Ferdinand van Kampen: “Building together towards the future of green chemistry in South Limburg”


“The transition to a green and circular economy is a complex but necessary step for regions dependent on traditional industries. In South Limburg, this challenge has taken shape through a unique collaboration between educational institutions, the business sector, and the government, aimed at creating a sustainable future.”

“Central to this collaboration are the Just Transition Fund (JTF) projects, which strengthen each other in a structured ecosystem. The projects, supported by various educational levels and with a clear goal in mind, illustrate a deep connection to the region and its future prosperity. Ferdinand van Kampen, advisor to the Board of VISTA college and chairman of the steering committee of the Collaborative Network Ecosystems Limburg (SNEL), explains how these coordinated efforts shape the region.

JTF projects in South Limburg seamlessly connect with each other.

ZUYD University of Applied Sciences (hbo), VISTA college (mbo), CHILL (Chemelot Innovation and Learning Labs), and Leo Career are running a JTF project. “The goal of our JTF project, the so-called ‘VISTA Transition Network Academy,’ is to set up a vocational training infrastructure that matches the labor demand of technology companies investing in processes for green chemistry, green energy, and circular materials, as well as training (future) employees in the necessary transition skills. This involves lateral and upward mobility of employees into the green process industry,” says Ferdinand van Kampen, advisor to the Board of VISTA college and chairman of the steering committee of the Collaborative Network Ecosystems Limburg (SNEL).”

Engagement at all levels and from all stakeholders

“In addition, there are other projects running in the region that are all coordinated with each other. Consider a project focused on the HR community (talent recruitment) or one that supports individuals in choosing a job within green chemistry, or looks at how people distanced from the labor market can be engaged. SNEL, too, with the Growth Fund subsidy obtained, boosts the circular economy in Limburg by linking green chemistry to the built environment and ICT. Thus, we are committed at all levels, from all involved stakeholders, with the goal of recruiting, developing, and retaining the necessary technical talent for the region. We do this in a coordinated and harmonized way,” says Van Kampen.

Ecosystem approach from Chemelot Circular Hub

“We truly work from an ecosystem approach involving knowledge and educational institutions, the business sector, the province, municipalities, and other labor market parties such as the Collaborative Organization for Vocational Education and Business (SBB) and UWV. The approach is based on labor market needs and new technologies. After all, talent is needed to implement new technologies in the market. By working from an ecosystem approach, the various 3- to 4-year projects that are currently running – together worth almost 50 million euros – will reinforce each other and thereby increase their impact. UM, Zuyd, and VISTA are key players in all this, as well as the Chemelot Circular Hub, which was formed as an important connecting network in 2021. Fortunately, with this wide palette of connected parties, we see that the transition to green chemistry is crucial for South Limburg and that we must do this together,” emphasizes Van Kampen.”