CompoWorld: an innovative approach to innovation and economic development
Introduction Seven years ago a Netherlands delegation visited Lockheed Martin to investigate business opportunities in connection with the Joint Fight Striker (JSF)/F35. Participants in the delegation were Fokker Landing Gear, NLR (Dutch Space & Aeronautics Laboratory) and representatives of the Flevoland region (Province, Investment Agency). During this visit a vital coalition was born in a triple helix configuration (private, public, knowledge) focussing on composite technology. After this visit the Municipality of Noordoostpolder and the Windesheim University in Almere, both part of Flevoland, joined this vital coalition. The market potential of composites technology was confirmed in a market study of 2011. This study concluded that the vital coalition in Flevoland had “golden” opportunities for further development, especially in the combination of aerospace knowledge and business opportunities and local Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s) with a joint ambition in composite technology. Master plan CompoWorld All these ambitions were translated into an Operational Program Compoworld, which was managed by a foundation CompoWorld, supported by all parties of the vital coalition as well as local SME’s. The Master plan CompoWorld contains three lines activities. The largest parts is an innovation program both for larger projects as well as SME’s. The second part is the connection between (vocational) training and the demands of businesses on the labour market. The third line is business development, which consists of promotional activities (www.compoworld.nl), an annual congress and efforts to attract composite technology activities to northern Flevoland. The Masterplan activities are financed by regional authorities (50%), contributions of knowledge institutes, companies and schools (45%) and sponsorship contributions (5%). Total budget for the period 2012-2015 is € 4,5 mln. Results The CompoWorld Master plan has initiated 11 innovation programs. Two of these project have resulted into a pilot plant at the NLR Composite location in Marknesse, two other projects have resulted into a successful application of composite technology in the infrastructure digging machines, a project launched with a SME innovation package has resulted in a sustainable mobile cleaning machine for shopping carts and baskets. In the area of education and training CompoWorld has delivered an education package for vocational technical training as well as a Masterclass Composites. The project is well underway to establish a lector ship (research facility for practical applied research) for higher education in Flevoland. The business development activities have led to an annual composite technology congress in Flevoland, but also to increased employment with companies in Flevoland, both established and new, in the amount of 50 Full Time Equivalents (FTE) end of 2013. It is expected that this will increase to 250 FTE end of 2015. Best practices Improved partnership between NLR and participating companies. This partnership has led to a pilot plant at NLR Marknesse. The pilot plant is established with a 20 year perspective, and will enable companies to prove the technological and economic viability of a combination of engineering, materials and production technology. The first customers of the pilot plant are aircraft landing gear development and production, as well as offshore infrastructure providers. Insourcing of SME innovative creativity with larger companies and NLR. The application of composite technology in the design of digging machines for infrastructural projects, is a successful cooperation of engineering capabilities, production technology and customer demand. Cooperation between product innovators and composite companies. Due to continuous marketing and acquisition efforts, innovative entrepreneurs come to CompoWorld. These entrepreneurs are able to translate the opportunities that composite technology can offer, into concrete fast to market products. The Cleanforte, mobile cleaning device for supermarket carts and baskets, is the prime example.