Fujifilm selects Brabant’s collaboration power to boost innovation

The Japanese company, Fujifilm, has existed for over eighty years and has global presence in more than one hundred countries on every continent. Five decades ago, Fujifilm moved into Europe and selected Tilburg in Brabant to open its first European production plant. With open innovation and sustainable solutions forming the cornerstones of Fujifilm’s transformation strategy, the global leader chose to be located in Brabant because of its clean climate, exceptional R&D infrastructure, abundance of highly talented people and the region’s unique global offering in cutting-edge collaboration.

One of the largest in the world

Today, Tilburg employs some 850 people, making it one of Fujifilm’s largest manufacturing divisions in the world as well as one of the biggest industrial employers in central Brabant. In addition to manufacturing, the site is home to Fujifilm’s European R&D center and key European head office corporate functions with IT, Purchasing, Logistics and Finance represented there. Most recently, in 2016, Fujifilm reinforced its commitment to the region by opening a new European Open Innovation Hub at the site – only the third hub of its kind from Fujifilm in the world.

Brabant continues to play a pivotal role in Fujifilm’s transformation journey focused on open innovation and sustainable solutions to protect and build a brighter world. “Our Tilburg Research Laboratory has been transformed from a developer of film and photographic paper into an R&D organization for the development of new products.” Peter Struik, President of Fujifilm Manufacturing Europe, says. “We are also accessing new markets, including the healthcare industry and sectors requiring sustainable and environmentally friendly products."

"Our newest product, membranes, based on our nanotechnology, is developed here in Tilburg. Thanks to these innovations, Fujifilm in Tilburg has become incredibly important within the global value chain.” Peter Struijk - Fujifilm

Photographic materials and offset plates for the European, Middle Eastern and African markets are produced in Tilburg as well as membranes that are used, amongst many other applications, to filter gas, CO2 and water-purification installations.

Open Innovation
Fujifilm’s decision to open a European Open Innovation Hub in Tilburg was driven by the region’s strong high tech expertise and unique collaboration infrastructure. These sophisticated ecosystems cultivate knowledge sharing and facilitate the coming together of high performing industry experts for the greater good.  With a third of Brabant’s higher education students opting for science related programs, the continuous pool of new talent remains an attractive motivation for the global technology leader to be based in the region.

By March 2017, Fujifilm had already welcomed close to 850 visitors from 120 different companies to the Open Innovation Hub to discuss innovative technologies and find opportunities for solving technological challenges together. The new facility joins Fujifilm’s two other Open Innovation Hubs located in Japan and the United States.

Commenting on why the company feels very much at home in Brabant, Struik, says, “Fujifilm enjoys excellent relations with the Tilburg municipality, the province of Brabant and the Brabant Development Agency. We are located in a city and province that focuses on doing things. That is evident from the speed with which the required permits are granted, amongst other things. In terms of people and culture, the strong synergy between the Japanese, with their eye for detail, combined with the no-nonsense, just do it attitude of the Dutch, has attained a unique dimension here in Tilburg.”

Struik also praised the level of co-operation with Dutch universities that provides Fujifilm with direct access to the best young talents.  He adds, “As a technology player, we have to keep our eye firmly on the ball and for that we are always looking out for new talent.  On the other hand, deep rooted experience and state-of-the-art facilities are also critical. These are readily available to us here in Tilburg with the High Tech Campus virtually next door.”

Sustainable solutions
The sustainable ambitions of Fujifilm are clearly visible in Tilburg. “They are not just words, but our core values,” Struik explains. “Sustainability is important for the healthy future of Fujifilm and we initially chose Tilburg because of the clear water and air you find here. Since then, five wind turbines have been installed on the production site. Since 2016, 100% of all our power across the entire site is generated by wind energy.  We also collaborated on a joint water purification installation on the Fujifilm site.  This was carried out in partnership with neighboring companies, including Agristo, Coca-Cola and International Flavors and Fragrances, as well as the regional water authority.”

”Brabant’s concentration of eco-systems and unique global offering in cutting-edge collaboration is exceptional. Using this infrastructure to future-proof our business as well as to stimulate growth and development has become part of everyday life for us.” Peter Struik - Fujifilm

After 35 years in Brabant, Fujifilm Manufacturing Europe has established deep roots in the local and regional communities and already made history there. The history books will, however, need to be rewritten, as Fujifilm will never stand still and has a lot more to do in the region.

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