Jan Geurts van Kessel | Eastern Netherlands region liaison officer

‘Showcase our great work more effectively’

Green hydrogen is alive in the eastern Netherlands. HAN University of Applied Sciences offers professionals a course in how to become a hydrogen expert and many ‘hy’-tech entrepreneurs are taking an interest in new hydrogen applications. ‘We’d just like to showcase our great work more effectively.’  

Home to the provinces of Noord-Brabant, Gelderland and Overijssel, the eastern Netherlands is a large and very diverse region. ‘What makes us unusual is the fact that we don’t have a large industrial cluster,’ says region liaison officer Jan Geurts van Kessel. ‘But when it comes to hydrogen, there’s been plenty happening here for years. SMEs and new start-ups are now taking an interest in all kinds of innovative applications for green hydrogen.’  

Local applications 

Geurts van Kessel lists a series of examples. They include one company with a background in natural gas that is producing and trading in green hydrogen. Another company is specialising in hydrogen propulsion systems for buses. He himself is involved in a HAN-based start-up that aims to use hydrogen for congestion management on the electricity grid. ‘All of them are local hydrogen applications, something that’s very typical of our region.’  

Theme-based route and hydrogen lab 

The HAN is one of the education institutions that is supporting the development of knowledge. Not only in terms of the education it offers via a theme-based route, but also by bringing researchers, students and professionals together in the hydrogen lab. ‘The plan is to extend the theme-based route to include secondary vocational education (MBO). After all, while graduates of higher professional education (HBO) are the ones designing the hydrogen systems, it’s the MBO professionals who do the work.’  

Additional knowledge 

The plan is not to introduce a separate study programme on hydrogen, says Geurts van Kessel. ‘This is all about additional knowledge for professionals. Especially in the transition phase from fossil to non-fossil, they need to have a good understanding of both worlds, if only in order to be able to work safely.’  

Communication skills 

The main challenge involves finding sufficient numbers of people to do the technical work. ‘There’s so much happening in our sector and the local solutions involving green hydrogen are fantastic. But we fall short in terms of communication skills. We really would like to showcase our great work more effectively.’  

‘Across every region, I’m seeing people who are determined to make an impact and have an incredible capacity to learn’

Focus on inspiration 

It should come as no surprise that the regional roadmap prominently features communication and the need to make work in the technology attractive. ‘We have four key pillars of which “inspiration” is number one: in order to attract and retain young professionals, draw the attention of SMEs to schemes for hydrogen innovations and show society what we’re working on as a sector.’  

Pillars of the regional roadmap 

‘Other pillars in our roadmap include boosting the ecosystem by means of collaboration based on a sense of ownership,’ continues Geurts van Kessel. ‘And learning and development: broadening existing education, ensuring that continuous learning tracks are in place and collaborating across the Netherlands. Then there’s innovation: jointly working on research proposals as a single ecosystem and sharing facilities to ensure that the cost of innovation can be controlled for SMEs.’ 

Engagement and interest 

Geurts van Kessel sees GroenvermogenNL as an important impetus for further development on the four areas of focus in the regional roadmap. ‘Across every region, I’m seeing people who are determined to make an impact and have an incredible capacity to learn. You don’t see that attitude everywhere. At our Human Capital Agenda (HCA) Safari Day on Friday, 17 March, I also noticed how much engagement there was from the regional liaison officers and other attendees. People showed interest and asked appropriate and critical questions. I have every confidence that the GroenvermogenNL HCA programme will be a success.’  

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Jan Geurts van Kessel
Liaisonteam Oost Nederland