RDM Energylab: collaboration and innovation around hydrogen technology

Innovation, collaboration, experimentation, entrepreneurship… Rotterdam is often described in these terms. RDM EnergyLab (formerly known as H2EnergyLab), located at RDM Rotterdam, is the place for innovation in the port. Here, students, teachers, researchers and entrepreneurs collaborate on new developments related to hydrogen. If the aforementioned characterizations apply anywhere, it is here.

RDM Rotterdam, together with M4H (Merwe Vierhavens) part of the Rotterdam Makers District, is very busy on working days. It is a constant coming and going of students and innovative start-up and scale-up entrepreneurs who are working on sustainable solutions for the smart port of tomorrow. RDM EnergyLab is also located here, a place where education, research and entrepreneurship come together around hydrogen.


RDM EnergyLab was set up in 2017 (then under the name of H2EnergyLab) by RDM Center of Expertise of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool Rotterdam) together with partners Port of Rotterdam, Knowledge Center Sustainable Port City (Kenniscentrum Duurzame Havenstad) and companies such as Ennology and DEOdrive. It’s part of the regional Energy Transition Lab program of the Metropolitan Region of Rotterdam The Hague, which is aimed at solving important issues related to the energy transition through multidisciplinary education, and of GroenvermogenNL, a national program on green power for the Dutch economy and society that works towards a new, green industry and an attractive business climate, concentrated around green hydrogen.

Collaborations with SMEs and start-ups

It is mainly SMEs from the Rotterdam region with whom RDM Energylab often collaborates. Emile: ‘That’s right. For example, with research agency Accenda from Delft on just such a hydrogen-electric drive for vehicles. We gain a lot of practical knowledge from such a project. And vice versa, such a company is also the place where our students can do their internship. We all benefit from this: the company, us and the students. Another collaboration is with I-EM Delft, which originated from Accenda and which operates at the heart of the energy transition.. They develop theoretical and practical training courses on specific parts of the energy transition, such as safety training on the use of flammable substances in projects. Through such a collaboration, our students learn how it all works and what is involved when working with flammable substances. They can later use that knowledge in practice, or they can start working within safety certification themselves.’

Projects are also contributed by scale-up companies. ‘Certainly! In the recent past we have worked with Zepp.solutions and Battolyser Systems, among others. These are often very interesting projects for our students and these start-ups are important extensions of our network for us. The RDM Energylab is increasingly seen as an authority through all these collaborations, because we gain a great deal of technological knowledge through all those different projects.’ says Emile.

The role of hydrogen in energy transition is difficult to predict

RDM Energylab therefore trains young people who can play an important role in the future in the energy transition and more specifically the various application possibilities of hydrogen. According to Emile, it is impossible to predict how big that role will be. ‘The energy transition is of course very large and broad. We do not yet know what and how big the role of hydrogen will be in this. The Rotterdam region and the Port of Rotterdam Authority have great ambitions as a Hydrogen Hub. We play a role in that area, because we help train a new generation of hydrogen experts. I think that the importance of hydrogen in the future will be particularly great for large-scale transport in the port and for the chemical industry. We contribute to this through our projects, for example by learning about propulsion technology for mobility, including inland waterway vessels and road transport.’

Unique dynamics in Rotterdam

Experimenting, collaborating, breaking new ground, all aimed at a cleaner, more sustainable future for the city and port. It is no coincidence that RDM Energylab can be found in the Rotterdam port area, Emile agrees. ‘With the growing role of the port of Rotterdam as a hydrogen hub, it is important that we train the new generation of experts here. RDM Energylab is part of the process of shaping Rotterdam as a HighTech region. The fact that the importance of Rotterdam in the field of hydrogen and high-tech is internationally recognized is also reflected in the fact that the World Hydrogen Summit takes place here. In our region you will find a very different dynamic in the field of technology than elsewhere in Europe. This is mainly due to the industry, the port and the infrastructure. That makes Rotterdam really special. We really have something to say in Europe and Rotterdam is being looked at from all over Europe for the latest developments. I think it’s great that we can contribute to that.’

Connect to Rotterdam’s energy industry

As official Foreign Direct Investment agency and Destination Management Organisation and Convention Bureau of Rotterdam, Rotterdam Partners is your entry point for business, congress and event opportunities in Rotterdam’s energy industry. Our experts are here to connect you to relevant networks and partners, explore business locations or event venues, access available programmes and subsidies and help you find your feet in our urban region. We will guide you every step of the way. Want to connect with us? Please find our details below.


Photos on this page: Rotterdam Partners, Claire Droppert, Guido Pijper

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