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24 SmartPort: BY THESSA LAGEMAN / IMAGE ISTOCK T he city's energy agreement requires Rotterdam to be climate-neutral by 2050. That also applies to the port, which has the largest petro­ chemical cluster in Europe. It is not going to happen overnight. Moreover, the Port of Rotterdam Authority found that scientific research was not ade­ quatelymeeting the needs of companies in the port, says Elisabeth van Opstall, the director of SmartPort. 'The transition to practical applications is often lacking. New challenges, developments and trends raise all kinds of questions for companies,' she explains. 'There is enor- mous demand for the right information as a basis for important decisions about the future.' Since 2015, SmartPort has been forging alliances, encouraging and financing innovative research and disseminating knowledge. The aim is to accelerate innovations in the port of Rotterdam. To achieve the climate ambition, it is important to identify the smartest ways to make the energy transition, the transition to alternatives for fossil fuels, possible. Electrification technologies must be ready for commercial use by 2030 in order to replace fossil fuels such as gas, coal and oil. SmartPort is there- fore encouraging and financing research into electrification and smart logistics in order to make the transport chains even more sustainable, reliable and efficient. Establishing connections Eight parties, including Deltares, have now joined SmartPort: the Port of Rotterdam Authority, the City of Rotter­ dam, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Delft University of Technology, TNO, the Province of South Holland and the Delta­ linqs business association, which repre- sents the interests of more than 700 companies in the port of Rotterdam. The knowledge platform has a large, ever-expanding network. 'We often get feedback from companies. They tell us if you hadn't brought us in, I wouldn't have spoken to this or that organisation,' says Van Opstall. At least two, and often more, companies are involved in every research project. In that way, we are bringing science and the 'real world' together. And that also means that, as a non-profit organisation, SmartPort doesn't provide support for specific companies. SmartPort has beenwith us for four years now. The knowledge platform for companies, researchers and government wants Rotterdamto have the smartest and best port in theworld by 2030.What has been achieved so far? Delta Life looks back – and ahead – with director Elisabeth vanOpstall. BRIDGE BETWEEN P AND SCIENCE