Open innovation and horizontal cooperation

Dr.ir. Albert Douma

Albert Douma, program manager Human Capital at Dinalog

Amongst academia many knowledge of logistics and supply chain management is present in the form of theses and research projects. The student or researcher meanwhile works elsewhere and the work is at the library, without the logistics sector knowing of its existence. ‘In the Conversion Factory we convert knowledge into products and services for this sector’, Albert Douma explains, Program Manager Human Capital at Dinalog (Dutch Institute for Advanced Logistics).

To offer the required knowledge and capacity for this, Dinalog intensively works together with the post-master designer's programme Industrial Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology. Douma: ‘The trainees of this program are supported by experienced professionals from the industry and scientific personnel from the TU/e and they have the required knowledge and expertise to convert recent scientific insights into practical and innovative solutions for a company or group of companies.’

The cooperation produced a great result for all parties involved according to Douma: ‘The company enlarges the odds for a competitive advantage thanks to innovation within a specific context and the trainees develop themselves thanks to a new generation of logistics professionals enabling companies to maintain their innovative advantage. The logistics industry benefits from the results of the Conversion Factory and technological designer's projects in renewed insights and talent becoming available on the job market.’

‘We sense that innovation within the Dutch industry is currently slower-paced. Companies are hesitant in innovating during times of crisis in which investments with a short payback time are preferred. With innovation it is not always possible to determine this beforehand’, Douma states. However we keep challenging companies to innovate and particularly to work together through open innovation and horizontal cooperation. Furthermore we support financially.

‘Such a process does not completely executes itself’, Douma explains. ‘Dinalog mainly acts in this process as an initiator and mediator. Companies with a specific innovation request approach Dinalog. Based on the intake we subsequently decide in consultation with the TU/e whether the problem description fits within the framework set and whether the company is willing to share the developed knowledge with the market once the project has been completed. If the request meets the aforementioned criteria, the company is eligible for the Conversion Factory. Because the project is partially financed by the government as well, it is an attractive form of cooperation for the company. The condition we set is that the innovation carried out eventually becomes available within the logistics industry.