Innovation and Sustainability Shine during Mini-Symposium “Smart and Circular in the Region”

News | February 22, 2024

In an inspiring meeting that took place recently, approximately 70 participants came together for the mini-symposium “Smart and Circular in the Region”, organized by Innovatiecluster Drachten (ICD) and Ynova. The event, marked by a series of engaging presentations and interactive sessions, highlighted the crucial role of innovation and circularity in regional development.

The afternoon kicked off by Joost Krebbekx of the ICD and Jacqueline Hofstede from Ynova, who warmly welcomed those present. Their introductory words set the tone for an afternoon full of insight and inspiration.

Floris Jan Sander of Rabobank opened the series of presentations with an in-depth analysis of the economic prospects, highlighting how Southeast Friesland stands out as a growth region through innovative cooperation. His presentation, based on the report “The economy is struggling in most regions”, sketched a picture of the future in which seven dimensions are crucial for a future-proof economy.

Professor Erik Heeres from the University of Groningen took over with a fascinating overview of Smart & Circular initiatives in the Northern Netherlands. His story about the Smart Circular Alliance Northern Netherlands, Innovation Hub East Groningen, and BioBTX Delfzijl, underlined the dynamics and innovation potential in the region.

Arnoud van der Vaart of Noria Sustainable Innovators showed how sustainability is being practically addressed by monitoring and cleaning up plastics in our waterways. His projects in the Northern region prove that sustainability and innovation can go together perfectly.

Jelmer Terra and Menno Draaistra, on behalf of Green Digital, highlighted the crucial role of his company in recycling old ICT equipment. With a focus on sustainability and innovation, he demonstrated how Green Digital contributes to reducing electronic waste by giving old devices a new life. This approach not only underlines the value of reuse in the circular economy but also highlights how technological innovations can lead to environmentally friendly business models. Terra's presentation provided insights into the methods and processes behind recycling ICT equipment, and how this has a positive impact on both the environment and society.

Jeroen Duijghuisen of Baril Coatings gave a fascinating presentation about his company as a certified Common Good company specialized in sustainable coatings. He shared his passion and motivation for sustainability and circular entrepreneurship, and how these principles are integrated into the core of Baril Coatings. Duijghuisen's story highlighted the company's innovative approaches in developing coatings that not only provide long-lasting protection but are also environmentally friendly. His presentation showed how sustainable coatings contribute to reducing the industry's ecological footprint and how Baril Coatings is leading the transition to a greener and more sustainable future.

The symposium concluded with a look ahead ECGIC24 International Conference, which will provide a platform for further exploring sustainable and equitable regional development. Jacqueline Hofstede from Ynova Innovation explained Future Regions Program that promises to be an important step towards a more sustainable future.

The plenary dialogue and networking opportunity at the end of the afternoon provided participants with the opportunity to exchange ideas and explore new collaborations. The enthusiastic responses during and after the event reflected the shared ambition and commitment of those present to contribute to a smart and circular region.

This mini-symposium marks an important moment for Innovatiecluster Drachten and its partners, paving the way for further innovation and sustainable growth in the region. With a strong focus on collaboration, knowledge sharing and practical applications, the cluster continues to play a crucial role in shaping the future of the region.

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