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Faculty of Economics and Business
Centre of Expertise Vinci | Innovation
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College Tour Oosterhof-Holman at Zernike Campus

Datum:11 oktober 2016
College Tour Oosterhof-Holman at Zernike Campus
College Tour Oosterhof-Holman at Zernike Campus

On September 29, Oosterhof-Holman (OH), a Dutch contractor specialized in environmental technology and sustainable energy, held their second College Tour at the Zernike Campus, chaired by Thijs Broekhuizen from the University of Groningen.

The core objective of the event was to prepare OH for the future, to see what kind of challenges lie ahead, and with what kinds of products OH can serve the industry in the future. More than 70 employees joined the College Tour after a quick dinner at the Zernike Campus. Carlo van de Weijer (TOMTOM) first inspired the attendees by showing the current developments in mobility and by discussing some of the megatrends that seriously affect the infrastructure of future cities. Next, Thijs Broekhuizen introduced the active workshop part by explaining the aim of scenario analysis (how do smart cities look like?) and how to collaborate for innovation (with whom to partner?). Under the supervision of Carlo van de Weijer (TOMTOM), Killian McCarthy (RUG) and Thijs Broekhuizen, the workshops took place. The best and most remarkable ideas were presented at the end.

The future of mobility, traffic and automotives.

Expert Carlo van de Weijer presented the most important current developments in mobility, traffic and the automotive industry. He explained that disruptive shifts in mobility are quite rare but that - when disruptive technologies take off - they often disrupt markets completely. For instance, the combustion engine used in cars completely replaced the need for horses. He did not expect the self-driving car to cause a complete replacement of the traditional car due to enormous challenges in dealing with the complexities in city centers where bikes, trams, and cars often collide. Understanding and predicting human behaviors is key before such autonomous cars can drive safely in these densely populated areas. Still, he expects a growth in the use of autonomous cars on highways because they help drivers to save valuable time during traffic jams. Using the “cost of use for society” for various means of transport (train, bus, coach bus, bike, plain), Carlo showed the enormous high costs involved in supporting supply-driven public transport means such as the train and bus. He argues that it is much better to just asphalt the train tracks and led demand-driven means of transport (e.g., coach buses such as Flixbus) prevail. 

How do you predict the future? 

Thijs Broekhuizen explained that scenario analysis is a useful tool to look into the future. Scenario analysis – popularized by Shell – is a technique to create memories of the future by letting people sketch and experience several plausible scenarios. The technique is not to predict the future, but to make managers more aware of the uncertainties of the future, and to help them to pick up signals faster, better understand the drivers and challenges of the future, and stretch their mental models. Scenario analysis facilitates firms to learn faster.

The workshop goal was to identify the plausible futures and deliberate about “how OH can contribute to the building of smart cities”. Several OH employees from different departments were brought together in small groups to brainstorm about the current developments, the possible solutions that technologies or innovations can bring, and which products, services and concepts possibly exist in 2030. Numerous ideas were shared ranging from getting energy from sewer systems, strengthening of dikes, building interactive and energy-providing roads, to the delivery of small products via pipes to rural areas. The participants also deliberated about the possible partners to collaborate for innovation, when ideas required the cooperation with other firms.

The College Tour provided OH an opportunity to share and develop ideas for the future with the help of experts. The employees very much appreciated the highly interactive and interesting day at the University Campus, and the management already thinks about planning a 3rd College Tour to keep Oosterhof-Holman prepared for the future!

For more information, please contact: t.l.j.broekhuizen