Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

Dutch Diplo Talk

Out of the free university boxes

11 Feb 2015

Vrije Universiteit

My first week spent in the Netherlands was a productive one. I will sum up several affairs I am dealing with here that CGSF is involved in.

The visit of Ms. Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, and Mr, Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam, will take place mid-February because we attracted more than enough companies to join them. Also, we reached an agreement to establish an OrangeHub in our San Francisco building as a co-working space for the visit.

I made time for economic diplomacy as well. My alma mater, Free University Amsterdam, invited me back after a meeting in Los Angeles, and organized short meetings with entrepreneurial academics. Thinking back to my years in college and the image of the Dutch Reformed Church, this university really managed to think out of the box throughout the years.

The strong cooperation among Amsterdam higher education institutes is worth noting. This does not only lead to more efficiency, but also brings together people from different disciplines in one thematically orientated institute. The institutes have to serve as a platform for valorization of academic research. Good examples are Innovation Exchange Amsterdam, the Center of Research for Digital Humanities, the new IT building, etc. They all are interested in exploring examples in San Francisco and Portland and working together in the next stage.

The Free University was the first in the world to create molecular films of DNA strings to see in real time what happens in living systems with a deficiency. It succeeded in winning a prize from the European Research Council for marketing this technology.

Dekker is supporting academic startups
One day before my arrival, State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science Sander Dekker opened the commercial machine of the startup Lumicks, which already has 15 academic customers and has received a go-to-market subsidy, quite rare in the Netherlands, but more common on America’s West Coast.

Finally, I visited the Alzheimer’s Center, a unique institute where daily care and research come together, especially for younger patients. A Delta Plan Dementia has been launched to find the cause (DNA, consumption) and proper prevention and/or medication. The link to the PIB Health Innovation Transfer at the Consulate General has been established, and it will not be long before the first delegation will arrive.

These examples show a link between the Netherlands and America’s West Coast. Because all examples are in the valorization and go-to-market stages, the economic gains are simple to guess and will be a promising development in 2015.

This blog was posted earlier in Hugo’s Weekly.

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About the author

Hugo Von Meijenfeldt
Written by Hugo Von Meijenfeldt

Consul-General in San Francisco

Hugo von Meijenfeldt was appointed as representative for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the 13 westernmost United States in August 2013.

Prior to his current position, Hugo was Deputy Director General at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. He also served as Special Envoy for Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2009 until 2013. In this capacity, he led Dutch participation in global diplomatic activities to reach a climate agreement.

Previously, Hugo was Director for Soil, Water and Rural Environment. For several years he held the position of Deputy Director for International Affairs, Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Policy of UN-ECE Geneva, and Head of the European Policy Division (including the EU Presidency in 1997). From 1982 until 1991, he was Legal Counsel to the soil clean-up division.

Hugo earned his Masters in Public Law and Policy at the Free University in Amsterdam in 1981. He is member of the WorldConnectors and the Sustainability Challenge Foundation.