“It’s going really well. By the end of this year, we will have already achieved the level that our original plans indicated we wouldn’t reach until 2023. So yes, we’re growing fast! Our campus gets stronger with every new party that joins us here.”
This was one of Brightlands Chemelot Campus CEO Bert Kip’s messages that stood out the most during a press conference last week at the campus in Sittard-Geleen. By late 2019, there will be 4,000 knowledge workers and students at the Campus.
At the invitation of Limburg Provincial Deputy Joost van den Akker (Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure), the press gathered to hear more about the recent developments at the Campus and naturally also about the prospects and plans for the future. There was certainly no shortage of topics for discussion.
Apart from the numbers, Bert Kip expressed his satisfaction that the ecosystems at the Campus really work: large and small companies, researchers and students all connect at the Campus, and this leads to faster innovations, shortening the time products may be launched on the market.
The growth also means that the Campus is filling up with laboratories, cleanrooms, offices and warehousing, and with organizations such as Sitech, Sekisui, Mitsui, Brightlands Materials Center, Fortimedix, Ioniqa and the rapidly growing Lonza. [A1] During a walk around the campus property, Bert Kip showed how the campus is initially trying to create new space through internal expansion. This means that old buildings will be demolished and replaced by new structures. “We want to attract even more parties to the Campus so that we can strengthen the ecosystems and ensure job growth, and we need more room to achieve this. There is a lot of interest in the two nice new Bright Houses we have just set up, and these are already as good as full. There isn’t any room at the current campus for another building like this,” CEO Bert Kip explains. “This means we need new space. We can meet the needs for this growth to the north, where around ten hectares is already being designated for the growth of the Campus in the Chemelot 2025 plan. Bert Kip: “We are talking to all the stakeholders at the Campus and the surrounding area about this.”
The CEO dispelled any doubts that there is only one way to do this, the safe way! Bert Kip: “Safety is of paramount importance and an absolute top priority; as both a Campus and a site, we want to be the safest, most sustainable and competitive facility in Western Europe for R&D and production. This means that we have to keep looking to see which parties we will admit to the Campus and where we can house them responsibly.”
During the press conference, it became clear how important a high-return real estate portfolio is for the development options at the Campus. Bert Kip confirmed that campuses these days play a role as a magnet. This attraction also makes a campus extremely interesting when it comes to real estate. The most recent evidence of this is the substantial interest in the two Bright Houses at the Campus which were built in twelve months.
Deputy Joost van den Akker reemphasized that the Brightlands campuses are not only a “bullseye” but mostly that they “belong to all of us”. He was referring in particular to SME companies that could profit from the successes that have been achieved at the Campus via the ecosystems. “Brightlands is the concept in which the knowledge economy and knowledge infrastructure are the driving force for the future of the Limburg economy,” according to the deputy.
Van den Akker also indicated that once the new EU budget is created in the near future, it will be crucial for Brightlands to knock on the door in Brussels. All of the focus on climate in the financing at government agencies is, in this regard, rather favorable for a campus with an explicit focus on sustainability, reduction in CO2 emissions and circularity.