The chemical industry. With an annual turnover of more than 50 billion euros, it is one of the largest sectors in the Netherlands. However, it is also energy-intensive and dependent on fossil fuels. Within Chemport Europe – the industrial region in the triangle Delfzijl / Groningen / Emmen – there is a strong drive to make the chemical sector more sustainable. And this is definitely possible. Mainly because of our unique infrastructure, knowledge and expertise, we are able to facilitate this.

This article about green chemistry is the first in a series of three articles about the power of the chemical sector in the Northern Netherlands. Also read the articles about hydrogen and innovative recycling. Do you prefer to watch video? Then watch this video >> 

In the north of the Netherlands, you will find all the building blocks for making chemistry more sustainable within a radius of 50 kilometres. These include a fast-growing knowledge and innovation campus Campus Groningen (link in Dutch) with 50,000 students, top knowledge institutions, a large chemistry course and of course Ben Feringa, Nobel prize winner for chemistry.

Starters can test their ideas at Innolab Chemistry and Innolab AgriFood in laboratory facilities. Growing innovative companies can turn to ZAP – Zernike Advanced Processing (link in Dutch) This is a unique test environment for bio based experiments. In addition, it is possible in the future to test and develop sustainable chemical products or processes on a larger scale in the region.

The Bio Cooperative is a collaboration and positioning platform for SMEs in the Northern Netherlands, in the field of bio-based economy. The necessary parties for financing growth are also nearby: NOM, GROEIfonds, money and advice schemes from EBG, Carduso Capital and Triade can be found in the region (links in Dutch). The strength of the region is that companies and organizations in all stages of life – start-up, scale-up and “mature” – know each other and meet in this ecosystem, where a unique infrastructure, knowledge and expertise come together. All components intervene in such a way and are coordinated in such a way that you can go from idea through innovation to impact super-fast.

Production clusters close by

In this region you will also find a production cluster for chemical intermediaries in Delfzijl and a production cluster in Emmen focusing on polymers, recycling and green raw materials. The seaport will provide the opportunity to import all the necessary materials. And last but not least: the possibility to make a direct connection with offshore wind energy, in order to produce hydrogen from it. There are only a few places in the world where you can find knowledge and innovation, the generation of green energy, the development of green raw materials and production clusters so close to each other.

Two Challenges

To accelerate the transition to Green Chemistry, the region is organizing the Sustainable Industry Challenge where scale-ups from all over the world are challenged to think about innovative solutions! Suiker Unie is one of the companies that has a challenge. Traditionally, sugar mainly goes to the food sector. However, the company also sees opportunities to use sugar in green chemistry. After all, everything that is made from oil, such as plastics, can also be made from sugar. Suiker Unie is therefore looking for partners to work together and develop new sustainable value chains.

The second challenge comes from ESD-SIC, the world’s most environmentally friendly producer of silicon carbide. To make the production of this silicon carbide even more sustainable the company investigates, together with young and innovative companies, how one of their materials can be replaced by more environmentally friendly alternatives.

It may be clear: the business community, knowledge centres and governments in the Northern Netherlands form an ecosystem that drives and connects knowledge and business, and is at the forefront of the development of applications in green chemistry. Together we make strong connections.