The goal of the study was to find the factors and mechanisms that underlie the process of diffusion and adoption of innovations. The preliminary study resulted in strategies and instruments that are used to stimulate the adoption and diffusion of energy-efficient lighting systems. In collaboration with Senter Novem a procedure was developed to disperse energy-efficient lighting in industrial buildings and depots.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg also performed similar projects in:
- Steam drying
- Lost foam technology
Van der Meer & van Tilburg have applied several session techniques in past projects, such as:
- Idea generation for the ICT sector in a particular region in the Netherlands
- Solutions for congestion charges (Ministry of Transportation)
- Congestion issues on the highways around Utrecht
- Development of product ideas for aluminium façades of constructions
Van der Meer & van Tilburg performed branch screenings in different regions for the:
- Metal & Electronics sector
- Information and Communication technology
- Medical Technology
Laser Centre Friesland has developed a competitive alternative for existing joining technologies, called the “4 kW Nd: YAG”-laser. Van der Meer & van Tilburg developed a business plan for the exploitation of this technology. Currently this activity is hosted by the University of Twente.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg also developed business plans for:
- Centre for Production technology and Automation of the University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht
- The exploitation of a recycling facility for plastic waste material
In several Dutch regions (Utrecht, Twente, Friesland), Van der Meer & van Tilburg were asked to assess business plans of start-up companies. In collaboration with the University of Twente a business development arrangement for entrepreneurs was carried out.
With an ISO 9001 quality management system, management has the tools to lead the company in an effective way.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg has provided an internal audit training for 9 participants at the Timberland Europe Distribution Center in Enschede. The training focuses on learning the skills for the internal audit team.
During the training all aspects of internal auditing were addressed, such as:
- Background quality management
- Purpose and content of internal audit
- Requirements for internal audit (norms and regulations)
- Audit planning, execution and reporting
- Follow up / improvement processes
During training, the participants put into practice the things they learned by business-oriented tasks.
Certification of European Welding Engineers
In order to guarantee the safety of welding constructions, there are numerous quality standards and regulations. To achieve safety in design, process, used products or control, the knowledge and skills of the responsible staff is crucial.
Therefore it is important to create international consensus on the required skills and competences and how these can be described and tested. The jobs that are considered most important in this context, are the welding engineer and the welding inspector. The demands for the job profiles are developed in the international Leonardo da Vinci project “Continued”, which is executed under auspicion of the European Welding Federation.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg were asked by the Association of Surface technologies of Materials to develop and implement an education project for the surface technology sector – the Competence Programme Surface Technology.
By means of company screenings the different job circumstances of engineers were mapped. Subsequently an inventory of the needs for knowledge and skills was made for a number of job profiles.
This project resulted in a new dual education programme for Surface Technology. This education programme is especially targeted at current employees in the surface technology sector. In case of sufficient work experience, current employees can complete this course in three years.
Having the right skills is essential for people who are employed in the sector of craft trades. To be able to perform well in crafts, the right combination of heart, mindset, and hands is necessary. De availability of qualified people is a basic condition to guarantee the quality of craft products and services.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg was involved in the development and execution of a project by the Dutch Board for Craft Trades to bring employees in six different sectors of craft trades to a higher qualification level.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg was responsible for the realisation of the dual training programmes and Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)-trajectories in this project.
In dual courses the education mainly takes place at the job site. These courses are tuned to the needs of the individual and the demands of the job profile.
In an APL-course the competences of a candidate are assessed and the content of the training programme is adapted to the missing competences. Starting point for the training programme were the job competence profiles that Van der Meer & van Tilburg developed in cooperation with the sectors at an earlier stage.
Creative Problem Solving encompasses tested techniques that enable you to adequately come up with solutions for practical situations and issues. In six steps diverging and converging techniques alternate each other continuously. This working method enables you to bend logical thinking patterns towards the desired results with the use of creative approaches.
Assigned by Prva Zvaracska a.s. (First Welding Company) Bratislava (SLO) Van der Meer & van Tilburg developed a training course for civil engineering technicians in order to introduce them to the creative thinking processes according to the CPS method. Besides background information and theory the participants are enabled to exercise abundantly with their own cases.
Training of consultants
Van der Meer & van Tilburg trained numerous Syntens (Dutch governmental agency for innovation) consultants in the use of creative techniques in their services. Also various professionals from large companies were trained by Van der Meer & van Tilburg.
The Iron Rhine is the railway that connects the ports of Antwerp (Belgium) and Mönchengladbach (Germany), which crosses the Netherlands. Since a significant part of this railway has been out of use, the Belgian government requested to reinstate it. The maintenance company ProRail assigned Van der Meer & van Tilburg to organize public participation sessions for residents and stakeholder groups involved with the Iron Rhine. These sessions where held for the study Environment Effect Report Iron Rhine, which was executed by the Dutch Rail Infrastructure Management. During these sessions residents and other stakeholders discussed on several issues and solutions for the railway route. Van der Meer & van Tilburg performed the task of independent session facilitator.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg also facilitated sessions for:
- Educational institutes; as a starting session for a company training and to determine educational programmes
- Research institutes: for the development and the clustering of research assignments
- Industry organisations; for the development of activities for members and other stakeholders
- Schiphol Airport; for the development of the new deck
- Governmental department; as a tool to interactively plan the strategy development and for the development of educational plans
- In order to start up projects and to explore future scenarios
- For efficiency improvement with cooperation of a large number of employees
- For setting up the internal logistics of a large beer brewery.
A feasibility study has been conducted for the mechanical separation of plastics from non-industrial garbage. Mixtures of plastics were shredded, washed and separated based on density. This resulted in digestible clean plastics with a purity of 99.8%. An analysis was made of the price developments of this re-granulate and an exploration study was performed on the application possibilities in the market.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg also conducted feasibility studies for industrial cutting (autogenic, plasma, laser cutting), photonics en separation of plastic mixtures with the use of the principle of reversed Jig.
Assigned by the University of Twente, Van der Meer & van Tilburg studied the possibilities to involve regional business networks in the TOP-arrangement (Temporary Entrepreneur Placements). Starting entrepreneurs were placed at an existing company. The company itself functions as an incubator, instead of the university. Potential entrepreneurs with a viable and well-balanced business plan were invited for an interview. Promising entrepreneurs were helped by the university in the start-up phase of the enterprise.
Support of Business Incubator Centre Bitola (Macedonia)
Van der Meer & van Tilburg was involved in the development of a start-up centre for new companies in Macedonia (former Yugoslavian Republic). In collaboration with the University of Bitola the development of curricula, train-the-trainer projects, training courses, and company screenings were supported.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg supported numerous companies with the implementation of their innovations. Several methods for the execution of innovation projects for companies were developed. Companies from almost every industrial and business services sector have been supported with innovation projects.
These sectors include:
- Metal sector
- Logistic services
- Construction and installation techniques, (micro)electronics
- Packaging and packaging materials
- Construction products (e.g. sand, cement, mortar, gravel)
The IPC-grant is intended to support long term innovation projects of SMEs. Participating companies get the opportunity to specify what kind of innovation they will develop.
Criteria for an IPC-grant are collaboration and knowledge transfer. An IPC-trajectory is conducted in collaboration with 10 to 20 companies. These companies share a common denominator, such as a branch, sector, region or technology. The projects are guided and coordinated by a central organization such as a sector association.
Development and direction of IPC’s with regard to Fibre Aluminium Laminates
In collaboration with the Aluminium Centre a preliminary study for an IPC was conducted which was focused on Fibre Aluminium Laminates (FAL). Subsequently the involved SMEs were accompanied and supported in the execution of the innovation plans and the administration of the grant.
A comparable project is conducted in the construction sector. This project is executed in cooperation with TFI (Taskforce Innovation) Utrecht and the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht. In the province of Flevoland an IPC is conducted with Technocentre Flevoland.
About 125 SMEs are currently involved in these IPC projects.
In 2011 new criteria were introduced for the IPC-grant. In collaboration with various sector associations, Van der Meer & van Tilburg is committed to assist SME companies to bring their innovations to life.
Branch organisations use knowledge position studies to map the possibilities that technologies and technological knowledge have for products, processes or services of entrepreneurs in their branch in order to enhance their competitive position.
A knowledge position study results in recommendations for ways in which the needs of knowledge from entrepreneurs can be met. In general these studies will be followed by activities aimed at the transfer of knowledge.
A knowledge position study consists of:
- the market developments where companies (want to) aim at;
- the current state of technology or technological knowledge within and beyond the sector;
- the needs for technology or technological knowledge of companies in the sector;
- the different possibilities to meet existing and latent needs and to strengthen the position in the market;
- a plan to benefit from new opportunities for companies within the sector.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg performed knowledge position studies on various subjects such as Life Cycle Engineering. Life Cycle Engineering can be described as a design process in which the maintainability and the sustainability of the objects are considered on forehand. The goal is to gain insight in the exploitation costs during the complete lifecycle of an object.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg also performed knowledge position studies for:
- Joining technology (for the Dutch Institute for Welding)
- Thermal Spraying (for the Association for Thermal Spraying Techniques)
- Fibre Metal Laminates (for the Aluminium Centre)
- Chimney sweeping (for the General Bond of Chimney Sweepers ASPB and the Dutch Board for Craft Trades (HBA))
- Risk management in Construction (for the Dutch Construction Association (Bouwend Nederland))
- Corrosion prevention and other ways to increase the sustainability of production means (for the Knowledge Platform Surface Treatments (KP*OT))
Knowledge needs study regarding connection technology
Van der Meer & van Tilburg performed company screenings in the metal sector to determine the support needs for joining technologies. The study was used as a basis for the development of services to meet the needs of companies in the sector. An important aspect of this project was the development of a website with valuable knowledge from past research projects. This project was assigned by the Dutch Institute for Welding in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht.
In addition, the knowledge needs of individual companies were studied and plans were developed to acquire this knowledge.
Research from the Dutch Construction Association shows that construction entrepreneurs generally have a need for support on professional business management, especially in the area of Human Resource Management. In order to meet these needs Van der Meer & van Tilburg developed a screening instrument for Techno Centre Utrecht: the Competence Scan.
The Competence Scan consists of two closely related parts:
- A qualitative, companywide scan:
The scan gives insight how employees translate company targets to their own performance on the job. Specific recommendations are made considering education, personal development and organisation of the company. The results are captured in a report.
Subsequently the possibility is offered to use a business coach who assists with the implementation of the report.
The project started with construction companies but moved quickly to “young” technology oriented companies and enterprises in the business services industry.
Fibre Metal Laminate (FML) is a new type of material developed by the Delft University of Technology, the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory and Stork Fokker AESP. Currently the FML type Glare® is applied in the Airbus A380. FML consists of thin layers of aluminium and glass fibre. These layers are embedded in a glue system. Because of the layered structure of the material it is possible to customize the plate material for specific applications. Advantages of FML over conventional materials are: low density, high pull strength and rigidity, low fatigue and high impact resistance.
There are opportunities for the new material beyond the aerospace industry. Research by Van der Meer & van Tilburg shows that it can be applied in road vehicles as well. The use of FML in the bodywork of trucks and trailers results in a significant reduction of the weight compared to currently used materials. The payload capacity of the trucks therefore increases and the energy use per transportation unit decreases. This results in advantages in terms of energy & fuel costs and environmental issues.
Ginaf Service enthusiastically performed an innovation project with regard to FML. The goal of the project was to give insight in the way FML could be applied on the bodywork of Ginaf trucks. Several tests were conducted which compared FML to traditional material. External advice was obtained to underpin decisions in design, material selection and joining techniques.
The construction was subjected to the ultimate test during the participation of the truck in the Dakar Rally in January 2007. Because of the extreme conditions this race was an optimal test environment. The results were amazing: FML showed itself to be superior to originally used materials. The main advantages were the the light weight construction, the high rigidity and strength, the impact and cracking resistance.
Results from the Dakar Rally proved that FML is nearly ready to be used in the ‘normal’ industry. The innovation project at Ginaf has contributed to a more wide-spread appliance of the material.
The extreme testing environment in the Dakar Rally provided lots of information about engineering, use and maintenance of the material. Also training material was developed in collaboration with the Aluminium Centre in Houten. This training material can be used in workshops for engineers, constructors, and producers. It is only a matter of time before new applications will be found for this material.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg was involved in the complete project, from the inventory of the possibilities for new applications of Glare® and related materials, until the implementation at Ginaf.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg assisted over 150 companies from several different sectors to obtain and maintain their quality and environmental certification.
Companies are guided with the implementation of ISO 9000, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and other schemes. Furthermore, Van der Meer & van Tilburg provides for periodic assistance and continuous support for the improvement of quality (Lean and Mean, efficiency, Total Quality Management).
Van der Meer & van Tilburg is also involved in the collective development of policy, quality and environmental certification of businesses. An example is the European Transport region Twente; representing the interests of forwarders, transporters and shippers.
Customer Performance Analysis
Van der Meer & van Tilburg has performed Customer Performance Analyses for several companies. In a CP-analysis the customer database, the market developments and the commercial strength of a company are researched. The results of such an analysis is used as input for the valuation of the company needed for mergers or acquisitions.
Market research for New Product Development
For diverse innovation projects Van der Meer & van Tilburg performed market research to support the development of new products. The results were used as input for the decision making process whether or not to invest in a new product.
Market research in industrial application of steam drying
In the steam drying process superheated steam is brought into direct contact with the product to be dried. The superheated steam serves for both the heat supply and the inclusion of the evaporated water. Condensation is avoided by making sure that the steam stays superheated during the process.
The process can also be carried out with superheated vapour of a certain solvent. Van der Meer & van Tilburg conducted market research for industrial applications of this technology.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg developed a dual education programme for the Sheet metal Processing Federation (Federatie Dunne Plaat). The end result was an innovative and attractive training course for employees in the panel processing industry.
The training course is suitable for employees from metal companies who want to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. After successfully completing the programme, every participant receives an official Bachelor diploma.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg conducted a study on the desired competence profiles and was responsible for the coordination of the project. The project was executed in collaboration with specialists of the research institute TNO, the Eindhoven University of Technology and several other universities.
Furthermore, Van der Meer & van Tilburg developed and supported new educational programmes and training courses for:
- Innovation consultants
- Trade crafts
- Employees in surface technology
- Maintenance and management
- Project management
- Quality engineering
- Creativity and innovation
In the modern interpretation, open innovation is perceived as an open system with a continuous flow of ideas and business in every phase of the innovation process.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg gives advice to individual companies to achieve open innovation. For instance, a medium sized construction firm in East Netherlands is involved in an innovation cluster on the topic of result-oriented asset management. Furthermore, this company participates in a cluster of highly innovative entrepreneurs. Van der Meer & van Tilburg helps the company to establish the necessary principles for open innovation: trust, goodwill and open communication.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg is also involved in collaborative Open Innovation projects for a dozen companies. In cooperation with Saxion University of Applied Science, best practices are sought for crowdsourcing in the SME sector.
Managementgame Open Innovation
Van der Meer & van Tilburg developed an innovation management game that enables participants to get acquainted with the management of open innovation. The main principle of any management game is learning by doing. In this case, this is achieved by enabling participants to apply theoretical principles in practical situations.
Management game: basic or custom
Because of its general approach to innovation, the innovation game can be used in a variety of companies, which makes it an affordable alternative to custom solutions.
However, the innovation game has the option for additional customization. For instance, customer specific cases, assignments or events can be included. For example, Van der Meer & van Tilburg adjusted the standard game to a scenario in which fossil fuel was no longer available.
The innovation game lets the participants get acquainted with the traditional innovation process within a company. After a few gaming rounds the aspects of the Open Innovation method are introduced into the game. In this way participants experience the differences between the open innovation method and the traditional method. This experience leads to an excellent introduction to open innovation and its consequences for the practical situation of the company.
Furthermore, Van der Meer & van Tilburg offers a coherent and balanced custom made solution which is based on the standard management game.
The innovation games of Van der Meer & van Tilburg are suitable to be used in education. In a short amount of time students get to experience what the consequences are of their decisions. This results in an accelerated development of the student’s competences. It is possible to create a direct connection with other theoretical courses. Because the game is based on general innovation and management theory, the practical situations are suitable to be specified to connect to other courses.
The European programme CRAFT (Research for SMEs) supports small groups of innovative SMEs in order to collaboratively solve technological problems. The projects have a relatively small time span and are aimed at the innovation needs of the participating SMEs. The participating companies are selected on how well their research results can be commercially exploited. The research is outsourced to multiple research institutes, companies and universities from different European countries.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg carried out the management of the JODIS (Joining Dissimilar materials) project. In this project, the process of the joining of steel and aluminium with the use of laser technology was researched.
The ambition of the Province of Friesland combined with the innovation strength of the entrepreneurs in the Northern Netherlands is proven to be good soil for innovation.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg directed a project that resulted in the stimulation of practical innovation projects. This project was carried out in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce Friesland, Syntens (governmental agency for innovation), the combined universities of Applied Sciences in Friesland, and the Province of Friesland. Within these projects knowledge is used from the University of Twente.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg also executed projects on regional development in cooperation with:
- SNN, a development corporation for Northern Netherlands (Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe)
- Province of Flevoland: founding & development of the Knowledge transfer Centre for Construction and Industry (KCBI)
- Region Eindhoven: Execution of an innovation project for local businesses
- NV REDE: execution of the Stimulus Grant (grant to stimulate businesses to seek external guidance)
- Leader project Leanova: Stimulating innovation and setting up practical innovation projects with companies in the Northern Netherlands
Assigned by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Top Spin International (TSI) performed an international benchmark study on spin-offs from knowledge institutions. The aim of the research was to map the way public Dutch knowledge institutions, universities and research centres deal with commercializing knowledge by means of spin-offs. The research was conducted at 14 universities and15 research institutions in the Netherlands. With the use of a benchmark of the spin-off practice of 7 foreign universities and foreign national spin-off policies, the Dutch situation is placed within an international perspective. The countries where research took place were: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Besides the 101 employees of the knowledge institutions, also outsiders were involved in order to get a reliable and objective outcome. These were 26 spin-off entrepreneurs and 27 representatives of regional development organisations. In total 153 respondents participated in the research.
From the research, Van der Meer & van Tilburg concluded in which way Dutch universities and knowledge institutions deal with spin-offs. The best practices were distilled and described.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg was also involved in the following spin-off activities:
- Pilot project for the development of a methodology for the restructuring of big companies with the use of spin-offs in the Czech Republic.
- Screening of potential technology areas of ECN for spin-off possibilities for existing business and newly developed businesses.
- Workshop New Product Development for technological spin-off companies in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
One of these instruments was the training “Becoming an Entrepreneur”. During this course participants had to develop a business plan for their own company. This business plan was presented to and discussed by a team of specialists and entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs that actually started their company could apply for financial assistance from a start-up fund. This fund gave them an interest-free loan that should be paid back from the second year of the company’s existence. With the payback of these loans a revolving fund was created. Starting entrepreneurs were supported by a mentor. Starters that needed research and development facilities were able to use the instruments and knowledge from the universities of Applied Science.
In the province of North Brabant a large-scale study was performed on the way the region could prepare for transfer to a knowledge economy and a knowledge society. This research was done within the framework of RITTS (Regional Innovation and Technology Transfer Strategies and Infrastructure). Van der Meer & van Tilburg executed company screenings in order to measure the efficiency of the innovation system in North Brabant.
Strategy development at De Boer (nowadays De Boer Spanlift BV)
Van der Meer & van Tilburg assisted De Boer with the development of an clear business strategy. On a regular basis Van der Meer & van Tilburg organized follow-up meetings with the management team and created updates for the strategy plan.
Strategy development at Spinder Dairy Housing Systems and Production Equipment
Spinder has a national and internationalpredominant market position. The company develops its own products. In thisprocess there is a close collaboration with specialists of cattle housing, suchas several testing farms and practical education centres.
Van der Meer & van Tilburg assisted the company with the development of a technology strategy. The main question was: which technologies do we haveto master ten years from now in order to be able to keep the market leader position?
PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) is a technology that is used to deposit a thin layer of a vaporized substance on a surface. Under normal pressure conditions this process is comparable to the growth of hoar-frost in winter: the substance adheres to the surface as soon as it comes into contact with it. Practically there are several variants of this process. For example, the technique is used in the creation of CDs and DVDs. It can also be used for the coating of metals to protect them against corrosion.
In the so-called Flexicoat project (6th framework programme of the EU) several companies, research institutes and sectoral associations, work together to make the PVD technology available for SMEs. As part of the dissemination and valorisation activities in this project Van der Meer & van Tilburg conducted a roadmapping process. This process has lead to a publication on the way PVD can be exploited by SMEs.