More than 200 companies from as far away as America, Hong Kong and Israel, have entered their solutions for the Sustainable Industry Challenge, Chemport Europe edition, a major competition for companies in the green chemistry, green energy, and recycling sectors. In this challenge, five industrial companies from this region are searching for concrete solutions to render the chemical/energy sector more sustainable. Economic Board Groningen is organising the Sustainable Industry Challenge together with partners from the region to attract fast-growing companies to the Northern Netherlands. Companies with ideas for solutions had the opportunity to register until the 11th of November. More than 200 companies from 33 different countries were eager to take part.
Participants have been recruited by the Unknown Group, an innovation agency working with a team of global experts to recruit the scale-ups from all over the world and invite them to participate."We're delighted with the number of entrants," says Akke Groenewoud, member of the Economic Board Groningen. “And we are especially enthusiastic about the quality of the applications, resulting from Unknown Group’s scouting process”. In the application process, scale-ups elaborate on their solutions and how they can be applied to the challenges of the partners, showing how their solution can contribute to the region. “We see that most scale-ups are not necessarily interested in the extra funding, but rather they are looking for strategic partners to help them grow their company and gain more exposure. It is fantastic that companies from all over the world are interested in our region and the issues that lie ahead in the field of sustainability, and thus are taking a serious step towards cooperation with companies already established here through these challenges” Akke Groenewoud continues.
Selection process and finale
Over the coming weeks, the entrants will be discussed together with the five industrial companies that are looking for solutions: Teijin Aramid, Suiker Unie, ENGIE, ESD-SIC and BioMCN. The idea is that 5 to 10 companies, per challenge, are invited to the two-day event on the 7th and 8th of January 2020. During these days, they will be introduced to these five companies that have become affiliated to the Sustainable Industry Challenge. "In addition to finding the right technical solution, the team working on it is just as important for a successful collaboration", emphasises Jorinde Wilbrink of the Unknown Group.
The grand finale will take place on the 8th of January 2020, during the New Year reception of the Groningen Seaports in Delfzijl. Over the course of this evening, national and international scale-ups will compete against each other in the exciting finale. The winner will receive an additional 100,000 euros to be spent on the pilot of their proposed solution for the region.
Attracting companies to the region
The Sustainable Industry Challenge serves to challenge companies to find concrete solutions for increased sustainability of the chemical/energy sector. "The main objective of the Sustainable Industry Challenge goes much further", explains Groenewoud. "It is very valuable to establish relationships with those companies that have applied and been selected. How fantastic would it be if we could link these innovative companies from all over the world to companies in our region.
We will therefore be inviting the 50 selected companies to come to Groningen in January, and will arrange meetings with around 15 to 20 other companies from the region. The underlying train of thought is that long-lasting relationships can arise, and that a number of these companies may eventually establish themselves in this area. Working together towards increased sustainability, extra business and more jobs. We shall be continuing the process even after the challenge. We are aiming to form as many relationships as possible, and hope that a number of the scale-ups will eventually move to this region.”
Economic Board Groningen is the initiator of the Sustainable Industry Challenge, Chemport Europe edition, from 2019-2020. Partners are the Campus Groningen, NOM, Groningen Seaports, and the provincial authorities of Groningen and Drenthe. All the organisations are part of Chemport Europe, the ecosystem for a green chemical sector in the northern Netherlands. The shared goal of all parties in this ecosystem is to accelerate the green economy and to put the chemical sector of this region on the global map. This is also in keeping with the target of the Eemsdelta industrial agenda, to be CO2-neutral by 2050. A central issue within Chemport Europe is cooperation, as the targets cannot be achieved alone. There is a production cluster in Delfzijl that focuses on intermediate chemicals, a cluster in Emmen for polymers and materials, a knowledge and innovation cluster in Groningen and an important cluster for the agricultural sector in the hinterland, focusing on green ingredients and with know-how in agricultural logistics and bio-refinery. The aim is clear: to jointly develop a green chemical sector.