Incite, pioneer, spur, strengthen, help, bring together, innovate. These are verbs that Anne-Wil Lucas herself could have come up with. The brand-new Innovation and Internationalization Manager of NOM is itching to show this in 'her' Northern Netherlands.
Concepts of startups and innovation run like a thread through Anne-Wil Lucas's life. As a member of the House of Representatives, she championed them. In her position at Startup Delta after that, she did it again, as she did in Twente, where she was area director knowledge park for the last four years. And now she may bring that fire to bear in the Northern Netherlands. In her Northern Netherlands.
'It certainly feels that way. I've lived here since 2000. I'm very happy to now be working in and for my own region. I've always been of the opinion that you should do something for about four years, and then move on. But this time it feels different. And that definitely has to do with knowing that I can make a difference here for my own region.
Aldeboarn. That's where she lives, but for more than twenty years she and her husband Perry Lucas operated restaurant De Slotplaats in Bakkeveen, just about at the three-province point. Corona forced her to say goodbye to that beloved spot. 'That was hard to swallow, but now we have a living room restaurant in the middle of the village, among the people. Still, that gives us a lot again.'
The O of develop
It characterizes Anne-Wil Lucas's optimistic nature. She thinks in terms of possibilities and opportunities, without assuming that things will work themselves out. In the Northern Netherlands the ecosystem is quite strong, but we can still get more out of it. I also see that as one of my important tasks. I will strengthen ties with innovative platforms, I will continue to tell the story everywhere about how we can strengthen each other.'
'I think NOM has an important role to play in this. We have to be subservient in the ecosystem. We must ensure that innovations are given space by standing alongside the entrepreneurs. I sometimes compare the ecosystem to a construction project. Sometimes we are one brick, sometimes the architect, sometimes the general contractor, often the subcontractor. We have to do what is in the best interest of the building.'
In that respect, the appointment (as of November 1) of Anne-Wil Lucas fits perfectly into the development that NOM has been going through in recent years. In short: it must again be more about the O of development, which is much more than just investing. The appointment of Marco de Jong to the role of Investment Manager last year also fits in with that ambition.
What do we want?
Lucas is ambitious. In addition to managing a sizeable team, she especially dives into the opportunities in the region. The North needs to be put more firmly on the map and we need to do that ourselves. Green chemistry, energy, water, that is being recognized more and more nationally. But it could be tighter. We have to think about the question: what do we want, who do we want to be? And then: what activity fits with that? The time when we were happy with all the companies that wanted to come this way is over. We have something to offer and we have to propagate that and make choices.' She cites the province of Friesland as an example of how that should be done. 'It has taken quite a risk by betting heavily on one horse: water technology. With the campus, Wetsus and the Water Alliance there is now an ecosystem of stature. I think that is worth a compliment. It is building mass with the help of the government until the system grows by itself. This can also be done in other areas in the Northern Netherlands. I'm going to help with that.
According to her, this will especially succeed if NOM becomes even more visible as an organization and builds on its reputation. 'Quite honestly: in my time as a member of parliament and later with Startup Delta, I regularly came into contact with ROMs, but NOM was still a bit of an unknown. The same is true in the region itself. I would say: let's attend as many meetings as possible in a bright green NOM sweater. And then with the message that we are there to help you further. That's how I see it. Start-ups and entrepreneurs with innovations should quickly come across us and know: 'those from NOM are thinking with me'. We know a lot and should dare to contribute our expertise in many more places. So get out there.
But not just like that. Focused. Lucas has another ambition that will take a bit longer, which is to change the culture around attracting companies. 'We should no longer look primarily at the number of FTEs brought in. Other values are - and are becoming - increasingly important. What about sustainability, is such a company making optimal use of the conditions here?'
From Volume to Value, in other words. Steering for quality is that, for the sake of the ecosystem. 'It is up to us to look more specifically for companies from abroad that will help us strengthen what we are good at, or want to become even better at. That's what it's all about. We have to dare to be choosy. The question we should ask is: How happy are the other innovation promoters in our region with such an acquisition? In short, we need to start looking with different eyes. That is quite a change, but it can be done, as long as we know what we want.
Pioneering she wants to do, gaining momentum and momentum. Not alone, but with a whole team. 'Plenty to do and we are already busy. This is possible because the innovation and internationalization team is really good. Inspired, a lot of knowledge and expertise, good at working under difficult circumstances. I understand that this sounds a bit trite, but I really mean it. From The Hague I had always understood that good people worked at NOM. And now I discover that this is true. The network is extremely good. We are now going to make even more use of it. We are taking more of a lead in the system around innovations.'
No shortage of energy, no shortage of ambition either. Anne-Wil Lucas talks about it as if she had been working at NOM for years, and had been angling for a position at the Society for much longer. Yet barely three months have passed since her appointment, and it came about quite by accident. 'I was made aware on Friday of the vacancy whose response period closed two days later. That's where I got lucky, I can already say.'