Trust is important when selling technology’

Lennart Silvis - Director of NWP

Here, we have a strong international focus and we are always looking at ways of using modern Dutch water technology to solve water problems across the border. Our approach depends strongly on the specific problem in the local situation, but it always concentrates on solutions that can have a long-term effect. We recently experienced a good example of this approach in South Africa, where we were involved in setting up a Centre of expertise at Durban’s drinking water company. There, Dutch companies were able to try out their products in a serious test environment, with co-funding from the Dutch government. We deliberately chose that particular drinking water company, because it is held in high regard in South Africa. If your product is accepted there, other water companies in the country will also be prepared to buy it.

Silvis’s willingness to collaborate on this water campaign is based on his expectation that standardization can help the water sector abroad. “We can pass on to other countries the lessons that we in the Netherlands have learnt about the importance of knowledge-sharing, cooperation and transparency. Over the long term, this can strengthen the position of Dutch technology. Therefore, linking international efforts and involvement to standardization following on from our activities is important for marketing Dutch technology. In the Netherlands, we have good state-of-the-art water technology for which we often reach good agreements. I think that if we are able to transfer these agreements to other countries appropriately, this will also help us in applying Dutch water technology. Standardization can help to set the standards in such a way that products of a high quality are requested and supplied. Standardization can also lead to lower costs as a result of the standardization of processes and solutions, and it can lead to possibilities for clever combinations of solutions.


Silvis points out that trust is extremely important in relation to the transfer of technology. The purchaser wants a good product at an affordable price. “If you take a government representative abroad who talks about a product that has been applied using tax money, then the product is not being recommended by the supplier, but by the purchaser. This creates trust. Standardization works in a similar manner. You create trust by indicating that the product meets an independently determined standard.”

During the Amsterdam International Water Week that the NWP is organizing again this autumn, a key theme will be a sustainable approach to water problems. “That will be a good opportunity to put the spotlight on standardization. For example, in a workshop with a number of countries about ways in which standardization can help to solve specific water problems sustainably.”

In a final comment, Silvis says: “We are a country of innovative technologies and that is what we must take abroad. Standards must not be a brake on creativity and innovation. A fine challenge is how we can ensure that small companies with their state-of-the-art technology have an influence on the development of international standardization.”

View here the projects and standardization initiatives related to water.