Green Leaders Network expands

Connecting or matchmaking, that is what it’s all about in the Green Leaders Network of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers, known as VNO-NCW, and entrepreneurs’ organisation MKB-Nederland. Jolanda van Schaick of CREM is the  matchmaker of this network, responsible for connecting entrepreneurs in the area of circularity and the energy transition.

The network includes almost 400 green leaders and is still growing in popularity.

How can Philips disconnect its buildings in Friesland from the use of gas? And: can the plastic waste of Philips which is not yet being recycled be upgraded to a raw material? These two challenges were the central focus during the Green Leaders meeting in Drachten, where Philips produces shavers and home appliances. Over forty green leaders, carefully selected by Jolanda van Schaick and the Vereniging Circulair Friesland (the Circular Friesland Association), travelled to the north of the country to present their solutions.

Green business model
The first challenge, disconnecting from gas, showed creative solutions in the field of solar energy, cold heat storage and heat pumps. The second challenge proved to be a tough one, because waste streams consisting of only one type of plastic are already being recycled to secondary plastic granules. This is not feasible for plastic waste consisting of several types of plastic which are inseparable, like the plastics in rejected shavers. During the meeting, a furniture producer and a producer of 3-D printing filament showed interest in this mixed plastic waste stream. Moreover, other green leaders suggested solutions with regard to product design and product engineering. Based on the result, Philips will plan follow-up meetings with these businesses, hopefully resulting in the development of sustainable business cases. Because this is one thing all green leaders agree on: investing in a sustainable future requires a sound business case. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.

Different ways of connecting
Many matches in the Green Leaders Network are made between large companies, like Philips, Houweling Groep and Auping, and young, innovative companies. Not only during meetings, but also through the closed, online community on On this online platform, over 50 challenges have been posted for which solutions are being offered. In addition, matchmaker Jolanda is looking for bilateral connections. As Yousef Yousef, chairman of the Green Leaders Network puts it: “Especially for scale-ups, matchmaking is key. These are the entrepreneurs that have past the start-up phase. There is a market for their product or service but they need launching customers to jump to scale.”

Entering Europe
Since a few months, Yousef is a member of the Advisory board of the European Innovation Council (EIC) focusing on the policy to accelerate the scale-up of innovative companies. The EIC wants to increase the number of scale-ups in Europe, not just in sectors like IT, but also in the climate related sectors. Yousef has already discussed the role of the Green Leaders Network in the implementation of the Green Deal of Frans Timmermans with the new European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

More information? Jolanda van Schaick

Article originally by Annemarie van Oorschot; see (in Dutch)