This is Part 6 of the series Campuses in North Brabant. In eight weeks, we will publish the profiles of all 8 innovation campuses that were mentioned in the recent study by Buck Consultants International (BCI). Every Tuesday we highlight one of them. Today we focus on Green Chemistry Campus Bergen op Zoom. Here are all the articles that have already been published.

The Green Chemistry Campus in Bergen op Zoom is one of the twelve “real” campuses in startup phase in the Netherlands. Its ecosystem of open innovation accelerates biobased innovations on the cutting edge of agro and chemistry and supports companies that contribute to a more sustainable world.

Biobased innovations  

Located in the Delta region, also known as “the European forefront of biobased innovations”, the Green Chemistry Campus in Bergen op Zoom is a vibrant ecosystem of innovation in biobased economy. At the Campus large companies, SMEs, knowledge institutions, and government are working on scaling up new sustainable materials and chemicals for building materials and the packaging industry. Renewable raw materials such as elephant grass, biodegradable waste, and wood residues form the basis for this.

“We are one of the top locations for companies who face challenges in their business in the area of green chemistry. We provide different services and help them grow their business. We do all that from the focus point of green chemistry and we focus on specific markets – construction and packaging,” Petra Koenders, Campus Director, explains. 

Companies that establish themselves at the Campus have already proven that their idea for a biobased product works at a small scale. At the Campus they work towards the next step – proving that their product can be produced at a larger scale. “We facilitate biobased and circular enterprises to scale up their circular economy or business innovations,” Koenders says.

Accelerating biobased business

The Campus boosts biobased companies’ success by offering first-rate facilities, market-driven business support, and open innovation in the value chain. “We organise open discussions and networking events. We also have different facilities. One example is our general lab facility which is open to all companies. We initiate various projects in which companies work together. We also host a research program – Biorizon, which aims to make commercial production of bio-aromatics feasible for industrial partners by 2025.”

An important milestone for the Campus is the new demo facility that enables entrepreneurs to scale up their biobased innovations. Koenders highlights: “Last week we celebrated the technical completion of our demo facility. At least 3 companies will go to this facility from 1 September. The demo facility is important for entrepreneurs because from a chemical point of view they cannot immediately grow a complete installation. They need to start up and scale up and that is where they can use the demo facility.”

Together towards circular economy

Enterprises that join the Campus community become part of a versatile network of government institutions, SMEs, big companies, and knowledge institutes. “We have four types of offers for companies that want to join us,” Koenders explains. “First, we have a community offer when the company is not physically situated at the Campus but is connected to the Campus. At the moment there are 15 such companies in our community and it is growing very fast. Second, there are flex companies, they rent a desk at the Campus and at the moment there are 10 such companies. Third, we have cubicles – this is when entrepreneurs have their company based here. There is one such company at the Campus. We also have companies in our new demo facility.” 

According to Koenders, companies should consider setting their business at the Campus because it offers a wide range of assets to entrepreneurs: “We have permission to do chemical research and chemical development. We have access to the facilities of the whole Delta region, which is known as the top location for biobased innovations. So entrepreneurs can benefit from other top locations and facilities. We work in cooperation with many knowledge institutions and have access to students so if companies have questions, they can easily help them out. For example we work together with Wageningen University & Research, Hogeschool Zeeland, Avans Hogeschool, and Hogeschool Rotterdam. These are educational institutions from the whole region and we are connected to them.”

The Campus is in its startup phase and its focus for the near future is on growth: “Growth but not from the Campus’ point of view but from our entrepreneurs’ point of view,” Koenders clarifies. “We will work to make sure we are able to help our entrepreneurs in their requests and development and in doing so help the region in the transition to a more circular economy. A lot of companies face legislation issues and other problems in their transition phase and we will start a continuous discussion to tackle these issues by putting them on the table of decision makers in this field.”