PortXL welcomes new partner MINDbase: the ‘innovation hub’ of the Dutch Ministry of Defence

The Netherlands-based maritime start-up accelerator PortXL has signed a partnership agreement with MINDbase Rotterdam, one of the ‘hubs’ of the Dutch Ministry of Defence’s innovation organisation.

Since its founding in 2015, PortXL has facilitated the growth of more than 100 start-up and scale-up companies. Working in close cooperation with its industry partners – which include the Port of Rotterdam, Van Oord, Boskalis, Rotterdam City Council, Damen Shipyards, and GTT – PortXL’s range of focus has been concentrated on the maritime, energy, logistics and refinery sectors. With this latest partner ‘acquisition’ of MINDbase, PortXL’s scope has broadened to now also encompass military applications.

MINDbase works under the umbrella of COMMIT (in English: Materiel and IT Command), which is one of the six branches of the Dutch Ministry of Defence. COMMIT ensures that Dutch military personnel work with modern, robust and safe materiel and IT. To accomplish this, a significant part of COMMIT’s duties is the purchase and maintenance of materiel. MINDbase was established in 2020 to stimulate military-focused innovations; its activities take place at the RDM Innovation Dock in Rotterdam in addition to locations in Eindhoven and Enschede.

MINDbase Innovation Manager Major Rick Zagers explains the motivations in becoming a PortXL partner. “The time when the Ministry of Defence was smarter than the market is not a given anymore; today’s commercial sector is most of the times more innovative, adaptive and faster. Therefore, we as the Ministry of Defence have had to accelerate.”

In its role of connecting the Ministry of Defence with market innovations, MINDbase’s location is crucial. “Staying behind the fences of our barracks makes it very difficult to learn about and make contact with innovative companies from the commercial sector. That’s why we are located here at the Innovation Dock in Rotterdam – and this is where we came into contact with PortXL.”

“The work of PortXL aligns very well with what we are looking for,” Zagers goes on to say. “Looking at how the global political and military situation has changed in the previous two years, we have had to re-focus on our core task of defending our own territory and the territory of our allies. Moreover, we need to do more with less. The potential of this partnership is enormous. I have no doubt that this is going to be a very interesting process.”

“We are so proud to welcome MINDbase to the PortXL organisation; the military has always been a frontrunner when it comes to innovation,” says Christel Pullens, PortXL Managing Director. “We have been working together ‘under the radar’ in the past few months and this has been very exciting – not only for us but also for our other partners. The Ministry of Defence has similar challenges to our other partners, but they look at things from a different angle. Safety, of course, is key. But also, due to a shortage of personnel they are very interested in digitalisation and automation. Last but not least, increasing the sustainability of operations is unsurprisingly an important area of focus.”