The Knowledge Sharing Centre (KSC), which originated in the bosom of ASML, recently entered its new phase by establishing a separate foundation. The goal has remained the same: to share knowledge that normally lingers in the brain or notes of an individual engineer with peers who may also benefit from it. With the support from ASML and Thermo Fisher, the initiative is now receiving a new impetus. Hans Meeske, who leads Holland Innovative, and John Blankendaal, director of Brainport Industries, have jointly formed the board of the KSC since the beginning of the year. 

“With our 125 members, we at Brainport Industries demonstrate the importance of knowledge sharing on a daily basis,” says John Blankendaal. “So I didn’t find it surprising when Hans Meeske asked me to join the Knowledge Sharing Centre board. This exactly drives the whole success of our network. The higher your ambitions, the more important knowledge sharing becomes.” Even at the start of Brainport Industries, there was the Center for Manufacturing Technology, which was already a sign of that desire for knowledge sharing, according to Blankendaal. “If you want to develop further as a chain, especially in manufacturing technology, that is almost a prerequisite. Everything that is conceived must also be able to be produced.”


Hans Meeske notes that manufacturability is an underestimated phenomenon, even in the manufacturing industry. “Engineers do not always know how things are made or they design things that are not manufacturable. Simply because they lack knowledge that exists elsewhere. The first focus of the KSC, therefore, lies in sharing knowledge of production techniques and manufacturability.”

This principle is also well visible in the field labs and innovation programs at Brainport Industries Campus, Blankendaal adds. “For example, in the field of 3D printing and digitization. The same could also happen more around production technology, a theme that unfortunately lags a bit behind. That’s about the art of machining, turning, milling, lapping, grinding, you name it all. It really is a craftsmanship that is in danger of being somewhat compromised by the emphasis on digitization. That’s not because they couldn’t shift to digital; it’s simply because you can’t fully digitize lapping itself. Anecdotally, you can create a beautiful digital twin of your house, but you still need that mason who builds it. Of course, we are mechanizing and robotizing, but traditional craftsmanship remains crucial.” 

If only because of his workplace at the Brainport Industries Campus, where education and production are housed under one roof, Blankendaal has perfect insight into the impact of collaboration within the value chain. The short lines of communication with Mikrocentrum and Holland Innovative also help: the most important players for ‘knowledge sharing’ already know how to find each other. In addition, as the initiator, ASML will continue to support the new foundation for the time being, which makes it even more obvious that the KSC can still grow further. “That is certainly true,” Blankendaal confirms. “We now need to take steps in how to get from the abstract idea of knowledge sharing to its concrete implementation. This can be done in knowledge sessions and courses, but also in events such as the Manufacturing Technology Conference that we are organizing again in April together with Mikrocentrum.”

Limit to knowledge sharing

Still, even for Blankendaal, there is a limit to knowledge sharing. “Even within Brainport Industries, this can be the case. Sharing knowledge is fun, but not always with everyone. The good thing is that you can always come to a good agreement about it. Even cooperating parties understand that there can be a competitive advantage that you don’t give away so easily. For example, we once collaborated on a 3D printing project with seven parties. That went very well, but only because at the very beginning, we agreed on what could and could not be shared with each other.”

At the bottom line, the advantages of knowledge sharing still outweigh the disadvantages many times over. Meeske: “If engineering and production share more with each other, it means an acceleration of the learning process for each party involved, easier to find each other and thus ultimately more business. By getting to know each other’s generic knowledge, without immediately throwing your intellectual property up for grabs, we can all grow. That is exactly the opportunity I see: to become smarter together in securing and distributing knowledge, both physically and digitally. I am delighted that John Blankendaal, with all his experience, now joins us in our efforts to take another few steps forward as a total ecosystem.”


Whether that will still be under the name of the Knowledge Sharing Centre is still being determined. Blankendaal announces that the name could just be adapted. “Potato growers or bakers also share knowledge. If we want to be distinctive, there should be something like manufacturing technology in the name so that outsiders know immediately what it is about. That fits nicely with the Manufacturing Technology Conference on April 16.” 

Do you want to know more about the KSC? Do you have ideas or suggestions on how to move the initiative forward? Then get in touch at [email protected].

Tickets for the Manufacturing Technology Conference are available through the event website.



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