Innovation is in our DNA

News | October 9, 2015

Innovation, innovation and innovation. Divorcing Philips director in Drachten Rob Karsmakers (54) wakes up with it and goes to bed with it. “In the Netherlands and in Europe we are very good at it. With smart industries, smart production processes and techniques, you have the chance to compete worldwide. That's a must, but it's also fun. Winning isn't bad."

Karsmakers opened things up and put the employees first. He mainly focused on attracting new talent, training and retaining them in order to be able to build for the future. The location must be attractive for that, he realized. Karsmakers therefore worked on innovation. The University of Groningen, the universities of applied sciences, the province and the municipality were brought in to make innovation a success at all levels. This led to the establishment of the Innovatiecluster Drachten, to which about twelve companies are now associated. In addition to Philips, these include BD Kiestra, Variass, Whisperpower and YP Your Partner.

Karsmakers: ,,In the beginning I had the feeling that I was pulling a dead horse, but it worked. Innovation is not a matter of a year, rather ten years, but we are well on the way. It is now in our DNA. The recognized innovation hubs were in Eindhoven, Twenthe and the Randstad, among others. The North was always an empty spot on that map. We are in third place in the latest ING report. The cluster shows that the region has a reputation for innovation.” The effects are noticeable, according to the departing location director. “Attracting talent is becoming easier, we receive unsolicited applications, bring them in and give them the opportunity to develop for a number of years. They don't necessarily have to stay with Philips, it's fine if they choose another partner within the Innovation Cluster."

The emotion of success is important.” Drachten offers plenty of opportunities, says Karsmakers. “We do a lot ourselves. Product and process innovation, research and development, we have it all here. As a result, everyone speaks to everyone, from the operator to the highly skilled. That is an enormous incentive to make innovations a success.” Employees are invited to come up with improvement proposals. Six years ago there were hardly any, says Karsmakers. "Now there are so many of them that we can't even process them all." (Source: Dagblad van het Noorden)