Oct 10, 2011 0
Rotterdam – Innovation Estafette, October 4, 2011
Like a Disneyland for thinkers, the old Van Nelle factory in Rotterdam was the location of the Innovation Expo 2011, subsidized by the Club van Maarssen. My understanding is that “estafette” means relay, as in a relay race.
I went to this innovation convention, and I’m happy to say that it had elements that I’ve not seen before. The event, held annually in Rotterdam, was at an old tobacco factory/complex. It was so interesting, I would go again.
One of my favorite phrases is adaptive reuse. This old factory was put to use as a host environment, with positive effect. The event was fairly large, but had an energy that I haven’t seen at other expos – this was a “working exposition.” This means to me that people were attending classrooms, networking, brainstorming, and partnering with other companies, looking for strategic matches.
There were so many things going on, I couldn’t keep track of all of them, but here are my impressions.
The building is an the old “Van Nelle” cigarette factory adaptively repurposed as an exhibition center. The architecture is post WWII industrial, but the interior is well adapted to convention center use. Screens and lighting made the atmosphere interesting and almost cosy.
roving brainstorming teams
There was a group of students, wearing yellow jerseys, that went from booth to booth, brainstorming with different companies, looking for novel solutions. It was sponsored by the “club van delft” and it seemed to be quite an innovation. In addition to brainstorming, the results go into their “think tank” for future use or reference.
robotics and undersea engineering
The company Seatools BV, specializes in building robots that build undersea cabling and pipelines. The robot is over 9 meters long, but they had a small mockup that showed how it worked. They had a very efficient way of modeling the robot so that the model control and software works directly in the actual robot – smart thinking and engineering.
brainstorming and ideation
The artist Boos van der Vlist, has a workshop called “Omleiding volg je intuitie” where she leads groups through different ways of visualization and ideation to solve their problems.
I spoke to Ir. T. De Lange of IDcars, a Delft company specialzing in electric cars. He told me about the benefits of DC energy transmission, and the advantages of having a smaller, lighter, cheaper power conversion inside the automobile. In a similar industry, the company D-Incert provided information (technology, statistics, forecasts, etc) on electric road transport in Holland.
The ability to predict weather requires lots and lots of computing power. Here was a 3D demonstration of weather modeling, put on by the Technical University (TU) Delft. I though it interesting that they can see weather 2 days ahead, and can calculate meaningful results a maximum of 2 weeks or so in the future. The photo is blurry because it’s a 3D image.
Its been said that chess, is in its form a game, its essence an art , and in its execution a science. Therefore, I like the fact that there was a chess board outside. In my consultancy, I use the themes of chess to illustrate various principles of general strategy. So, it always makes me feel at home when I see a chessboard. I also like the fact that people were brave enough to play chess in public.
There were many things other than the exhibition booths to keep you entertained. There were people on stilts, a flying flea circus, a woman dressed as a cake (Marie Antoinette?), and a percussion band. The drums were useful to mark off sections of the expo in time, because when those drums beat, they were do loud and dramatic, you had to stop because you couldn’t talk over the sound.
The food was great. Sandwiches and fresh fruit during the day, and a smorgasbord of warm entrees during the evening. They also had great coffee from these machines that also ground the beans from fresh. Wonderful! The service was friendly too. There were concierges available to keep you from getting lost in the huge factory location. Oh, and they had – chocolate!
classrooms & live tweeting
Live tweeting works! Mira Mero, a sustainability resource, did the live tweeting for the event. The tweets were visible on all the screens as well as on the Twitter hashtags #ines and #catwalk. The catwalk was the location of classrooms running all day, across several subject matters.
the big hall
The large hall was the location of the major presenters. The Economic Minster, Maxime Verhagen was there, as well as the top three presenters for an innovation prize.
The cockpit of the Aero-rider, “BusinessBike” (they should call it “Business Cycle” get it?), was very nice and appropriate for the rainy weather of Holland. There were a couple of very nice electric bikes, as well as a motorscooter with a shell made from what looks like pressed wood.
The TU Delft again, this time with simulation games that help business people and engineers solve real life problems.
debate and discussion
There were discussion groups everywhere, including a “debat-aROna” where there were readings and debates over various topics such as trends in sustainability, space and environmental development, etc. This was one of the main points about this expo, people and companies were hard at work disseminating innovative ideas, inviting discussion and debate, and otherwise networking.
clever things to do with computers
The Rijkswaterstaat, and IBM, put together “Crisis Buzz Map”. This is a system that collects relevant information from Twitter, Facebook, G+, etc, analysis the data, and creates crisis maps for citizens, and the Rijkswaterstaat. Another company made an Augmented Reality application that works on the iPad that scans in QR codes allowing you to find locations of interest (from food to emergency, to work) that can be read in realtime via the iPad.
business wear and recycling
I worked in fashion as a photographer long enough to be fascinated by haw people wear clothes. They signal affiliation (teams wearing the same colors), authority (uniforms, suits), and function (catering outfits, etc.). It was nice to see such variety at the expo. Not just clothes, but the idea of clothes “from cradle to cradle” – recycling. There we companies that specialized in making bags out of the materials from old KLM uniforms. And there was a magazine called “Stof” about recycling, and Terperium, a company specializing in recycling textiles.
All images in this blog entry are available for free, at higher resolution, by contacting me at this link, or by sending a comment in the form below.
Join the conversation with me on Twitter at @charles_consult.
Weblinks mentioned in this blog entry:
Innovatie Estafette 2011
Club van Maarssen (sponsors)
Mira Mero (live tweeting, “Impact on Sustainability”)
Burosa (workshop discussion)
club van delft (brainstorming, think-tank)
Seatools BV (engineering, robotics)
RWS/IBM (Crisis Buzz Map)
Guus (kennis van het platteland)
IDcars (electric cars)
D-Incert (electric transport)
EPEA (recycling, cradle to cradle)
Texperium (textile recycling)