Looking back and ahead
The course of TKI Water Technology
The TKI Water Technology programme is gaining momentum in 2014. In consultation with businesses and end-users, KWR has about 20 projects underway. The projects are successful, the programme themes are being broadened and collaborations are being sought with other TKI programmes. With a focus on the circular economy, in 2015 the programme will take the opportunity to reach out to international markets.
“Innovations must be oriented in ways that ‘Netherlands Ltd.’ gets something out of them.”
Within the Water Top Sector, TKI Water Technology is the environment in which business, government and knowledge institutes conduct research on the basis of shared funding and risks. “Following the establishment of the TKI programme, about 15 percent of our projects are carried out as public-private partnerships,” says Jos Boere, KWR’s member of the TKI Water Technology Programme Board.
“Collaboration with businesses and end-users is not new to our organisation, but it has increased sharply. This makes demands on our researchers. On the one hand, it means sharing knowledge and, on the other, reaching agreements on newly-developed knowledge when commercial interests are at stake.” For Boere 2014 has seen a number of highlights: TKI projects that attracted a lot of publicity and were successfully followed up. “Our strength lies in the fact that we house many specialisations under a single roof: hydrology, lab specialties, processing techniques, health-risk assessment. And we want to expand further – within TKI Water Technology as well – to encompass sustainable energy techniques, for example.”
Demand-driven and cross-sectoral
The top sector policy is directed at demand-driven innovations. “It is industrial policy, focused on the stimulation of welfare and economic development,” says
Willem Buijs, CEO of Hatenboer-Water and the SME member on the Top Team Water. “We have to attune technology development more to the market. That’s why we’ve identified themes that answer societal concerns like food scarcity and urbanisation. Innovations must be oriented in ways that ‘Netherlands Ltd.’ gets something out of them.” The importance of good themes is echoed by Jan Peter van der Hoek, chair of the TKI Water Technology Programme Board. “Up until now, the accent in ‘Water for All’ has been on water technology itself. Now we’re going to broaden the scope to include the recovery and reuse of materials from the water cycle. We want to make a contribution to the circular economy.” But the definition of the new themes also involves keeping a close lookout for opportunities for cross-sectoral collaborations. “As TKI Water Technology, we have a lot to offer TKI Horticulture & Propagation Materials and TKI Energy. And the interest on their side is also quite evident.”
“We have a lot to offer TKI Horticulture & Propagation Materials and TKI Energy”
On the map internationally
“Both Buijs and Van der Hoek recognise the importance of KWR within TKI Water Technology. For Buijs, “you can, as a company, have all sorts of innovative ideas, but you have to have the means of testing them. The professionals at KWR have broad experience in research and development.” Van der Hoek perceives a shift from “knowledge” to “expertise” in knowledge generation: “Technologies are increasingly tested in practice, and that’s a good thing. Ultimately, businesses need to profit from the innovations, and export opportunities need to be created.” Buijs, the entrepreneur, also sees the necessity of maintaining an international perspective in the developments. “The Dutch market is too small. When considering the programme’s themes, we go for those subjects that could put us on the map internationally.” In 2015 that will be the circular economy. “The thinking behind this resonates strongly with us,” says Boere. “The circular economy is more than a hip term for sustainability, in must also carry economic weight. It is a point on the horizon where we all know we should be heading; the only thing we don’t know yet is how and at what pace. Within TKI Water Technology we don’t only react to questions as they arise, we also proactively seek them out in the context of the circular economy.”
© 2018 KWR Watercycle Research Institute
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Manager Water Systems and Technology