At Antea Group Belgium, they consider it their duty to contribute to solutions for the social issues of today and tomorrow. Their vision is reflected in a focus on five domains: smart energy landscapes, liveable cities, resilient coasts and estuaries, sustainably growing ports and climate-proof society. Their services focus on full-service solutions in the fields of environment, infrastructure, space and water. We spoke with Klaas Nijs, Contract & Innovation Manager at Antea Group, to learn more about their activities.
How do you summarise Antea Group's cleantech innovation?
"Innovation is central to our approach. Every day, we look for new concepts and smart solutions that provide answers to the challenges of the future. Our colleagues are free to submit research proposals for this purpose, and we set aside a nice budget each year to be able to set up a considerable number of research projects within our company." says Klaas Nijs.
"A good example of this is our Water Stewardship programme. With this, we are developing a methodology and toolkit that can build a service package for industrial clients that guarantees access to reliable and qualitative water flows. We do this by applying the principles of circular water management tailored to the customer and pursuing water security for the community in which they operate."
What is your impact on society?
"We work on relevant solutions for an ever-changing world. We look for opportunities where we can contribute to 'the world of tomorrow' with our services. That may sound abstract, but in concrete terms it concerns projects that can have a real impact within our five domains.
An example is our participation in ROLECS (Roll Out of Local Energy Communities): a research project to change the energy landscape in line with the European Commission's position of more sustainable and active participation of the end consumer through local energy communities. This concept is a real game-changer within the energy transition. Together with some 30 project partners, we are working on the future of our energy system.
By the way, it is not only about our projects, but also about what we do ourselves and the impact we can realise with it. For example, we are particularly proud that in 2020 Antea Group achieved the level of 'SDG Pioneer' within the Voka Charter for Sustainable Business. And we will continue to work towards the SDGs in the future. In addition, in 2021 we will start with climate proofing our business by means of the CO2 performance ladder."
What are the biggest challenges for you in Flanders ?
"The biggest challenge for us is the increasing 'war on talent'. Fortunately, we manage to attract good and talented colleagues, but it is certain that there is a high need in Belgium for sufficiently qualified employees with the right technical know-how and competences.
The rapid development of new digital techniques also remains a challenge. We cannot keep up with all the new innovative and agile players on the market, nor is that our ambition.
Specialisation is there for a reason. We do take on a role as 'early mover' within our specialisations, by linking these innovations to our services, and thus to be a leader. That is why we see significant added value in platforms such as Cleantech Flanders and/or the Flemish spearhead clusters. They can bring together the knowledge spread across numerous Flemish companies and accelerate their further development and applications."