‘I studied mechanical engineering at TU Delft in the 1980s; a magical time in which I also learned a lot outside of my studies. The programme then mainly involved theory and I thought this was a major shortcoming. You really need to get to grips with technology, feel it and play with it; that’s when you create new insights and solutions. The best students ended up working as consultants or in banks, and I always thought that was such a waste. These days I notice that entrepreneurship and being a self-starter are gaining in popularity. If we link these initiatives to the challenges of our region, we can attract companies to this new, smartest port.
RDM is a place for pioneering and innovative manufacturing industry. It’s a practical space in which technology comes to life and where various worlds converge: technology, the port, companies, students, research and innovation. I enjoy connecting these various worlds and people together. I’m just as happy in the corporate world as I am in the creative one. And that is what RDM is known for: creativity. Creating something from nothing is the most difficult thing there is. We should have a lot more respect for this. Here too, start-ups create something from nothing.
The port’s image sometimes comes under pressure; for instance, the societal discussion about fossil fuels and CO2 emissions. The port has traditionally been an area in which people grasp opportunities. That’s why, for me, the smart port is: a port full of opportunities. RDM aims to attract the smartest people for this. They realise that the biggest opportunities for sustainability and efficient working lie here. For a smart port it’s crucial to be flexible and to have a broader perspective.
People say that jobs will be lost through automation, but I don’t think this will be the case. If you use new technology in a smart way, this will result in a new manufacturing industry. You see this here too; people devising and operating new machines. That’s how new employment is created. I’m an optimist and I think that, in the end, more jobs will be added than will disappear. However, the jobs will change and we will need to change with them.
The new technologies and unlimited opportunities of technology combined with design are what make this a great era. X Laboratory uses robot arms to construct simulations for the offshore industry. That’s real science fiction and they started out in space exploration too. That such a company chooses for RDM says something about the business potential of our area. You also see that it becomes possible to design more and more organically. For instance, start-up Concr3de uses sustainable concrete for 3D printing of complex components for construction and for the port. They pitched a proposal to restore the burned out Notre Dame using rubble from the cathedral. They’ve even already printed “le stryge”, the famous devil. It’s fantastic that this kind of creative manufacturing companies are given the opportunity and space in the port and at RDM.