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Tilburg University and local businesses join forces for sustainable logistics: ‘Collaboration is in the Brabant DNA’

Published: 03rd November 2023 Last updated: 03rd November 2023

There are few places in Europe where logistical activity is as strongly developed as in the region of Central Brabant. Over the coming years, the logistics sector in Brabant aims to lead the way in transitioning towards a sustainable future, where robust economic growth goes hand in hand with broad prosperity in the region. To shape this future, Tilburg University and local entrepreneurs have jointly established the Tilburg Initiative for Future Logistics (TIFL).

Central Brabant has long been the beating heart of the Netherlands' logistical sector. But the sector faces significant challenges—limited space, labor market scarcity, the shift towards new energy sources and the rise of artificial intelligence are calling for substantial transitions. To successfully navigate these complex transitions, collaboration between the sector and academia is essential. 

Setting an example for the rest of the country 

The recently launched Tilburg Initiative for Future Logistics (TIFL) fosters such a collaboration. Researchers from Tilburg University will work together with ten local logistics companies and Midpoint Brabant to pave the way for a resilient, sustainable logistics system that contributes to the well-being and prosperity of those living and working in the region. 

At Tilburg University, researchers Frans Cruijssen and Jan Fransoo are the driving force behind TIFL. “I'm impressed by the companies’ commitment to the region. At the same time, I'm surprised that we haven't taken initiative earlier to set an even stronger example for the rest of the country as a leading logistics region,” says Jan Fransoo, who is Professor of Operations and Logistics Management and who previously established top logistics institute TKI Dinalog in Breda. “As a university, we hold significant expertise—not only in logistics but also in areas such as the labor market, artificial intelligence and broad prosperity.” 

Connecting the operational field with the university 

Rob van Opzeeland of the logistics company Kivits Drunen is one of the entrepreneurs who approached the university with the idea for a structural partnership. “We had already experienced how intensive collaborations within the chain can lead to innovative solutions,” he explains. “For instance, we share young, well-educated employees with other companies in the region, which allows us to offer diverse and challenging roles while also creating opportunities for companies to learn from each other.” 

According to Van Opzeeland, the collaboration with Tilburg University is a significant step forward. “Through this initiative, we aim to gain inspiration on how to responsibly implement the major transitions in our sector. We're also looking forward to further connecting the operational field with scientific knowledge, as well as collaborating with the university’s staff and students.”

TIFL kick-off event

“Collaboration is ingrained in the Brabant DNA. With TIFL, we will jointly work on issues and strategic solutions that are of great importance to both the logistics sector and the region.” 

Dr. Frans Cruijssen

Researcher Frans Cruijssen will lead the initiative: “Collaboration is ingrained in the Brabant DNA,” he says. “With TIFL, we will jointly work on issues and strategic solutions that are of great importance to both the logistics sector and the region.” 

Launch of the Tilburg Initiative for Future Logistics

On 12 October, the researchers and business owners involved in the initiative gathered at the Faculty Club for the official launch of TIFL. Rector magnificus and president of the executive board Wim van de Donk also attended the event.  

Researcher Brigitte Kroon gave a talk as the event's guest speaker, discussing the scarcity in the logistics labor market and how to engage the so-called “untapped labor potential” in the region. The labor shortage in the sector is a significant issue. On the path towards future-proofing logistics in Central Brabant, solutions are needed that not only address staff shortages but also contribute to strengthening labor participation and the economic independence of groups with vulnerable employment positions. In the time ahead, TIFL's researchers and entrepreneurs will jointly work on crafting such solutions. 

About TIFL

Tilburg Initiative for Future Logistics (TIFL) is an initiative by Frans Cruijssen and Jan Fransoo of the Tilburg School of Economics and Management (TiSEM), Midpoint Brabant and 10 logistics companies from within the area: BTT Multimodal container Solutions, Claassen Logistics, De Graaf Logistics, De Mandemakers Groep, DP World, ID Logistics, Jan de Rijk Logistics, Kivits Drunen BV, Van den Bosch, and Versteijnen Logistics.

This project will be carried out within the Academic Collaborative Center Governance and Management for Broad Prosperity. TIFL is part of the 'Regio Deal', in which Tilburg University works together with partners in Central Brabant to contribute to broad prosperity in the regio. Read more here

TIFL kick-off event
TIFL - Jan Fransoo