New TNO liaison officer Joëlle van den Broek

I am Joëlle van den Broek, and I have joined the Eindhoven Engine team as liaison officer for TNO, succeeding Dick Koster.

I have been working in the field of Innovation for 30 years in various domains and roles. The common thread in my work is bringing together parties, people, knowledge and ambitions to realize new products and system innovations for complex social issues. Interdisciplinary or even cross-sector collaboration is often required and the issues are certainly not only technology related. My background as an Industrial Designer (TUD) helps to build the creative and surprising bridges that are often needed to take an innovation to the next steps.

Orchestrating Innovation

In my current position at TNO as Principal Strategic Consultant, I advise authorities, companies and my own TNO board about the opportunities and possibilities of new smart developments in Traffic and Mobility. Together with them, I set up large public-private programs to realize these possibilities. At TNO we call this ‘Orchestrating Innovation’.

This is also what I want to bring to the Engine: see what is happening in the outside world and initiate new collaborations by connecting the issues that partners have to knowledge and technologies. And, in so doing, accelerate new innovative solutions.

“My motto is ‘always look with a fresh look outside – in”

Joëlle van den Broek, TNO liaison officer Eindhoven Engine

Because of my broad background and network, both outside and inside TNO, I can connect TNO colleagues and the issues they are working on to the approaches taken by the Engine and external private and public parties. And vice versa, I expect that with the refreshing approach of the Eindhoven Engine, I can bring added value to the innovation themes of my TNO colleagues!

Finally, a few words about myself: I am an Eindhoven importee, for over 20 years already. I am married and have three children. Also in my spare time I like to envision new things and like to spend time outside in the countryside or in my garden.

My motto is ‘always look with a fresh look outside – in’. Create impact by focusing on the problem that needs to be solved, work together to bring existing technologies and new insights to each other. Then you can come up with great solutions!

Accelerate by working together

At the height of the corona pandemic, we used no less than 4.2 million disposable isolation gowns per week in the Netherlands. During a ‘normal’ week in healthcare, an average of 770,000 isolation gowns end up in the trash after one use.

During the first lockdown, the great dependence on production from East Asia soon became clear, especially when it comes to protective clothing for healthcare. With a great shortage of masks, gloves and isolation gowns, among other things, the national consortium had to search for the right materials. Not an easy task, because the origin and degree of protection of many protective materials was unclear.

In order to be better prepared for crisis situations in the future, it is important to tackle this problem at its core: a long-term solution so that we will not be surprised again.

With the strong sustainability ambitions that our government has set for 2030, an economic and circular solution is needed. In order to not miss out again, security of supply and production closer to home is the goal.

Fast innovation through collaboration

Fast innovation and joining the right forces have therefore been the starting points for Eindhoven Engine, TNO, Eindhoven University of Technology and HAVEP in taking up the challenge of developing economically and circularly sustainable medical isolation gowns. In this so-called Triple Helix collaboration, the business community, government and education and research institutions join forces to innovate quickly. The strength of this successful collaboration lies in the openness and transparency between the parties and the short communication lines that they have with each other. The parties also work side by side and constantly learn from each other, which makes them equal in this collaboration. Bringing together the market, researchers and a concrete demand from healthcare and government provides a realistic picture of what the end result should look like. In this case: a sustainable isolation gown for healthcare which can be worn at least 50 times and recycled after its end-of-life.

Entering the second phase

Eindhoven-Engine-TNO-HAVEPThe parties involved have now successfully completed the first phase of their innovative collaboration on behalf of the government and the report of the feasibility study has been submitted. At the beginning of June, it will be announced which parties are allowed to continue their research in phase two of this government tender based on the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) scheme. In this second phase, the feasibility of the product will be further tested and various cases will be trialed on the market.