The Hague makes waves in maritime innovation

The Hague is pushing the boat out in maritime innovation, with The Hague Awards recently recognising local initiatives that take a sustainable, forward-thinking approach to the sea.

This year’s edition of the Awards, a yearly event that honours those contributing to the city’s economic development, evolved around the theme “Seaside Celebrations”.

The Dutch maritime cluster consists of many subsectors, from dredging, to shipping, pelagic fishing, offshore energy, and maritime research. It consists of more than 12,000 companies which employ 224,000 employees and generate an annual turnover of € 26.3 billion. Specialist R&D institutes are laying the foundations for innovation in areas such as shipbuilding, maritime construction, materials technology, and marine ecology.

As Nienke van der Malen, Director at The Hague Convention Bureau, says: “In The Hague we have a special relationship with the sea and are really proud of our beautiful beaches. But this also means, that for us the world’s environmental challenges are very close to home. We are highly aware of the fragility of our environment and take the need for sustainability very seriously. In The Hague we want to create positive impact and motivate event organisers that come here to do the same together with us.”

The awards highlighted inspiring ‘elevator pitches’ of five local innovative initiatives with a maritime bent.

Elemental Water Makers has developed an innovative desalination system that can turn seawater into drinking water, using sustainable energy. “There are more than 4 million people in the world that have no access to water. And this number is rising quickly due to a growing population, our water footprint and climate change,” said Sid Vollebregt, founder of Elemental Water Makers. “In my opinion, this is the biggest challenge of the 21st century.” The company operates in eight different countries and last year received the Global Water Award.

The Noordzeeboerderij (seaweed farm) has spent five years promoting seaweed as a source of sustainable food. In October 2018, a prototype experimental farm will be unveiled in the harbour of Scheveningen. Koen van Swam told attendees that a seaweed farm twice as big as Portugal could provide sufficient amounts of protein for the whole world. The organisation is also looking at how dried seaweed can be used as a feed for cows so they emit less methane.

DeltaSync/BLUE21 is a collective of engineers and architects who have specialised in constructing floating buildings. “We want to realise floating cities with a positive impact on our planet,” said Mirjam van der Ploeg. The organisation is currently working on building a floating island in French Polynesia for which it has teamed up with local communities, the government and a partnering organisation from Silicon Valley.

TNO Maritime & Offshore is involved in many maritime and offshore innovations enabling smarter fishin and cleaner shipping. Maurits Huisman revealed that TNO is currently working on developing underwater Wi-Fi to allow wireless underwater inspections of wind parks in the sea. Technology being developed in The Hague sends data by means of sound waves, creating a network to operate underwater drones and even livestream what they see. “This is important because through this, we make sustainable wind energy on sea more affordable and we need to bring people into dangerous situations less often.”

The Sailing Innovation Centre accelerates innovations in sailing. Former Olympic sailor Cees van Bladel said: “Our innovations always happen in the golden triangle: sports, business and knowledge. And if there is an innovation we always need to collaborate.”




(via The Hague Convention Bureau, Holland Trade and Invest)