As the Managing Director of Brainport Industries since 2011, John Blankendaal has been working towards creating a more entrepreneurial and value-driven approach to cooperation among over 120 high-tech companies in the Brainport Industries network. His fascination with the high-tech industry and its challenges and opportunities has motivated him to work towards creating a supportive ecosystem that can foster innovation, competitiveness, and sustainability. As John explains, Brainport Industries’ mission and goals are centered around facilitating the companies in the network to become more innovative and competitive by promoting collaboration and adding value to all stakeholders involved in the network. This collaboration is also essential for creating sustainable value chains. It requires a shift away from the old mindset of outsourcing based on price and cost, towards a more collaborative and entrepreneurial approach that emphasizes adding value and building long-term relationships. John has been working towards this transition for many years.
Brainport is renowned for its ability to create complex and advanced innovations, making it a top technology region, especially in deep-tech. In addition, the region is unique because it has a collaborative approach between different sectors and stakeholders, such as companies, institutes, education, and the government. This creates a positive working climate where information, ambition, and challenges can be shared. This strong collaboration is essential for creating sustainable value chains.
Brainport can benefit from becoming the high-tech sustainability capital of the world by creating a positive image as a region with a high-tech ecosystem that is successful in making a difference to the sustainability challenges that society faces. The region benefits from attracting creative and innovative businesses and individuals who want to join the high-tech sector and make a significant impact. Taking steps towards sustainability can be beneficial to both the region and its residents.
In our strategic roadmap, we have identified five priority themes. Sustainability is one of the big themes, and we have identified the impact of the supply network on sustainability as a key challenge. We are working towards creating a shared understanding of this impact and making it feasible to measure the material flow and energy use. We are also developing a set of tools and methods to assist companies in achieving sustainability goals.
Companies face two main challenges: how to start their sustainability journey and how to determine the success and feasibility of sustainable solutions. We need to help them overcome these challenges by showing them examples and methods through creative workshops. We also need to make the impact of sustainability more visible and measurable for them.
Last year we collaborated with Fontys to create a toolbox for sustainability. Our goal was to assist SME companies in taking the next step towards sustainability. We put it on the agenda, created a roadmap, and set up the toolbox with various tools that many companies could utilize. Additionally, we did projects with ImpactX, where we brought companies together to work on challenges and find solutions. We designed workshops and activities, which proved to be a successful way of working.
We can use the knowledge available at technical universities to create, for example, sustainable energy solutions that can be economically viable and profitable. This requires investment in new materials and technology. We can no longer rely solely on fossil fuels and must invest in new solutions to make sustainable energy a profitable business case. It's important to combine both ecological as well as economic goals to achieve sustainable development that benefits both the environment and society.