Boundless mind

At Amsterdam Science Park, we believe knowledge has no borders. That’s why you’ll find cutting-edge institutes, top-class facilities and business incubators in one convenient location. You’ll meet motivated students, innovative researchers, talented scientists and adventurous entrepreneurs – all in an environment where it’s easy to work together. Cross-disciplinary initiatives and holistic thinking flourish. Ground-breaking research projects become successful spin-offs. That’s the strength of Amsterdam Science Park: connecting boundless minds.

Marinus Wisselink

Marinus Wisselink is Company Secretary of Tata Steel Nederland BV, based in IJmuiden, which has recently opened its own office at Amsterdam Science Park. 

“My role at Tata Steel Nederland is to ensure that our board keeps its strategic focus. In addition, I work for the Amsterdam Economic Board and specifically for the manufacturing industry cluster –which Tata Steel helped found three years ago and has played a leading role in ever since. The purpose of the Amsterdam Economic Board is to drive innovation through enterprise, government and education. It was the focus on connecting industry and education that led us to contact Amsterdam Science Park Director Leo le Duc and Willem Fokkema of Amsterdam Innovation Exchange (IXA), which has a base at the park."

“It’s a tremendous opportunity that Amsterdam Science Park is offering traditional industry”

“Amsterdam Science Park offers a knowledge package that is highly relevant for manufacturing industries today, with its technological developments, experimental business models and start-up mentality. To increase awareness of this potential among the manufacturing industries in the wider Amsterdam region, we started to hold regular meetings to connect industry people with science park people. We’ve already had six meetings, and we hold them at the end of the working day. We cover topics such as Big Data or the Internet of Things, and each session we have a few speakers – normally two from the manufacturing industry and two from the science park and an informal meet-and-greet afterwards. It’s a great way for people to get an idea of the possibilities of collaboration, and they go home with some new thoughts and relevant contacts."

“Innovation is the only way to survive in the manufacturing industries”

“As a result of these meetings, we got in touch with the science park start-up Scyfer, and now we’re working on a project together – our first Amsterdam Science Park partnership. Together we are working on improving the steel inspection process, by applying Scyfer’s state-of-the-art machine learning technology. Tata Steel is extremely innovation-driven – this is the only way to survive in the manufacturing industries. We make and sell high-quality steel, for example to the automotive industry – if we took a commodity approach, we would become a sitting duck."

“The only way to long-term success in the steel industry today is through R&D and customer focus. At Tata Steel, we have our own R&D-department of 500 people, but even so we can’t do everything ourselves. Here at Amsterdam Science Park, it is the specifically digitally driven research that appeals to us, covering a wide range of up-and-coming fields. There’s so much going on here that last January we took the step of opening our own office at the park. Of course, we’re not the first – some very big names are here already, including Unilever and Shell. It all goes to show what a tremendous opportunity the park offers to traditional industry: disruptive thinking, cutting-edge knowledge, and a large pool of bright, ambitious people. I would even argue that it’s important to have a presence here if you want to be seen as a viable science and tech employer."

“While Scyfer is currently our most developed collaboration at the park, we have some others too. With Storm Company, we’re working on sensors for our enormous storage tanks. These will allow us to measure the levels of the tanks and use the data to load and unload supplies. Then with Stream Computing, we’re making software to speed up our simulation programming, enabling all programs to become faster by a factor of 25 – effectively meaning that we will be able to fit a day’s work into just one hour."

“It says a lot that even our Indian R&D director is impressed with Amsterdam Science Park. The park is really good at bridging the gap between theory and valuation of this knowledge. And the start-up mentality is very important for us. It means there is always the possibility of failing and learning from it – the fail fast, fail smart idea – which is almost impossible to replicate in a large organisation. We could never have started Scyfer ourselves. Our industry can’t do without scientific exploration. Without research, we cannot innovate in processes and products. It’s a natural partnership we have with the park. Start-ups here are business driven, and the science park people who speak at our events aren’t ivory tower academics, they realise they must tell a practical story or lose the audience."

“To be seen as a viable science and tech employer, it’s important to have a presence here”

“It’s important to remember that our economy here in the Amsterdam area is more manufacturing and technology driven than we realize. In our region, the manufacturing industries account for roughly 40% of total export value. One job in the manufacturing industry creates two or three jobs in the service industry. At Tata Steel, we are the biggest employer in the province of Noord Holland, and our focus is on remaining the most cost-effective and sustainable steel-producing company we can be. Steel making involves roughly 15 factories or process steps, and we therefore generate vast amounts of data – so there is plenty of raw material to use in optimising our production. Technological innovation and added value will help us resist the impact of cheap Chinese imports."

“There are terrific careers to be made in technology”

“As far as criticisms go, I do think that – just like the hundreds of large, medium and small companies that are the silent manufacturing base of Amsterdam – the science park should seek more attention for its activities. It should also be careful to maintain its focus – sometimes there’s a tendency for good things to be spread too thinly in the Netherlands.

“Also, the curriculum of technology-driven education programs could probably be further developed and improved: we need more technically educated people for the entire manufacturing industry. The world is shrinking rapidly, globalisation is only just beginning, and there are terrific careers to be made in technology. These are the professions of future. That’s why there’s such a buzz here, and it’s why I love being here. I have an office in IJmuiden but I come here as often as I can – I often go to the restaurant Polder and work on my laptop. My children are still quite young, but this is the place where I hope they will study one day.”