Bio-based Materials Plus (BBM+)
Materials of the future
“Sustainable bio-based raw materials that can be used to make our polymeric materials greener are increasingly important to DSM,” says Rob Meier, subsidy coordinator for DSM’s Materials Sciences. “As the world population continues to grow and the environment comes under increasing pressure, we’ll need to develop resources to replace current oil-based materials.”
The bio-based economy is an economy in which biomass is the most important resource for materials. “Clearly, developing such an economy is a massive undertaking, and creative solutions will require extensive collaboration between businesses, scientists, governments, and civil society,” says Rob. “That’s why DSM believes so strongly in open innovation.”
Educating young talent
“To move towards a bio-based economy, we’ll need well-trained, talented young people to lead the way,” says Katarina Babic, DSM’s representative in the BBM+ project. “So, when the opportunity came along, we were pleased to join the BBM+ project.” DSM’s academic partners in the project (the University of Maastricht and Hogeschool Zuyd), with the financial support of the Dutch Province of Limburg, have developed unique educational programs with a strong research and innovation component. These programs provide students with the scientific knowledge, hands-on understanding, and business thinking that they need to cover the whole science and innovation route from start to finish. Built on this concept of “Research-Based Learning”, the programs combine teaching modules that ensure a highly relevant theoretical foundation with practical research projects and internships for students.
To optimally support international students and professionals, other educational programs are also being developed within this project, such as HBO honors program, a pre-master program to facilitate continuous learning from HBO to Academic level as well as the concept of “lifelong learning” for professionals.
Taking the needs of international students into account, an International Students & Support Office will be set up. This office will take care of recruitment, facilities and the outflow into the region.
This is where DSM provides a major contribution. “Students have access to our research facilities at the Brightlands campus and are able to gain experience from working closely with our DSM science and innovation community,” says Katarina. “In addition, our international working environment gives students a feeling for what it’s like to work within a large, research-based multinational. And through our extensive network of laboratories, institutions, and companies involved in developing or making bio-based materials, we can always link students with suitable contacts.”
Partners in this project
The project leader of the BBM+ project is the University of Maastricht. Other institutes in this partnership are Zuyd Hogeschool, Avans Hogeschool, CHILL, Brightlands Chemlot Campus, and Sabic.
The project is being financially supported by the Operational Program Zuid-Nederland (OP-Zuid), which is a collaborative subsidy program of the Dutch provinces Zeeland, Noord-Brabant and Limburg, together with the cities Breda, Tilburg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Helmond, Venlo, Sittard-Geleen, Heerlen and Maastricht. It is an economic enforcement program that is funded with almost €186 million by the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRO) and €46 million by the government. OP-Zuid’s main goal is to improve the competitive power, economic growth and grow employment opportunities in the south of the Netherlands.