Europe is interested in Zuid-Holland’s Fieldlabs

Brussel, 14 June 2016

Europe faces major challenges in nutrition, healthcare, logistics, mobility and energy, and the related sectors have substantial transformation issues, in which ‘Smart Industry’ forms a crucial component. In the process, Regional Fieldlabs ensure cross-pollination of the sectors and build bridges between knowledge and the market. On 14 June 2016, at the House of the Dutch Provinces in Brussels, Zuid-Holland fieldlabs such as Freshteq (horticulture) and Green Village (Energy) showed how they could make major contributions to meet the European challenges. Members of the European Parliament and experts of the European Commission and European network organizations indicated their willingness to cooperate with Zuid-Holland in this field, to ensure that the European instruments meet requirements to develop Fieldlabs and learn from each other.

During the meeting, it became clear that Zuid-Holland is a European hotspot of high-tech companies and knowledge institutions. The high score in innovation programmes shows that the region belongs to various top clusters. That explains why the region does not focus on one or two of these priority clusters in the European Smart Specialisation Strategy, but on strengthening the cross-overs of the strong clusters. Regional Minister Bom-Lemstra: “Innovation networks in certain sectors or clusters offer our Fieldlabs the opportunities they require. They boost the economic renewal with their cross-over cooperation and their approach of social issues such as Growing Old being Healthy and Active (Gezond en Actief Ouder).”

D66-Euro MP Matthijs van Miltenburg, who welcomed the Economic Platform Zuidvleugel (EPZ) delegation in Brussels, explained Fieldlabs’ importance. “European Structure and Investment funds can be deployed more strategically on fieldlabs, to focus on excellence. Invest in projects that can make a real contribution to economic growth”.  He welcomed the recently announced cooperation between Zuid-Holland and Brainport Eindhoven as THE smart industry regions in The Netherlands.

Zuid-Holland’s Fieldlabs representatives explained that digital innovation is an important characteristic of a ‘smart industry’, and ensures that new products are extremely client-oriented and that the speed at which innovations are made is incredibly high. This necessitates creative solutions, which in turn require cross-overs and new ‘business’ models, in which start-ups and SMEs play an important part. New initiatives pop up in many places. To guide that process properly, the Zuid-Holland testing grounds are to join forces, among other regarding Europe, to ensure that the European instruments, currently sectoral by nature, match the fieldlabs’ requirements better.

Euro MP Lambert van Nistelrooij supports the initiative. The essence of his recent publication “The Road to the Valley” is that more room should given to such major clustered initiatives that help Europe gain momentum. In his opinion, this is beneficial to both sides: “not only the rich regions and clusters benefit, but by sharing knowledge and by cooperating, we support the potential development in weaker regions better than before”. A representative of the European Commission’s DG Region also expressed his support during the meeting with a practical and pragmatic approach. Initial contacts have been made with the European Network of Living Labs, to enable cooperation with other regions as well.

“This fieldlab-event is a successful continuation of the European EPZ action line”, says Bas Verkerk, Mayor of Delft, who officially leads said action line. “increased cooperation and concentration of strength of the Triple-helix in the European arena on current issues is vital to increase the competitiveness and prosperity in the region.”