastructuur die de uitrol van nieuwe technologieën ondersteunt. De Taskforce Infrastructuur Klimaatakkoord Industrie (Tiki) bracht op 13 mei een advies hierover uit aan de minister van Economische Zaken en Klimaat Eric Wiebes.
Conclusie: Nederland heeft een hele goede basis voor de infrastructuur die de industrie nodig heeft om grote duurzaamheidsstappen te kunnen maken.
Maar knelpunten zijn er ook. Waar liggen deze? En wat zien we als belangrijke kansen en prioriteiten om de industrie in haar transitieopgave succesvol te ondersteunen?
Dit en meer staat centraal tijdens de derde online paneldiscussie Industrie in Gesprek. Deze keer met panelleden Carolien Gehrels (ARCADIS), Ulco Vermeulen (Gasunie) en Tjeerd Jongsma (ISPT).
Andreas ten Cate
Andreas ten Cate is Programma Directeur Systeem Integratie bij het Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT). Naast zijn rol als Programma Directeur bij ISPT is Andreas actief binnen het TKI Energie & Industrie als programma manager Industriële Elektrificatie.
CIRCO is een programma voor bedrijven waarin je kennis maakt met de principes van de circulaire economie, kansen verkent voor jouw onderneming en naar huis gaat met een visie voor de lange termijn en een stappenplan voor morgen.
Industrielinqs LIVE is een digitale talkshow over actuele ontwikkelingen in de industrie.
The European process industry and energy sector are partly responsible for
causing climate change. But, on the other hand, they can also make a major
contribution to providing solutions.
The European Industry & Energy Summit strives to foster ideas, technology, plans & projects to address this challenge by bringing together all relevant parties and expertise from around Europe.
More information follows soon.
De invloed van de coronacrisis op innovatie in de industrie
Donderdag 30 april – 15u00
COVID-19 dwingt iedereen om op andere manieren te werken en heeft grote invloed op de doelstellingen van organisaties. We vragen ons af hoe de toekomst en “het nieuwe normaal” er voor de industrie uit zal gaan zien.
De algemene tendens is dat innovaties niet stil mogen komen te liggen. Toch is het voor alle betrokkenen zoeken en zitten veel organisaties vooral in overlevingsmodus. Dus hoe verder?
Donderdag gaan we – online – in gesprek om alvast een perspectief te bieden op innovatie in de nabije toekomst. Praat je mee? Registreer je gratis.
Annita wijdt haar professionele leven aan het realiseren van een biobased economy in Nederland en Europa. Ze is clusterdirecteur bij ISPT en innovatiemanager bij de Koninklijke VNP (brancheorganisatie van de Nederlandse papier- en kartonindustrie). Daarnaast vervult ze ook de rol van directeur bij het Dutch Biorefinery Cluster en voorzitter van het Biobased Circular Business Platform. Met haar diepgaande kennis, nuchtere kijk op de wereld en scherpe geest is zij de ideale persoon om de diepgang in dit gesprek op te zoeken.
Vice President & Director RD&I and Technology
Recell – A circular cellulose platform
Partner & CEO
Institute for Sustainable Process Technology
This year the Netherlands Process Technology Symposium was going to be held at TU Delft on 4-5 November 2020. Due to the uncertainties surrounding Covid-19, the event is now postponed to 2021.
However, in order to provide an opportunity for the Dutch Process Technology community to connect and exchange ideas, this year NPS17 will take a new form: a series of webinars taking place in November 2020, within the overarching theme of “Sustaining the future”. The webinars will also include pitch presentations for networking by PhD students and postdocs.
“Sustaining the Future” means developing new process routes, and re-innovating processes by applying known technologies across various industries. It is necessary to rethink the way industrial plants are designed and to bring engineering to the digital century to optimize process control.
- Wednesday 4 November, 15.00: Energy
- Wednesday 11 November, 15.00: Circularity
- Wednesday 18 November, 15.00: Water
- Wednesday 25 November, 15.00: Health, food and pharma
Sustaining the Future means developing new process routes, and re-innovating processes by applying known technologies across various industries. It is necessary to rethink the way industrial plants are designed and to bring engineering to the digital century to optimize process control. Examples include:
- Delocalizing the industry to save energy and other resources.
- Connecting processes.
- Using advanced/ remote process control to optimize processes for a better use of resources.
- Developing new process routes (CO2 as energy source or as chemical bond for further products).
- Re-formulating consumer products based on sustainable ingredients and with reduced health or environmental impact.
- Planning/ designing/ developing digitally to save resources and share knowledge all over the world.
- Augmented reality for knowledge transfer, more safety and connectivity.
Please reserve the dates in your agenda. More information will follow soon.