Category Archives: News

Boost for agribusiness – FinAgri Niger 2017

On 16 and 17 May 2017 Partners for Innovation Niger organized in Niamey the FinAgri. Financial institutions and key actors of the agricultural sector in Niger took part in a finance fair related to the agri sector.

Participants of the fair were agri-businesses, farmer organizations, banks, micro finance institutions, government organizations, NGOs and donor organizations.

Partners for Innovation organized the FinAgri through AgriProFocus as Partners for Innovation is responsible for running the  AgriProFocus network in Niger.

Find detailed information (in French) in the  Journal AgriProFocus spécial 2017


First prize won by Senegal youngsters on agroforesty entrepreneurship

On March the 28th  three young Senegalese entrepreneurs have been awarded a prize of 5,000e by the French Embassy in a   competition in which 72 projects were submitted. The three entrepreneurs participated in the  Senegal Youth Forum organized by the French Embassy in November 2016 and were under training by Partners for Innovation. 

Creating business opportunities

Saga Africa offers young African entrepreneurs, project leaders and operators in the informal sector the opportunity to submit project proposals aimed at  improving social economy and solidarity. Their goal is to “make the journey together and learn by sharing their mutual experiences, networking and creating business opportunities.” Submitted proposals are examined by a jury composed of investors and partners of the HUB during the HUB AFRICA Pitch.

More information

Eindhoven Airport & Vanderlande are closing the loop

The airport of Eindhoven and logistics automatisation company Vanderlande have taken an important step towards a circular economy. In the Closing-the-loop project parts of existing baggage handling systems are being reused at the airport instead of being disposed of. In a unique cooperation valuable transport systems now have a longer life span, it’s Vanderlande’s first step to see if a circular business model for transport handling systems is feasible and functioning.


Due to our airport expansion the airport can no longer use our current baggage handling system. A challenge presented itself. By dismantling the equipment into pieces, without knowing where they end up would lead to an unnecessary diminution in value. If (parts of) the equipment are to be reused on a new location, the airport manages to keep its maximum value. So, part of the transport and sorting machines have been put up for sale. See this e-magazine.

Unique cooperation

The Airport of Eindhoven en Vanderlande worked together in this project with amongst others Forbo and SEW (supplier of Vanderlande), ACE Reuse Technology (a specialist in the field of remanufacturing) and locally based recycling company Heezen. For the assessment of the current status of the system and its parts (including the driving mechanism) it’s essential to involve all companies in the value chain and their expertise. In the end you need to be able to guarantee the quality for the new user. Ingeborg Gort of Partners for Innovation, acted as independent project manager to guide the companies in taking the next steps and communicating the results. She documented the steps and the business model.

Circular business model

The business model is work in progress and is depending on the infrastructure of Vanderlande, logistic processes, partners, new customers and last but not least, the costs and margins. However, two things can be noted:
1 The Netherlands will be 100% circular in 2050, since natural resources are becoming scarce.
2 Vanderlande’s systems are employed in 600 airports worldwide, of which 14 in the 20 biggest airports in the world.
If Vanderlande continues in this direction it will work out for the best, keeping in mind that natural resources will become the predominant factor of future business models.

Want to learn more?


Subsidy for innovative renewable energy projects – with export potential

From the 1st of July a funding program is open for innovative renewable energy projects. It’s aimed at supporting Dutch entrepreneurs who intend to demonstrate a new renewable energy service or product. Applicants have to present a solid business case and show a potentially high contribution to a sustainable energy system. The product or service has to be passed the prototype stage and be ready for first market introduction.


The budget of the call for proposals is 20 million euro, and will be granted in a tender. Proposals are ranked on basis of quality and receive a subsidy in order of this ranking until the budget is fully allocated. Financing of the applicant’s share needs to be demonstrably arranged at the time of submission. Considered eligible  activities are experimental development (max. 30% of a project) and  demonstration (min. 70%).

Example projects

Examples of projects that are considered eligible are coming from Dutch companies producing new equipment / technologies for converting biomass to electricity / heat, for example biogas digesters (small/medium/large), waste-to-energy installations, pyrolysis installations, biomass gasification or other renewable energy innovations.

Important dates

Project proposals can be submitted from July 1st. The DEI call for proposals closes on October 24th 2017.

  • For more information please contact

Thomas Dietz

Elke Roetman

How the silicone cartridge enlightened us

How can a relatively small problem provide great insights? The participant members of the silicone cartridge  project can answer this question. They worked together to tackle the problem of the disposed cartridges. The disposal and recycling of the  cartridges that are (nearly) empty are not  straightforward: they end up in the household plastic packaging through a number of ways and this stands in the way of a recycling process that is sustainable for the future.

All links in the chain

With twelve participant parties joining, every company in the supply chain was represented. And this is key to success: in order to improve a process that covers so many links in the chain, results are likely to fail if one link is missing. Once you get all of them around the table (producer, supplier, wholesaler, waste collector, waste sorter, recycler etc.) you can actually start to imagine results at the end of the line.

Contents vs. packaging

The silicone cartridge itself is not the problem, the leftover contents are. Many of the disposed cartridges  still contain bits of glue and they can obstruct the machines. By establishing this, an important conclusion is: not the packaging should determine the way of disposal but its contents.

Despite the increased cooperation on a European level, the disposal of silicone cartridge differs by country. Therefore one of the recommendations is: set up a research on how cartridges  are disposed of in Belgium and in Germany. The results of this research could help develop a uniform model for disposal in Europe.

Symbols & watermark

Home improvement stores in the Netherlands have asked their suppliers to apply a waste symbol on the packaging. This symbol informs the buyer – either professional or DIY – on how to dispose of the cartridges.

Another solution coming out of the project is applying a watermark on the packaging. The watermark would cover the whole surface of the packaging in order for it to be picked up by a scanner, even when it’s only partly visible on the conveyor belt. Using a watermark could not only prove helpful for the silicone cartridge but also for other purposes, like separating food from non food.

A waste symbol is information for the customer, a watermark is information for the waste sorting companies. It wouldn’t even be visible for the customer. Thinking ahead, symbols and watermarks can be used for marketing and logistics purposes, too.


Working together on an improved disposal of silicone cartridges shows us how useful it can be to experiment. Trial and error are essential for innovation. In a project setting where all stakeholders play their part, there’s room for transparency and open communication. Results (whether failure or success) are shared and are there for everyone to see.

The findings coming out of this project go beyond the high tack market. TUSTI, a recycling company, conducted an experiment to see whether it’s possible to remove the leftover bits of glue from the cases (see report). Den Braven (sealant producer) placed, together with its suppliers, a watermark on their cases to participate in a sorting experiment by TOMRA and P&G (see PETCycle project).

Silicone cartridges in a circular economy

The silicone cartridge project is part of the broader ambition to close the loop of plastics. The final report “Silicone cartridges in a Circular Economy” (Dutch) is the result of the chain project at the request of the Chain Agreement Plastics Cycle and the Waste Funds Packaging. The idea of this project was put forward by Michiel Westerhoff (Circulus Berkel) in the steering committee of the Chain Agreement Plastics Cycle and is carried out by Partners for Innovation.

  • More information

– The report with conclusions & recommendations (Dutch)

– The report  “Recycling of sealant tubes”

-Website Kunststofkringloop  (Dutch)

-Website PETcycle project  (English)

  • Project Participants

QCP (Quality Circular Polymers), SUEZ, VWDHZ (Vereniging Winkelketens Doe Het Zelf), Circulus-Berkel, Den Braven Holding B.V., Afvalfonds Verpakkingen, Nedvang, Vereninging Lijmen en Kitten VLK, LCKVA (Learning Centre Kunststof Verpakkingsafval), KIDV (Kennisinstituut Duurzaam Verpakken), TUSTI, Filigrade, Fischbach, Partners for Innovation, Ketenakkoord Kunststofkringloop. ·

  • Contact

Ingeborg Gort


Partners for Innovation member of the Climate Technology Centre & Network

Partners for Innovation has become a member of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). The network brings together stakeholders engaged in a wide range of activities related to climate technologies.

Climate technology centre and network

The main goal of the network is to promote technologies for low carbon and climate resilient development at the request of developing countries. It provides “technology solutions, capacity building and advice on policy, legal and regulatory frameworks tailored to the needs of individual countries.”

The network can support your climate mitigation and adaptation ambitions and activities, by funding technical support. For questions how to get this support, please contact Emiel Hanekamp. 


Product Service Systems make their return

Circular economy business models in which products are accompanied or entirely replaced by a service are gaining momentum. These models are often referred to as product service systems (PSS) or ‘servitisation models’. The circular economy system diagram, as propagated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, has given an important boost to the broad market implementation of these models.

From linear to circular

PSS business models have the potential to assist companies in moving from linear, product volume based business models to circular, service based models that ensure sustainable, long-term revenue generation. At the same time, negative impacts on the environment are reduced or even eliminated. In other words, it can help companies to move to the ‘inner loops’ of the circular economy diagram, in which value is created by keeping products, parts and components in use and recycling is avoided where possible.

Prominent examples of product service systems include the ‘pay-per-lux scheme’ of Philips / Turntoo and the ‘pay-per-copy’ model of Xerox. The latter is a good example of the impact a PSS can have on a product: instead of producing copiers that have a limited lifespan to safeguard future market demand, copiers are designed in a thoroughly durable, serviceable and maintenance friendly manner.

Optimising service and reducing hassle

A modern copier is built to last practically forever. Consumables and wear-parts can be replaced very rapidly after which they are refilled – respectively refurbished – and reused. Thereby optimising profit for the owner, optimising service and reducing hassle for the user and reducing negative impacts on the environment. Although already launched in the 1960’s, this model continues to evolve. The IoT enables direct communication between copier and warehouse, ensuring a new toner cartridge lands on your doormat just in time with minimal use of time/resources.

From a customer perspective, the example of a new painting is often used: I just bought a painting, now I have to buy a drill and some mounting hardware to give it a nice place in my living room. But… I don’t want to own a drill (or even a painting), I want a nice painting hanging in a nice place. So, wouldn’t it be better if the gallery that was selling it to me provides this as a service? And contact me in a few months to see if I still like the painting or perhaps want to replace it with a new one?

Methodology to develop a PSS

Sometimes ideas take a while to land in the right place. Over a decade ago, Partners for Innovation was involved in a ground-breaking EU project in which an extensive methodology was developed for companies to develop a PSS (MePSS). The project brought together leading institutes (covering main PSS-aspects) including Politecnico di Milano, Econcept and Dalt (design), Insead (business model innovation), Pré (impact assessment), GrAT (success and failure factors) and Sheffield Hallam University (consumer aspects).

The project built upon previous work of the participants, including a study conducted by PfI co-founder Cees van Halen, Mark Goedkoop (Pré) and Harry te Riele for the Netherlands’ Ministry of the Environment in 1997 (according to Wikipedia this study defined PSS as a term and research field).

The result of MEPSS is a model for companies to evolve from ‘take-make-dispose’ business models towards sustainable, profitable product service systems, in five phases:

1. Strategic analysis (mapping stakeholders, boundary conditions, available technologies)

2. Exploring opportunities (developing and assessing scenarios with value chain partners and other stakeholders)

3. PSS idea development (selection and further development of the most promising PSS idea)

4. PSS concept design (development of the detailed functionalities of the PSS, viability, feasibility and sustainability check)

5. Development and implementation of a PSS project (assembling a project team involving relevant value chain partners and stakeholders, jointly defining and conducting the project). PSS implementation may involve a change in the organisational set-up (e.g. creation of a new joint venture or strategic alliance).

A well-elaborated stepwise approach is made available (in a report, book and online) to move through each of the five phases in this process (see diagram below), providing accessible tools to further assess important aspects of the PSS. Decision nodes mark the beginning of each phase – results of the previous phase are evaluated by the company’s management board and are translated into starting points for the next.

Our recent projects

Although the theory is not new, it is highly applicable to the requirements of companies who want to implement a PSS today. This is underlined by the fact that main methodology developers GrAT / TU Wien and Politecnico di Milano are still regularly assisting companies in developing a product service system, building further on the results of MEPSS. At Partners for Innovation, we are firmly involved in PSS and other types of circular business model development. Recent experience includes projects in which we explored a circular business model for the airport luggage systems of Vanderlande and a product service system (rental services) for an electric scooter.


In our view, the untapped potential of PSS – in terms of social, environmental and economic benefits – is enormous. The starting points behind PSS are as valid as they were two decades ago: now is an excellent time for each business to rethink their strategy to:

* Remain access to their products / components / parts and ensure that these stay in use as long as possible (given that, as a rule, >90% of the value is lost when a product is recycled).

* Optimally adhere to the (changing) demands and wishes of their customers while reducing the resource, material and energy inputs needed to do so.

* Optimise customer retention: each PSS inherently involves a solid and durable relationship between provider and client.

Plan C, the ‘circular economy hub’ in Flanders has summarised the main characteristics of product service systems in a concise infographic.

Challenges and a refocus

In short, PSS optimises profits, customer satisfaction and (positive) sustainability impacts all at once. At the same time, it should be noted that the introduction of a PSS has profound consequences for all aspects of the company and can be challenging. The sales department will need to refocus, making a shift from maximising product sales volume to marketing of service offerings. The maintenance / service (and perhaps a new refurbishing) department need to interact closely with the R&D department to ensure product design is optimised for use in a PSS.

Another challenge may be posed by the nature of the products of your company: fast moving consumer goods may for instance not appear to be as suitable for a PSS as durable goods, and may require a more radical change from the current business as usual. We would be pleased to take up the challenge and assist in assessing the possibilities a PSS can have for your company and your partners in the supply chain.


More information:

Successful 4th edition of the Week of Agricultural Entrepreneurship

AgriProFocus Niger organized the 4th edition of the Week of Agricultural Entrepreneurship (SEMEA) in Niamey, Niger in November 2016. Over 8,000 participants from different regions of the country and abroad came together for meaningful exchanges, innovation and building business partnerships.


The African economy is largely dependent on the rural sector (agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry) with an estimated contribution to GDP at 43.2% in 2010. The rural sector occupies 85% of the active population and provides 37% of export earnings (INS, 2014).

However, crises affect agricultural production systems. Vegetable crops, many of which are self-consumed, are characterized by low yields.

The SEMEA is aimed at agricultural development, economic and social development and poverty reduction in Niger. Participants came from farmers’ organizations, government members, NGOs, banks, microfinance institutions, research institutions, youth organizations, retailers and the private sector.

AgriProFocus first organized the Week of Agricultural Entrepreneurship in Niger in 2012. The 2016 edition was organized in collaboration with the YAWWA project of SNV to promote farms, but also entrepreneurs and agribusiness operators. The SEMEA aimed to put youth at the heart of agricultural entrepreneurship.

AgriProFocus is an international multi-stakeholder network in the agri-food sector consisting of farmer entrepreneurs, private sector enterprises, governments, knowledge institutions and civil society organisations. By bringing these stakeholders together, their individual and collective impact increases. AgriProFocus is active in 13 countries in Africa and South-East Asia, and links 22,000 agribusiness professionals worldwide.

In Niger, Partners for Innovation hosts the AgriProFocus network and provides its coordination staff.


Rakia Gazibou

Website Agriprofocus en Agriprofocus Niger

Website SNV

Renewable energy in Africa – 12 years of experience

Two pupils of a secondary school in Roermond ask if they can visit Partners of Innovation in Amsterdam. They are writing a paper on renewable energy in South Africa and are eager to ask Emiel some questions. Having twelve years of experience in the field, Emiel is  happy to share some of his experience and inside information.

¨My work on renewable energy in Africa started when we conducted a research for the European Commission in 2005. We wanted to know more about market opportunities for European companies to invest in renewable energy in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Our involvement was surprising to begin with, because no one of our team had ever been there. But we worked together with 15 local advisors.

The European Commission elected our project proposal because of our approach: not only did we want to explore investment opportunities for companies in Europe, we also focused on the people in the countries there. If we want to make a change for the long term, we need to consolidate activities for and with the people living there.

We selected 5 countries in each continent, 5 from Asia, 5 from Latin America and 5 from Africa. Using data from the World Bank, we could extrapolate our findings from these 15 countries to countries we hadn´t researched. In this way, we were able to provide useful information about more than 100 developing countries.

Core of our approach was the contact we had (and made) with local organizations and experts. We found them by searching the internet. Some people came up more than once in our searches and we knew they played an important role. We asked these experts if they wanted to cooperate and get involved in our project.

Key things we wanted to find out was the do´s and don´ts of renewable project investments by looking at the existing ones. What was working well and what was causing problems? This is vital information for new project ideas. To our surprise, we saw that the majority of projects were donor driven, supported by foreign NGO money. Once the money supply stopped, the activities came to an end too. People were unsufficiently attached to the activities to be able to carry them forward without (financial) help from abroad.

Another thing that led to problems were cultural differences. In a project of Solar Home Systems in Indonesia, we saw that the collection of money from the homes with solar panels installed was a problem. The families didn´t trust the guy who was sent to collect the money. The reason, so it turned out to be, was the age of the young man, an older man didn´t have any problems earning the trust and receiving the money.

In the years after 2005 I focused more and more on Sub Saharan Africa. In both Asia and Latin America there was already much work in progress in renewable energy. In Sub Saharan Africa there´s almost nothing, most of the people don´t even have electricity and use traditional fuels like charcoal and fire wood for cooking.

One project that became a success is Bio2Watt in South Africa. Bio2Watt is aimed at producing biofuels using animal (cow) manure. In 2009 I worked on a project proposal to find suitable fiancial funding for the initial idea. At this moment, it´s the largest producer of biofuels in South Africa and probably the whole of Sub Saharan Africa, supplying the BMW factory.¨

What do you think has the most potential in Sub Sahara Afrika?

¨After having experience with all types of renewable energy projects I believe bioenergy has the best chances of financial viability. In this part of the world people are still very dependent on agriculture. It´s the largest economic sector and therefore has the most potential to get results. Now, a lot of organic waste streams and residues are not being re-used but are potentially a great source of energy. The companies that are successful often grow a combination of crops, and don´t just grow one product.

Currently I´m working on a feasablity study on converting household waste to energy in Ogun State in Nigeria. This is a very interesting project, since it´s a new approach for that region. In many places people still use diesel generators, our project aims at replacing them in the future with more sustainable alternatives.¨

Dutch Agreement on Resources paves way to circular economy

On January 24th the Dutch government and 180 parties signed the Agreement on Resources. Partners for Innovation too, was one of the signers.

It is agreed that in 2050 that the Dutch economy is completely ‘circular’. To accomplish this, every party (research institutes, companies, governmental bodies) formulated its own ambitions.

Our mission: closing material cycles

Our mission is to close material cycles by working with partners on:
  • products and packaging that are fully recyclable
  • high value secondary material streams
  • litter prevention
  • products made of recyclable materials (biobased/recycled and in some cases biodegradable)
  • smart technology supporting Circular Economy
  • products and packaging with a positive (environmental) impact

And this is what we do:


  • set up and coordinate circular innovation projects with (chain)partners
  • give CIRCO Design Classes and Business Design Tracks
  • conduct Life Cycle Assessments & Quick scans
  • have written the “Guidelines designing with recycled plastics” and we can support companies in implementing the guidelines
  • carry out surveys and feasibility studies
  • write successful project proposals to obtain financing


Beside signing the Agreement on Resources, Partners for Innovation plays an active role in the creation of the Supply Chain Agreement on Plastics. We work together with partners in the supply chain on appliances for PHA and in another project we are looking for ways to solve the problems in the silicon sealant tubes in the plastics cycle.


Ingeborg Gort-Duurkoop

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