“There is more than enough innovation in the North”, is the message of high-tech company Resato to visitors of the Dutch Technology Week (20-25 May). The company, which employs 120 people, was founded in 1991 in Roden, Drenthe, but moved to Assen – 20 kilometres away – three years ago due to lack of space. Still in the north, very consciously, because “that’s where our roots are“.
Resato is an international leader in high-pressure technology. The company produces water jet cutting machines that can cut anything in parts, high-pressure test systems with liquids or gases, and, since 2016, Resato also started building filling stations for hydrogen vehicles. To demonstrate this, the company is opening its doors to the public on the last day of Dutch Technology Week, Saturday 25 May.
Students often look to the west of the Netherlands for a job; technical companies in the north are not as well known as those in the west, says Resato marketing manager Sven Reiffers. “During the Dutch Technology Week, we want to show that a lot of people are needed here as well. There is plenty of talent in the north of the Netherlands, and we would like to keep them in the north as well.”
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The programme consists of two parts, that Saturday. In the morning, in the Resato building, there is the High Tech Career Competition, where speed dates are used to link students to the technological companies of Innovation cluster Drachten, for an internship or graduation project. For a company like Resato, this is certainly a bit of a competition, because there’s always a need for talent there. In the afternoon, Resato shows its own activities to the visitors.
The north is high-tech
The north is increasingly becoming a high-tech region, says Berend Henk Huizing, spokesman for the Innovation cluster in Drachten. In this cluster, to which Resato belongs, 19 high-tech companies work together. They jointly recruit personnel, share expensive devices such as an industrial 3D metal printer and come up with solutions for difficult (future) technical issues.
“The innovation cluster has a great network,” says Huizing. The cluster is in contact with vocational schools, colleges and universities in the region and with sector organisations and local and regional authorities. For example, students from Groningen visit the cluster companies as part of their studies. The cluster also organises high-tech safaris in which students from various technical study associations (from Delft, Groningen, Eindhoven and Enschede) visit the companies. “And afterwards we bring them back home”, Huizing laughs.
For many companies, such a cluster is very attractive. Huizing: “Large head offices abroad say: it’s so beautiful what’s happening there in the north of the Netherlands that we want to establish ourselves there.” Yet not everyone knows that the north is such a high-tech region: “This has not always been promoted here. Here people are modest, we don’t easily shout out loud how good we are.”
But still, there are some big companies. Take Philips in Drachten, for example: the largest Philips location in Europe. Resato also fits in nicely with this picture: internationally leading, where the focus on hydrogen technology has helped the company even more in recent years. Resato marketing manager Reiffers: “We firmly believe that the hydrogen market has a bright future.”
The fact that cars can run on hydrogen may not be new, but until now it still sounded like something futuristic. Yet there is already considerable growth in the number of hydrogen filling stations. At present, this is still primarily the case on the sites of companies that are already making use of the technology, but there are many more to come, says Reiffers. And that means: work to be done for Resato, which is developing these filling stations.
It is not yet possible to start a hydrogen filling station for consumers, because there are too few hydrogen cars on the road. At the same time, there are too few filling stations to be able to switch to such a car as a driver. However, it is only a matter of time before consumers also drive such a car, Resato expects. For example, Bosch, one of the largest suppliers to the automotive industry, recently announced that it is skipping the battery production and is investing heavily in hydrogen.
Team Forze as a promoter
The potential of hydrogen is also shown by team Forze, a Delft student team that has been building racing cars on hydrogen since 2007. The students see themselves as ambassadors of the hydrogen cars. That is why the students will also be present at the opening of the Dutch Technology Week on 20 May, where they will be showing their newest, pink racing car (affectionately called: ‘Forze VIII’). They will give a presentation on hydrogen and take part in a panel discussion.
“The goal of team Forze is to show the potential of hydrogen,” says Operations Manager Joris Vlasblom, who is involved in the events that Forze is participating in. “We show that you can even race competitively on hydrogen.”
Forze is an initiative which Resato from Assen is also happy to contribute to. The company, therefore, supports the Forzeteam with knowledge and material. “The students help us with the promotion of hydrogen. From our side, we support them in fulfilling their mission. We do something for each other”, says Reiffers. “And by testing their cars, our employees also learn. That’s how you keep each other informed.”
Joris Vlasblom from Delft is also happy with the cooperation: “Hydrogen is stored in the car under very high pressure. That car has to be able to do much more than a car that only takes you to work every day. So you also need more knowledge of technology to do that.”
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