Fujifilm Tilburg believes in social and technological innovation, aimed at sustainable solutions. That is why Fuji and other international organizations decided to build a shared wastewater treatment plant at Vossenberg business park. “Local ties play an important role in this project,” says managing director Peter Struik.

Five windmills mark the Fujifilm Tilburg site – part of Fuji’s European headquarters and, with 850 employees, the Japanese multinational’s largest foreign production site. The windmills are the company’s power supply for the production of photographic paper, offset printing plates and membranes.

New direction

The windmills also symbolize the company’s new direction. The advent of digital photography early this century heralded the end of an era in which photo rolls were manufactured. “In three years’ time, we went from peak production to closure,” says the managing director. The Tilburg branch decided to commit itself to innovation, mostly sustainable products, based on the company’s in-house knowledge.

One example is the production of membranes for water and gas purification. Another application is energy generation. This is done in an experimental facility at the Afsluitdijk, with a technology utilizing the transition from fresh to salt water. If this Blue Energy trial is successful, the innovation can be applied anywhere where rivers flow into seas. “We mainly search for growth markets,” says Peter. “Clean water is one of them, as is sustainable power generation.”

Shared wastewater plant

There is also a new water treatment plant on the Fujifilm site. The plant purifies wastewater from Fuji, Coca Cola, IFF and Agristo. The final product is so clean it can be discharged directly into the nearby Wilhelmina channel. Water authority De Dommel and Engie also participate in the project.

Building your own water treatment system would have been more expensive than a shared one and not nearly as sustainable. In Peter’s opinion, this treatment plant is a good example of social innovation. “You may go faster on your own, but together, you can go the distance.”

Open Innovation Hub

Together you can go the distance is also the idea behind the Open Innovation Hub. In 2016, Fujifilm Tilburg opened a space on its site where companies and institutes can collaborate on product development. External relations as well as employees from other branches can benefit from the technological knowledge on site.

To show what can be achieved at the hub, the Fujifilm Future Challenge for students from Tilburg was organized. The winning team devised an indicator which shows the preservability of your product.

According to Peter, people will always need a place to physically meet; where ideas come together. “Just look at companies like Google and Apple, which both have its own campus.”