Innovatiecluster Drachten official Smart Industry Field Lab

News | January 27, 2020

'ICD dynamics bring companies and talents together'

The companies of Innovatiecluster Drachten (ICD) are extensively digitized, produce smart and very flexible. In addition, they conduct numerous educational programs in collaboration with knowledge institutions. The 'field lab' status that the ICD is allowed to use is a valid confirmation of their exemplary function for the future manufacturing industry.

He is the type of knowledge worker who did not stay in Fryslân after his studies. His professional life takes place all over the country. ,,But I still have family in Wijnjewoude and I visit the Northern Netherlands regularly. Among other things because Innovatiecluster Drachten does beautiful things," said Program director Smart Industry and director TNO Egbert-Jan Sol. On behalf of Smart Industry, founded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate and consisting of TNO, the Chamber of Commerce, Koninklijke Metaal Unie, trade association FME and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Sol will present a plaque on Thursday 23 January that corresponds to the official status. from Smart Industry Field Lab. Because that's what Innovatiecluster Drachten can call itself from now on.

Practice environment

Field labs are practical environments in which companies and knowledge institutions develop, test and implement Smart Industry solutions in a targeted manner. They also form an environment in which people learn to apply these solutions. In addition, they encourage and strengthen collaboration with research, education and policy. The Netherlands has 45 Smart Industry Field Labs, in which more than 500 companies, knowledge institutions and governments work together. Examples in the Northern Netherlands are the testing ground for the latest generation of mobile internet 5Groningen, shared smart factory Technologies Added in Emmen and the collaboration of the Northern manufacturing industry Region of Smart Factories.


Sol sketches a not very rosy but realistic future scenario for the technical manufacturing industry and sees field labs as necessary help for companies to get through the next 10 to 20 years well. ,,For those who want to get started with digitization or other smart-industry techniques, it can sometimes be difficult to tackle this in a practical way'', explains Sol. “A Smart Industry Field Lab helps and encourages the application of smart technology and digitization. For new business opportunities, for example. But getting here is complex. Due to changing legislation and the effects of the past economic crisis, we are now dealing with a large group of workers who are retiring. At the same time, far fewer young people are entering the labor market. This will create scarcity in the technical professions over the next 10 to 20 years. And what do you do as an employer?'' Current employees of about 40 years old have followed their training without internet and therefore often lack digital skills. “But they are the ones who now have to get started with the Internet of Things (IoT). This problem is greater than the scarcity on the labor market, because these people will continue to work for you for at least another 25 years.” Sol therefore believes that productivity must double in the coming years to make up for the shortage of technical personnel. ,, Today's forties will be retired in 25 years, so today's twenties will have to do double work in 25 years. This means further training of current employees and a field lab such as Innovatiecluster Drachten can help with this. The ICD has the dynamics that are needed for this: to retrain current employees' skills and ensure that technical talents come along."

Share in confidence

The changes are happening so fast, no one can do it alone anymore. ,,That's why you have to share knowledge and experience with others and the companies of Innovatiecluster Drachten are quite good at that,'' says Sol. “In America, companies mainly innovate top down and keep everything to themselves. We do that differently in Europe. The Netherlands is a real innovation country, but not top down. On the basis of mutual trust, we share knowledge in the workplace and we assume that the other person will not cheat you. After all, it is better to collaborate, share knowledge and innovate than compete with each other.” In the Eindhoven region, for example, according to Sol, cooperation is naturally good, which is why this region has grown very fast. ,,And you don't light each other up, because you meet again on the football field, in the pub and in the church. This phenomenon is more important than subsidies and also exists in the form of a network or ecosystem in the Northern Netherlands. And Innovatiecluster Drachten plays a leading role in this.”


More information about Smart Industry Field Labs.