4 Dutch projects you should know about

Now in Beijing, I spent the last two weeks in the Netherlands. Here are four Dutch projects that inspired me.

1. Ocean Cleanup
Boyan Slat’s ocean cleanup addresses a truly super-national problem (floating waste in oceans), with no direct commercial benefit to the founders. Supported by a young founder who combines a hacker-ethic with deep skill in involving the public (the team raised $2.1M through crowdfunding) , you see why it’s easy to be a fan. Boyan would fit well between the Thiel fellows.

2. Vandebron
Vandebron is a platform for Dutch citizens to buy renewable power from local farmers with excess electricity production. The idea of decentralized electricity sharing is promoted by many, but Vandebron is the first company I know that has successfully created a platform through which individual citizens can sell and buy power, becoming an “airbnb for electricity” as Matthew and I wrote on RMI’s blog.

3. Smart Highways
During the Singularity Summit in Amsterdam last week, Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde showed the audience two of his latest pilot projects: a bicycle-path inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Nights” and a glow-in-the-dark paint that can illuminate highways without overhead lighting. Roosegaarde’s ability to apply natural inspiration to objects in our physical world like roads, churches, and public parks in an artistic way fascinates me. Watch his excellent Zomergasten video here. Highly recommended!

4. Stroomversnelling
During a visit to Shell with Amory, Maaike Witteveen told me about this project to reduce energy consumption of Dutch residential buildings, called “rijtjeshuizen”, by 80 percent, by adding insulating wall panels, superwindows, solar PV, an air source heat pump. Led by BAM, a Dutch developer, and financed by housing cooperatives, incentives between tenants and the housing cooperative align: tenants reduce rent when using less energy; housing cooperatives reduce costs. Maaike and I will soon post a blog describing the potential of the concept on RMI’s blog. For now, here’s a description from the Guardian.

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