DPI Annual Report 2007

17 June 2008

Top-level partnerships

At the end of 2007 the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Maria van der Hoeven, gave a positive response to the Polymer Innovation Programme. For the Dutch Polymer Institute and for the DPI Value Centre this meant that the strategic plan we had drawn up was approved, including a financial commitment for the next four years. Via a rolling model the plan will annually be extended by one year, which means we will have a constant four-year time horizon. Interim assessments will be used to evaluate progress against the stated ambitious targets. It goes without saying that we are very pleased with the commitment made by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

New projects

Since DPI was already in the starting blocks, the approval meant that many of our projects suddenly gained momentum. In 2007 calls were issued for the various technology areas. Following a careful selection process, more than 50 projects were launched in 2008. These represent about 35% of the proposals submitted. We are currently working hard to fill the vacancies for the various projects. It took us only four months to fill as much as 60% of the vacancies. This is a result to be proud of. It indicates that young scientists are eager to be part of the DPI brand and work with DPI's partners.

Job market opportunities

As a result of their work on projects for DPI, young scientists have plenty of opportunities in the job market. As our annual report shows, many of our scientists found jobs with our industrial partners after completing their PhD projects. The contacts with industrial companies that our scientists develop during their studies make it easier for them to switch to an industrial working environment. For example, they have become familiar with commercial ways of thinking and have learned to set feasible targets. DPI projects are projects that are primarily of scientific interest, their direction being determined by our partners from industry. Within the DPI framework, challenging academic concepts can be explored and developed with total freedom.


Excellence is one of our core values. This means we hire scientists of the highest quality and expect their work to be of the highest standard. In March, NOWT (Netherlands Observatory of Science and Technology) published its report ‘Science and Technology Indicators 2008' comparing the quality of publications from various Dutch knowledge institutes. It was the first time NOWT included Leading Technology Institutes in its analysis. According to the report, publications from the Dutch Polymer Institute have a very high scientific impact factor - twice as high as the world average. This proves that our efforts to promote excellence are bearing fruit, thanks to the work of DPI staff departments, Scientific Chairmen, researchers and the Scientific Reference Committee. This will certainly greatly enhance the reputation of our work. We will continue along the same lines in the years to come. The high impact score shows that it is possible to carry out top-level research that is industrially relevant. DPI focuses on broader scientific issues that require long-term research.

Cradle to cradle

A special highlight in 2007 was the Annual Meeting held in November, also the 10th anniversary of our institute. This meeting was hosted by DSM in Maastricht (NL). Professor Michael Braungart, one of the originators of the Cradle to Cradle concept, had been invited as keynote speaker. Braungart challenged the DPI community to help reduce fossil fuel usage, energy consumption and waste generation in chemical processes over the next few years. DPI is taking up this challenge in collaboration with the National Chemistry Board. The ambitions we have defined in our plans include a 30% reduction in fossil-fuel usage within 10 years and equally ambitious goals in the fields of waste reduction and energy conservation. DPI's portfolio of approved projects reflects the sustainability philosophy. Over the next years, the new technology area of Bio-Inspired Polymers will give concrete shape to the C2C formula. A new line of research is the development of plastics that are suitable for upcycling (as opposed to recycling, in which materials are re-used in a cascade of ever lower-grade applications and finally end up in roadside marker posts). We want plastics that can be reused as if they were virgin raw materials, ‘back to building blocks'. This calls for close collaboration between polymer experts, biotechnologists and catalysis experts, as well as new partnerships with centres of excellence.


It is hard to quantify our industrial impact in absolute terms. But our partners clearly have faith in us, as is evident from the fact that they endorse our new business plan, including its financial consequences. The number of patents generated by our research is increasing, but at the same time we have a number of patents that are ‘for sale'. We want to avoid spending a disproportionate amount of money on maintaining a patents portfolio. That is why we transfer patents to our partners (industrial companies or knowledge institutes) after at most 2.5 years, and if they are not interested we offer them to third parties. Knowledge transfer constitutes a large part of DPI's added value for our industrial partners. As this annual report shows, many of our scientists have found a job with DPI partners after their studies. Once they have done a DPI project, they find it easier to apply for jobs in industry. The knowledge institutes among our partners greatly value this aspect because it makes it easier for them to hire scientists (PhD students and Post-Docs).

DPI Value Centre

The DPI Value Centre that we started up in September has many contacts with small and medium-sized enterprises. Through the DPI Value Centre a lot more Dutch companies now have access to the knowledge that we have built up in the field of polymers. Since September, over 40 companies have found their way to the DPI Value Centre. The first successes have already been achieved, as you can read in this annual report. "Not by re-inventing the wheel, but by using our network. We know most of the players in this sector, we know the Dutch infrastructure and together with established stakeholders we know how to get access to top level experts and funding", says Arie Brouwer, director of the DPI Value Centre. "In this way we can really help companies make a big step forward. That's our mission. Innovating together."

European Polymer Innovation Programme

In September 2008 the new Polymer Innovation Programme will officially be launched in The Hague (Netherlands). The Dutch minister of Economic Affairs, Maria van der Hoeven, will press the button. In this programme, too, we will demonstrate that collaboration pays. Not just within the Netherlands but also outside our national borders. We have taken the first step towards collaboration with North-Rhine Westphalia (Germany). We are also aiming for a closer involvement of the Belgian region of Flanders in our research. It is up to us to give shape to the Polymer Innovation Programme that we have set up. This programme revolves around the Triple P concept (people, planet, profit or, as we have formulated it in our business plan, quality of life, sustainability and economic growth). Innovating together, joining forces, working together on a unique Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC), at an international top level. That is what we stand for, and it will continue to be our mission for the years to come!

Jacques Joosten
Managing Director,
Dutch Polymer Institute

Attachments: DPI Annual Report 2007