The Green Chemistry Innovation Lab (iLab) in Bergen op Zoom was opened this summer: a business accelerator for bio-circular ideas with market potential. Starting innovative companies (TRL 1-4) that focus on green chemistry can go here.
Shortly after its establishment, two start-ups already registered: Bionative Industries, which makes water-soluble plastic substitutes from starch, and designer Don Kwaning, who develops packaging and building materials from the Pitrus plant.
Don Kwaning, who studied at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, accidentally discovered the Pitrus in Drente: a proliferating weed that the Forestry Commission has its hands full with. Kwaning pulled the plant apart and discovered that different materials can be made from it: “The fibers can be used for paper and textile. The pith in the stem can be blended and compressed into a kind of styrofoam. And even under high pressure to a construction panel, comparable to MDF, but without binder. ”
Kwaning was made aware of the iLab via the province of Noord-Brabant and is currently writing a business plan. “I have a creative education. Starting a business requires a different way of thinking, which I am not used to. So I’m looking for help with the business part of entrepreneurship. ”
Project leader Geert Mol of the Green Chemistry Campus: “We often see that young companies wander around in the prize circuit and receive a lot of media attention, but are unable to develop themselves commercially. That’s a shame. That is why we support them across the breadth of their business operations: with accessible housing and lab facilities, financing sources, guidance and support by people with technical competences, but also through coaching in the field of entrepreneurship. Moreover, in the Delta region we have access to an extensive ecosystem, a relevant network of companies, governments and knowledge institutions from MBO to university. ”
This support is also an important factor for Bionative Industries. Bart de Raad, a Chemical Technology student at Avans, founded the company last year with partner Daan Sybesma. The biodegradable plastic substitute they developed is especially suitable for single-use plastics that do not come into contact with moisture. “Think of bread clips: tiny things that everyone throws away immediately. It may seem simple, but it is used on a gigantic scale worldwide and therefore has a major environmental impact.”
The material was initially developed in the garage at De Raad’s home. The lab has since moved to a business center in Breda. However, the Board also needed business support. When he heard about the iLab from a fellow student, he contacted immediately. “We are currently still in the technical development phase, but soon we really have to sit down with a customer and draw up contracts. That can have a significant impact on your future. It is reassuring that there is a team of experts behind us that can advise us.”
There is still plenty of room in the iLab for other start-up companies. For more information, please contact Geert Mol.
Source: website Green Chemistry Campus
- Overview and information about our Coci’s & iLabs
- iLab status for Green Chemistry Innovation Lab in Bergen op Zoom