Green PAC is an open innovation centre for (green) plastics, fibres and composites.
This good practice addresses the issue of coordination of innovation (and finance) within a local champion cluster, in response to worries about long-term viability of the plastics cluster in Emmen. It is an example of how intervention at the local level can increase innovation and effectiveness of funding, a main topic of the RELOS3 project. Emmen was one of the founding partners of this initative, with stakeholders such companies (SMEs), education and government.
Green PAC is an open innovation centre for (green) plastics, fibres and composites, initiating and facilitating business-driven knowledge development. Effectively all stakeholders in this industry are involved.
- shared promotion of the (sustainable) plastics cluster in Emmen
- readying proofs of concept ready for large-scale production, not only by technical support , but also support in practical organisation
- support for start-ups (in connection with education)
- shared projects on applied research in emerging technologies such as 3D printing in metal, using heat from melting granulate in pre-heating and using plastics in concrete.
- an innovation broker as a match maker, and informing about external funding though EU programmes such as ERDF and Horizon2020 and other sources.
All activities are project-based, and usually set up in an agile manner in order to be able to cover for all kinds of new developments, which are not uncommon in research projects.
Green PAC has currently an annual budget of about € 600.000 and about 4-5 FTE in staff attached to it. Of course, many more resources are available though the private and public partners that support the innovation centre.
Evidence of success
Most companies involved have launched new products that are built on innovations arising from Green PAC, this resulted in a 5% increase of employees in the sector according to provincial statistics, against a downward trend for the Netherlands as a whole.
Moveover, 'brain drain' was stopped and employees are now better prepared for their future.
Concrete products are biobased PET (BioPET100 by Cumapol) and biobased diesel and glycerine by SunOil.
A main challenge encountered was making certain that a sense of urgency was present to collaborate within the Quadruple Helix, and the importance such cooperation has on an innovation ecosystem.
It is also not easy to define strategic goals when companies are more interested in short-term effects.
Potential for learning or transfer
We feel that this practice can inspire other public authorities to take charge, and to start developing meaningful alliances within the Quadruple Helix that can have an positive impact on innovation initiatives that may exist.
Particularly important in our case was making certain that all potential in our peripheral area of the Netherlands was used. Not only in companies and specialisation for education, but also in being able to offer real job opportunities to young people with the highest level of education, in order to stop them moving away from the area.
Furthermore, this good practice shows how a local authority can provide the linking pin and create perspective for an area that concentrated particularly on bulk chemistry and are now working on high-value-added chemical products based on renewable resources. In other words, the focus is now on the circular economy.