Evert-Jan Donkelaar has recently joined the board of directors at Holland Innovative. As managing director, he is going to lead the office in Eindhoven and is responsible for competence management, strategy and internal operations. In this article, we introduce Evert-Jan, the man behind the manager and his vision on innovation.

Evert-Jan Donkelaar has spent his entire career working on innovation in all its different aspects. He started out in 1985 as a chemist working at Philips Research. In 1990, he joined Philips Displays Components where he ended up as managing director R&D during closure in 2008. After that, he worked for Philips Lighting and Automotive Lighting, which was sold in 2015 and became part of the joint venture Lumileds.

Explore opportunities

Evert-Jan joined Holland Innovative (HI) in the spring of 2020. “What I like about HI is the diversity of projects and the scope of innovation they have,” he says. “I’m charmed by the areas of expertise in which HI operates, like reliability and quality improvement, as well as new fields like data science. I’m looking forward to discovering and developing the new possibilities for our customers together with the team.”

Through HI Evert-Jan worked as Program Execution Manager for Thermo Fisher Scientific on the development of the latest generation of their state-of-the-art electron microscopes for the life science market. These microscopes offered an important contribution to research on the behaviour of the Covid-19 protein, which was published in Nature.

Strategy and organization

At HI Evert-Jan is responsible for the internal organisation and for strengthening and accelerating idea validation and cross-competence development. He will work on developing HI’s business strategy as well. Evert-Jan: “HI has a lot of different competence areas. It’s very important to know how to combine and use these competences effectively for our clients, so that they can improve and we can develop our business case. Because we offer integral product development, it’s the combination of our competences that makes HI so strong.”

Electric and autonomous driving

Evert-Jan is also going to explore the ways in which HI can generate more business in the mobility branch, including automotive, infrastructure and battery management. “That’s an expanding market, and because of my background in automotive and my large automotive network, it’s also a big growth opportunity for HI. I think HI can contribute to innovations in the automotive branch, for instance on topics like electric and autonomous driving, as well as the infrastructure around it with its embedded sensor technology and challenges in battery reach and lifetime development.”

Open innovation

Evert-Jan is a true believer in the idea of open innovation or working together in partnerships to achieve breakthroughs. Traditionally R&D departments were closed off from the outside world, but today innovation demands free transactions of ideas. “For me working together goes beyond company borders,” Evert-Jan explains. “I’m motivated to stimulate that idea with our clients and to bring together business partners and stakeholders for new innovative ideas and projects. Because of HI’s large network, we can really connect those players and contribute to open innovation.”

Exploring the automotive branch will be challenging, he says. “My challenge is to see what role we can play there, for instance with our expertise in data science and reliability engineering. The automotive branch is fairly conservative when it comes to open innovation. But things are changing, especially because of the pressure of electric and autonomous driving. New players like Tesla, Google and Apple are showing that sharing their knowledge and algorithms is good for business.”

The man behind the manager

Evert-Jan is married and has three grown-up children and calls himself a real family man. “On the weekends I like doing things together with my family,” he says. Apart from his passion for innovation and technology, he also loves playing tennis, which he has done for more than 30 years. Two years ago he started playing padel, a new sport that is a crossover between tennis and squash.

His other passion is photography, which he started when he was 16 years old. “I love panorama shots, especially landscapes. When I’m on a business trip and have an extra day, I usually go out with my camera to shoot pictures. I’m attracted to the combination of creativity and technology, just like in my business life.”


Contact Evert-Jan