CompoWorld officially started for business in the Dutch town of Emmeloord in the province of Flevoland. CompoWorld was established as a joint venture between the National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands (NLR), institutes of education, and private sector companies. Its object is to put Flevoland on the map as the country’s premier centre for the development and application of composite. For 2012, the Flevoland provincial government has allocated CompoWorld more than €677,000 out of a regional investment fund.

New composite products Composite is a very light material used for the construction of ships, planes, and bicycles, as well as for other purposes. The CompoWorld Foundation has brought together parties including NLR, Fokker Landing Gear BV, the Friese Poort Regional Training Center, and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences. They plan to stimulate the composite sector in Flevoland, attract new business activity, and bring together entrepreneurs and researchers. This collaborative effort is expected to result in the development and faster marketing of new composite products. Within four years, this should have led to the creation of an economic composite cluster in the north of Flevoland province.

Breeding ground CompoWorld will organise hands-on education in composites, in association with institutes of education. It will also endeavour to get companies to switch from steel to composite. Furthermore, an incubator function will be created at NLR. This will serve as a breeding ground for entrepreneurs and companies, and is dedicated to supporting firms , start-up businesses in particular , specialising in composite on the road to becoming healthy and efficient businesses.

Strategic spearhead NLR has made composite one of its strategic spearheads. It is why the organisation has invested in facilities such as a new fibre placement machine that can be used to make prototypes. The machine is capable of processing different types of composite materials, and of making objects in more complex shapes and with a higher TRL level. Besides producing prototypes, NLR uses this facility to conduct fundamental research. Among other things, it is possible to determine accurately how long it will take to produce a certain object, and what properties the object will possess.

NLR and CompoWorld NLR’s participation in CompoWorld will further reinforce its position as an R&D centre for Dutch industry. In concrete terms, NLR will offer students research and work experience placements. The benefits of this approach are twofold. Students will gain practical experience while inputting the latest theoretical knowledge at the same time. And if they subsequently begin their own businesses, they will already be familiar with NLR, and will know who to approach for know-how and advice.