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Peter Paul van ’t Veen, business developer Innovation for Development

Peter Paul has 30 years experience of developing and managing innovations, for example in high-tech, the processing industry, construction, and the maritime industry. He now makes use of this experience in TNO innovation projects in low and middle-income countries.
Peter Paul van ’t Veen, business developer Innovation for Development, TNO

‘TNO achieves an impact on society not only in the Netherlands and Europe, but also in low and middle-income countries. We do this under the heading Innovation for Development (I4D). In this work, we are guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. It is precisely TNO’s societal impact that is a major driver for me, and that is why I’ve been working here with great pleasure and fulfilment for 30 years.’

Seven-year itch

‘When I applied for my current job as business developer in the I4D programme, I was Director Market for the Construction, Infrastructure & Maritime unit. I’d been doing that job for seven years when I began to get itchy feet and asked myself: “Am I going to set new goals for myself and the unit or do I perhaps want something very different?”

From experience, I know that I get a lot of energy from change. You learn new things, you meet new people, and you encounter different challenges. When we were asked whether our unit might want to become co-financer of this business development position at I4D, I thought: “Why don’t I do it myself?”’

30 years’ experience

‘At TNO I’ve gained a lot of experience in a wide variety of markets, developing new technologies and setting up new programmes with public and private partners, in the areas of the energy transition and the circular economy, among others. These are also important topics in the low and middle-income countries where TNO collaborates with local stakeholders. I take my 30 years’ experience with me to this specific domain with its own challenges.’

Towards a sustainable economy

‘The challenges facing many countries in Africa and Asia are enormous. In Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi, for example, economic and population growth are resulting in increasing amounts of waste. All three countries want to switch to a more circular economy. TNO identifies the waste streams, selects the best solutions for creating value from the waste, and develops a roadmap for how to deal with the largest waste streams, now and in the future. We do this in close collaboration with local partners. The project is funded by the Climate and Technology Center & Network (CTCN), which is a UN initiative.

Another I4D project is setting up a training centre for sustainable energy on Bali. For this venture, we are carrying out a study and writing a business plan. The centre will ultimately make a contribution to the greening of Bali by ensuring knowledge transfer and training courses. It will work as a model for knowledge transfer and the training of sustainability professionals for the whole of Indonesia. It’s great that as TNO, we can contribute to this.’


‘TNO has a lot to offer internationally, not only in the area of technology, but also in developing sustainable business models and upscaling strategies that can benefit developing countries. TNO does not engage in upscaling itself; our partners, private entrepreneurs and public authorities take the lead in this. Ultimately, it’s about the impact they achieve.’


Innovation for development

TNO's Innovation for Development (I4D) program innovates in low- and middle income countries with the aim to improve the lives of 2 billion people living below poverty level (World Bank, 2021). In close... Read more
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