Minister De Jonge experiences how Central Brabant is committed to broad prosperity during work visit

11 March 2024

On March 11, minister Hugo de Jonge visited Tilburg and Waalwijk because of the Regio Deal 'Entrepreneurship, innovation and experimentation with people at the center', a four-year cooperation between the state and involved companies, governments and educational and knowledge institutions in the Central Brabant region. The Regio Deal has eight projects of people-oriented innovation, aimed at promoting broad prosperity in the region and our country. The national, regional and provincial governments are jointly investing approximately 37 million euros. Midpoint Brabant is coordinating the Regio Deal. The minister visited MindLabs in Tilburg's Spoorzone and the area where Waalwijk is developing the electric inland port 'Smart Port'.

Photograph: Maurice van den Bosch

Spoorzone Tilburg
At MindLabs, in the heart of the Spoorzone, educational and knowledge institutions of all levels (mbo, hbo, university) work together with companies, governments and social organizations on solutions to social issues. They do this through research and applications of technology and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as embedding this in our society. In the recently opened MindLabs building, Minister De Jonge was explained how interactive digital people ('virtual humans') are developed here to play a serious role in education, healthcare and media.

The minister was also given an explanation of the Regio Deal project Startups for Society that Midpoint Brabant, Tilburg University, Fontys Hogeschool, Avans Hogeschool and the municipality of Tilburg have set up to support start-ups in Central Brabant that strive for social progress. In doing so, many of these startups deploy new technologies to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, healthy and inclusive society. The Spoorzone also provides affordable workplaces for this purpose.

Smart Port Waalwijk
The minister then visited Smart Port Waalwijk, which has the ambition to become the first electric inland port in Europe with a logistics chain of completely zero-emission inland navigation, including terminal and pre- and post-transport. The zero emission inland port will be integrated with a Smart Grid network. The energy required will be generated, stored and used locally for the maritime supply, transshipment and landside handling of goods.Waalwijk alderman Frank Spierings is championing Smart Port Waalwijk: "This is a wonderful project for Waalwijk and the region. A fully electric port adds so much to the broad prosperity of our residents."

Broad prosperity projects
The Regio Deal also focuses on making logistics chains more sustainable, sustainability reporting for SMEs and the biennial public event Van Gogh Homeland. These involve visitors in an attractive way in the major social challenges of our time. In the Neighborhood Approach project, Midpoint Brabant, Tilburg University, Fontys, Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital and the municipalities of Tilburg and Waalwijk are working to increase the livelihood, health, safety and labor participation of residents in vulnerable neighborhoods.

Bas van der Pol, chairman of the Regio Deal steering committee: "With this Regio Deal, entrepreneurs, education, social institutions and governments are investing together in a future-proof economy. Innovation in digitization, circular material flows and the labor market is of great importance for the future of healthcare, education, manufacturing economy, logistics and recreation. The broad prosperity of all our residents is central to this."

Midpoint Brabant director Bas Kapitein adds, "In addition to supporting existing SMEs, this Regio Deal helps companies in their transition to the new economy. Recent research by RaboResearch shows that Midden-Brabant is the national leader in this field. With the Regio Deal projects we explicitly aim for economic and social progress."

Saskia Boelema, deputy (Broad Prosperity) of the province of North Brabant: "With the projects in this Regio Deal, the Central Brabant region is making a positive contribution to the promotion of broad prosperity. But that's not the only thing. Sustainability, health, digitalization, economy, knowledge and talent development are also important themes within this deal. In doing so, the projects align with our provincial policy goals and their realization. The region is energetically putting people first."

Cooperation between the national government and central Brabant
In Regio Deals, the state and region work together to increase the quality of life, housing and work of residents and entrepreneurs. Especially in places that could use an extra impulse. Midpoint Brabant prepared and realized this Regio Deal in cooperation with a large number of entrepreneurs, educational and knowledge institutions, governments and social organizations. The Ministry of the Interior has allocated 12.5 million euros to this Regio Deal. Various parties have increased this amount to over 37 million euros.