Interview with Susan van Boxtel, Advisor for Innovation, Technology & Science, Holland Innovation Network

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Last week, we had the opportunity to sit down with Susan van Boxtel, Advisor for Innovation, Technology and Science, Holland Innovation Network, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Singapore & Malaysia). Susan emphasized the importance of collaboration and courage in contributing to the successes of smart city initiatives in The Netherlands. One key factor is the the use of the Quadruple Helix Model – where citizens, government, private sector work together to co-create the future.

1. Could you share something about yourself with our readers?

Some things to share are: I am a biologist and have been living and working in Singapore for 8 years now. Laksa is my favourite comfort food and I am a motorcycle enthusiast. My dream is to make a long motorcycle trip for a few months across Asia.

2. What role does the Holland Innovation Network play in establishing collaborations between Singapore and The Netherlands?

Our job is very romantic: matchmaking!

The Holland Innovation Network of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs has 15 offices worldwide, in countries which have a (developing) knowledge economy. In Singapore, my team of 3, we focus not only on Singapore, but also on Malaysia. It starts with trendwatching: which sectors and technologies are developing, and which companies and universities are the main drivers. We inform the researchers, entrepreneurs and policymakers in the Netherlands and organise visit programmes and seminars. In Malaysia we focus on biobased economy and in Singapore on smart nation and industry, ageing society and circular economy.

3. What does a ‘smart city’ mean to you?

A smart city is a vibrant place to live and work in. Where open communication and collaboration between citizens, companies, universities, and government lead to more liveable neighbourhoods, productive work places and sustainable practises.

4. Amsterdam is one of the top smart cities in the world. Could you tell us 3 factors that contribute to the success of the Amsterdam Smart City Initiative?

Dutch Smart Cities, such as Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Eindhoven are successful because nobody is in charge – all parties in the quadruple helix are equal stakeholders: citizens, companies, universities and government. Another success factor is courage: dare to fail, and share the successes and failures. The Dutch smart cities might have different key focus areas, but they share values of inclusiveness, transparency and trust.

5. Why are you excited to attend TECHX Asia?

I am excited to participate in the TechX event because I love to learn from the experiences of other smart cities and get inspired by innovations: new technologies and new applications of existing technologies.


Susan will be joining us at this year’s TECHX Asia, taking place 6-7 September 2017 in Singapore. As Asia’s leading event on commercial applications of emerging technologies, TECHX will bring together leading minds, entrepreneurs and innovators across the entire spectrum of emerging technologies: IoT, drones, AI, 3D, robotics, data and blockchain.

Find out more and book your tickets here.

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