Dutch Technology Week only a celebration in Eindhoven? No! Any place where high tech is held in high regard can join. And so, already for the fourth consecutive time, Drachten is coming to the party with Innovation Cluster Drachten, a partnership of 16 companies, 3200 employees, who together have 50 product innovations per year. Alongside Drachten, the High Tech Discovery Route on 20 May this year will also take in Roden, Assen, and Sneek.

Of course, there will be plenty of 3D printers to play with, but attendees can also test night vision devices and mixed reality smart glasses; there is a hydrogen-powered race car, there is an ICD solar boat, and there are demonstrations and guided tours every half hour. Those who are interested in the world of high tech and want to feel how it works will be satisfied”, says program manager Joost Krebbekx, who is responsible for the activities of the ICD. “Normally you see such a factory only from the outside. Now we will not only throw the doors wide open but also let the visitors participate as much as possible. It is a chance to show how enjoyable technology is.”

 

 

“In this region, we make sure that you do not have a job, but a career”Joost Krebbekx, Innovatiecluster Drachten

The cluster members often organize tours, usually at the request of a school or another group of interested parties. “We call those the high-tech safaris, and with that, we have been able to gather a lot of interest in our activities. DTW has never before been so big. Therefore, we can give something back to our region, because the region always supports us immensely.”

The 16 members of the cluster all have their specific values, says Krebbekx. “But as a group, we can do more. For example, when acquiring expensive machines, when organizing events or jointly conducted Research & Development.” Recently, a 3D metal printer was purchased for approximately half a million euros. “We can do that together, but we would never succeed alone. Now everyone can experiment on that machine to their heart’s content. In this way, it has really become a research party, that thing never stops.”

The cluster organizes 40 activities annually, and the combined R&D budget is approximately 5 million euros. However, the most important aspect of the collaboration, according to Krebbekx, is perhaps in the realm of ‘human capital’: cooperate and connect, we call that. In this region, we make sure that you do not have a job, but a career. We see the staff shortages in our sector slowly but surely increasing, so we are preparing for it. For example, by going collectively to specific job fairs, or by offering second or third jobs. Imagine, you, as an employee, were finished with the company where you got your first job. Then there is always another company within the cluster that has a job for you. By working skilfully together, we can make such a transition smooth. That is also what I hear back from affiliated companies: sometimes you lose a valuable employee, but there is also always something good in return.”

Every year there are about 120 vacancies and 160 internships within the cluster; all the more reason for a smart staffing policy. Krebbekx: “For the time being we are still managing to fill those places. And what I notice, despite the shortages, the quality of the candidates alone seems to increase. Evidently, we have something good to offer here.”

 

Where, when and what?
This year the Discovery Route takes in a tour of the north of the country so that a ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse at a real High tech company can also be seen there. This will be held on Saturday 20 May in Drachten, Roden, Assen and Sneek during the Discovery Route of Dutch Technology Week 2017.

Discovery Route

The High Tech Discovery Route starts at 11 am at the following locations:

Drachten BD                     Marconilaan 6

Delta Intruments             Kelvinlaan 3

YP Your Partner               Ampèrelaan 1

Whisper Power                 Kelvinlaan 82

Roden   VDH Products    Productieweg 1

Sneek   Kwant Controls   Voltastraat 3

Assen    Resato                   Duitslandlaan 1

At BD you will get acquainted with modern and innovative solutions for medical microbiology. Whisper Power will show, alongside the solar boat that students sailed last year in the Dutch Solar Challenge, a multitude of high tech energy systems. With YP Your Partner, you can experience ‘augmented reality’ and view the impact of ‘big data’. Delta Instruments will show how you can see if the cow is happy or not through its milk. VDH Products will allow you to do all kinds of measurements and tests using sensors. Kwant Controls will show you how to control a giant ship with one joystick. And at Resato you can see how water cuts through the thickest metal and how cars are fueled with hydrogen.

There is also a high tech market at BD in Drachten where all the companies in the Innovation Cluster will make a surprising high tech presentation. At YP in Drachten, there will be a high tech start up business market.

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About the author

Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.