"NLR doesn't only focus on the big fish, but also pays attention to SMEs and industry"

NLR supports the entire Netherlands aviation industry

We first contacted NLR early in the new millennium, with the EU project NEWSCREEN, in which 13 EU partners participated. The project involved the development of large-scale cockpit LCD, which was then based on NDF's conventional CCFL backlight techno-logy, which is where NDF started out. This technology had, however, reached the end of its lifecycle and we had to take steps to keep pace with aviation in the area of cockpit display units. Ultimately, this led to the DERPHOSA project, in which we matured our ARPHOS® technology for aviation.

Dutch companies working in aviation soon find their way to NLR. We had good chemistry with the institute right from the start. NLR wanted to support Dutch industry. In most instances, SMEs are not eligible to run EU projects, whereas larger research institutes like NLR can take the lead.

NLR's staff take a matter-of-fact approach; open and straightforward. That's very pleasant, because there are no hidden agendas. The project result has priority, not vested interests. Sometimes problems delay a project, which is a challenge for smaller businesses with lower capacity. But NLR is quick to offer support under such circumstances or to take over certain tasks, which I find really pleasant.

We take pride in the fact that the DERPHOSA project enabled us to launch a product within 2.5 years, working in collaboration with four partners. We even took it up in the air in NLR's Citation laboratory plane. This paves the way to commercial application of this technology. We also want to involve NLR in this aspect, via the EU's Fast Track to Innovation Pilot (FTI).

Technology is developing exponentially; what you come up with today could be outdated tomorrow. SMEs need to keep pace, because all the lines run through to the bigger players. Smaller businesses simply cannot have all the expertise in-house. That's why we look to NLR and other institutes. And NLR doesn't only focus on the big fish, but also pays attention to SMEs and industry.

SMEs know that NLR, with its wealth of expertise, is capable of helping aviation companies to close the gap between concept and realisation, which is where the real business is generated. NLR supports the entire Netherlands aviation industry. Without NLR, things would be impossible for SMEs. Larger industry seeks its own solutions, but there are a lot of smaller suppliers in the aviation business that rely on this kind of support.

Coen van 't Westeinde | NDF Special Light Products BV, Managing Director