Werknemer in de bouw aan het werk achter de laptop met een robot naast hem, in werkkleding met een helm

Forging collaborations in South Holland’s manufacturing industry

SMITZH is an innovation programme that was developed by and for the manufacturing industry in the province of South Holland. Between 2017 and 2022 this initiative of InnovationQuarter and TNO brought together hundreds of entrepreneurs to reflect on the practical application of robots, 3D printing, and other smart digital technology.

South Holland’s manufacturing industry boasts a large number of high-quality, specific companies. This is what sets SMITZH apart from other regional partnerships, such as the Brabant Brainport, in which a handful of leading companies play a guiding role.

In South Holland the links between businesses based in the province are less obvious. Around the business clusters in Rotterdam, Dordrecht, and Leiden you will find many specialist production lines that never intersect. For many business owners, investing in smart, bespoke technologies on their own is virtually impossible.

A South Holland solution: SMITZH

SMITZH (which stands for Smart Manufacturing Industrial Application South Holland) was set up with the aim of assisting entrepreneurs in their shared search for individual, highly specialised solutions. Bringing together companies grappling with similar challenges created a clear picture of the challenge facing South Holland as a whole and possible solutions to it.

The solution was found in the form of a personalised approach, the aim of which is to gain a proper understanding of companies and provide input for and open up field labs and skills labs: practical environments where regional companies and knowledge institutions develop, test, and implement solutions together. The RAMLAB field lab, for example, is researching the 3D printing of large metal parts, while the People-centred Technology knowledge line has tested solutions to support personnel with remote assembly or maintenance.

Setting to work together

Many of the companies participating in SMITZH had a goal in the area of digitalisation, but did not know where best to start. On the other hand, field labs and companies with specific expertise were not always able to find the right clients. In the labs these companies and organisations got to know each other, as well as the tools, training programmes, and grants available.

Using this formula SMITZH managed to reach more than 2,350 companies in the space of five years. Four hundred of them have taken a serious step in the area of digitalisation, by using new technology or training staff. In addition, the platform has strengthened the regional innovation and cooperation infrastructure, through the field labs and skills labs, but also through a service desk for the organisations involved.

SMITZH, which came to an end in 2022, was therefore followed up immediately in the form of the EDIH (European Digital Innovation Hub). This means the approach of InnovationQuarter and TNO Vector has been broadened from the manufacturing industry alone to include all industrial companies in South Holland.

SMITZH was co-funded by the Province of South Holland, the Rotterdam-The Hague Metropolitan Region (MRDH), and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK).

Read more on the SMITZH website