Meet our new Business Developer Ernst Jacobs

Ernst, please tell us something about your background

I studied Business Administration at the UG. After finishing my studies, I worked for GasTerra for several years via a consultancy agency. That’s how I got involved in the energy sector. At GasTerra, I worked on projects at the intersection of energy and IT. After that, I worked abroad for a while, including for the European Network of Transmission System Operators in Brussels, which was highly instructive. I then moved on to my previous job at Energie Data Services Nederland (EDSN), a partnership of regional and national grid operators, including Alliander, Enexis, Tennet, and Gasunie. With the developments in the energy sector, our role was becoming bigger and bigger and we grew rapidly in just a few years. At EDSN, I worked as an innovation manager. Together with my team, we sat down with customers and clients to see how we, as an organization, could jointly respond to new developments. This job had a clear link to my work here.

What will you be doing at Business Generator Groningen?

In February, I started as a Business Developer Energy and Digitization and I am now busy screening and scouting potentially promising research results in this field. This is something I do in close cooperation with the Jantina Tammes School and the Wubbo Ockels School, among others. There are already a few projects running that could potentially lead to interesting results. I am in this phase at present. The subject of energy is very broad; just think of things like hydrogen, biofuel, and battery technology. But it also includes smart digital solutions aimed at energy saving and the network congestion problem. You might not immediately expect this to be happening at the University of Groningen. We may not be a technical university, but as a university, we have a very broad knowledge base that brings all disciplines together. That translates into beautiful things. In the field of digitization, you are dealing with digital services, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. As a Business Developer, I am always looking for innovative research and assessing whether there is a market for it, either now or in the future, how big it is, and whether there are players we can involve.

What can we do to promote a culture where even more researchers make the move to the market?

We need to lower the barriers  and actively approach researchers; it doesn’t happen automatically. Even if it’s just an initial introductory meeting to hear what they are working on and then we can give them an insight into where we can help them. You know, the step to the market does not necessarily have to be that big. Becoming an entrepreneur is something you can choose to do yourself, but we also see a lot of researchers being guided by someone who already has ample experience in setting up a company or managing it in collaboration with us. We cannot expect researchers to suddenly want to become entrepreneurs. That wouldn’t be realistic. The goal is to bring research results to the market; there are several ways to achieve that and we are here to facilitate that.

Have a cup of coffee with Ernst? Get in touch with him! 

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