We dare to be open

A column by Steven Lak, chairman of the port, logistics and industry association - Deltalinqs and the Rotterdam Port Promotion Council

“We live in an open source era; sharing knowledge, operating in networks and continuous innovation are absolutely key nowadays. For me, the port of Rotterdam is a melting pot of entrepreneurs who embrace this. Entrepreneurs who time and again aim to develop the best and most sustainable logistics solutions and constantly try to achieve the most cost-efficient production in highly integrated industrial clusters.

In my perspective today’s port can no longer solely distinguish itself through traditional factors such as volume, plain growth percentages and location. Other ports can lay claim to one or more of these factors as well. Scale helps, of course. But the real decisive factor here is being best-in-class: in the market, in logistics, in profitability, in sustainability etc. It is the full range of port companies, the port authority and connections - the total mainport - which makes the difference. And within this whole complex, numerous individual entrepreneurs each have something unique to offer the market.

One example here for me is Rotterdam’s leading role in terms of LNG. The port is in the vanguard of new developments aimed at establishing LNG as a widely used, clean ship fuel in Europe. This is achieved by cooperating with other ports, initiating new international legislation, creating room in the port for new LNG developments and much more. But there are also individual entrepreneurs like Gerard Deen who was the first to commission an LNG-fuelled inland barge and shipping company Anthony Veder which is leading the way in small-scale LNG transport. These factors combined (along with many others) are the ingredients which will transform Rotterdam into Europe’s LNG hub in the immediate future.

We Dutch have a reputation of being somewhat reserved when it comes to highlighting our distinguishing points. For example in respect to the outstanding new innovations which are constantly being introduced by our port entrepreneurs. The common adage in the Netherlands is ‘act normal’. In my opinion, the Change your Perspective campaign therefore constitutes a welcome break to this trend. Be good and tell the world about it! After all, we live in the open source era. The port is a pre-eminent example of this and the world has to – better: must – know this and benefit! Of course, this will spur copying behaviour among competitors. But as a first mover, Rotterdam always has a natural advantage.

We therefore dare to be open. I am convinced this is the basis for excelling in growth: for the port as a whole, for the companies within our port and for our customers!”


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