This September, the medieval Rolduc Abbey in Kerkrade, a UNESCO world heritage site, will once again host the 2019 edition of the international Brightlands Polymer Conference. During this three-day event, entrepreneurs, researchers, students and managers exchange information and forge new relationships. This year’s event will focus on the developments in biomedical (bio) synthetics for medical applications.
Held for the first time in 1984 under the auspices of DSM, the Brightlands Rolduc Polymer Conference has since grown to become a prestigious event with speakers and participants from dozens of countries. One of the keynote speakers at this year’s event is the American professor Robert Grubbs, 2005 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. “This really says something,” confirms Marnix van Gurp, managing director of the Materials Center at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen and chairman of the conference’s organizing committee. “We asked him to be a speaker and he accepted our invitation. He’s not the only interesting speaker however. Spread out over two conference days, another ten researchers and other business leaders will take the stage, including Dutch and Western European universities and major companies such as DSM, Sabic, Evonik and Johnson & Johnson.”
The renowned speakers are indispensable for an appealing conference program, according to Erica van den Oever, organizer of the conference on behalf of Brightlands Chemelot Campus. “But it’s about more than just the speakers, of course. Our primary goal for the Brightlands Rolduc Polymer Conference is to create the connection between the academic and industrial worlds. This is quite unique since most conferences are either focused on academics or business. We bring these two worlds together in the exact same way we do this at the four Brightlands campuses. When you foster the exchange of information between researchers, entrepreneurs and students, new ideas and partnerships develop. We do this at Rolduc, a small-scale, intimate setting, so that the participants will also have the opportunity to get to know each other better and listen to one another.”
“This has proved to be a really good formula in the past,” Marnix van Gurp adds. “There is naturally also time for excursions and company visits at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen and the Brightlands Health Campus in Maastricht. We’re eager to show them what we have built in recent years in Limburg, this ecosystem that focuses on life sciences, new materials and sustainability, something we think we have earned the right to be proud of. The accent is however on networking, on arriving at new innovative solutions for the challenges we face today, in the intimate setting of Rolduc.”
Those involved in the organization of the Brightlands Rolduc Polymer Conference include Brightlands, the Province of Limburg, Maastricht University, RWTH Aachen University, DSM, Sabic and the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials. “We’ve created a broad, cross-border support base in other words,” Marnix van Gurp continues. “It’s also a reflection of the times we live in, where international business and science join forces to find new solutions to major challenges. This edition of the event focus entirely on synthetic materials for biomedical applications. This might be packaging materials or materials to manufacture equipment, or to transport medicines to the desired location in the body. It might also involve developing biodegradable bio-plastics on which to grow new, healthy cells in organs.”
Developments in this area are occurring at a rapid pace, according to Erica van den Oever. “At Rolduc, we bring together as many experts and entrepreneurs as possible to exchange knowledge and experience. In addition to the speakers we have invited, around 60 researchers and entrepreneurs will also present the results of new studies and current developments. We review all of these abstracts first. There is also plenty of time for informal meet-ups and networking during breaks, lunches and dinners. Since a few of the participants spend the night at the abbey, we have put together an evening program.”
Two awards will be presented during the conference: the Brightlands Rolduc Award for the best presentation of the most promising study conducted by a young researcher, and the Brightlands Rolduc Poster Award. “In addition to business and the academic world, we explicitly target students in the last phase of their study program,” Marnix van Gurp says. “They can get to know Brightlands and the international world of new biomedical materials. Who knows? They may even start their careers here. You won’t find this much knowledge and skills concentrated at one location anywhere else.”
Interested parties may register for one, two or three days. Special discounted rates apply for students and institutes.