2017 Eurovision Song Contest

Tonight is the final of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, held this year in Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv.  There were 42 participating countries, with 26 making it through to the Grand Final, including both The Netherlands and Australia.

Since the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, Australia has somehow become an “honorary” European country.  This year Australia is competing with a song called “Don’t Come Easy” by Isaiah.

The Netherlands has a three-sister team called OG3NE with a song called Lights and Shadows:

The contest can be cheesy but always a lot of fun to watch.  I had hoped to join The Hague International Network to watch the final, with representatives from the various embassies based in The Hague, this would have been a great party!  However it’s also my 12th wedding anniversary today so we have plans.

You can find full information about the Eurovision Song Contest here:




Zijn algen de toekomst? ENGIE Algea team wint met duurzame innovatie Rotterdam100

(This article is in Dutch.  Scroll down for English information)

Op 20 april vond de Grand Final van de talentencompetitie Rotterdam100 plaats in het Timmerhuis te Rotterdam. Excellente studenten presenteerden hier volgens het Get in the Ring principe hun oplossingen voor Next Economy cases van bedrijven uit de regio aan een publiek van 200 innovatiemanagers, corporate partners en studenten. Het winnende team ontwikkelde voor ENGIE een high-tech manier om afval en uitstoot via algen om te zetten in energie. ​​ sprak zijn verwondering uit voor de talenten: “Rotterdam100 bewijst dat de stad Rotterdam geen toekijker is als het gaat om innovatie, maar hierin altijd de leiding heeft!”

Van vervuiling naar grondstof
Het winnende ENGIE Algea team streeft ernaar om vervuiling die containerschepen produceren tegen te gaan door hun emissies te gebruiken om algen aan boord te laten groeien. Het team wilt de algen laten fungeren als een natuurlijk filter, om zo niet alleen de CO2 die door de schepen wordt afgegeven om te zetten, maar ook gassen zoals stikstofdioxide en zwaveldioxide, waarvan aangetoond zijn dat  ze slecht zijn voor de menselijke gezondheid. De geteelde algen kunnen als biobrandstof worden gebruikt, maar het team ziet ook mogelijkheden om deze te gebruiken als grondstof, als een natuurlijke mest of zelfs voor kankerbehandeling.

Over de Rotterdam100
De Rotterdam100 is een talentencompetitie waarbij de meest excellente studenten en young professionals vanuit heel Nederland samenwerken met toonaangevende bedrijven. Hierin bedenken zij innovatieve oplossingen voor business cases die gericht zijn op de Next Economy. De finalisten  van de Rotterdam100 zijn geselecteerd uit meer dan 350 studenten uit heel Nederland, en werkten dit jaar aan cases van KPN, Engie, Port of Rotterdam & Gemeente Rotterdam, Soundies, CGI en ABN Amro. De Rotterdam100 is een initiatief van Stichting Maatschappij en Onderneming (SMO) en de Gemeente Rotterdam. De cases variëren van het zoeken naar creatieve oplossingen voor het bevechten van leegstand in de Rotterdamse haven tot het vinden van manieren om the Internet of Things ook voor een brede consumentenmarkt te bewerkstelligen. De jury bestaande uit captains of industry was erg te spreken over de oplossingen van de zes teams. De oplossingen van de teams varieerden van innovatieve apps tot technische oplossingen voor het tegengaan van klimaatverandering.

Gezamenlijk opschalen
Het team van ENGIE heeft de titel ‘Rotterdam’s Most Excellent’ bemachtigt en krijgt daarmee een aanbevelingsbrief van burgemeester Aboutaleb en voormalig premier Jan Peter Balkenende én een reis naar de internationale finale van de startup pitchcomeptitie Get in the Ring in Singapore. ‘’Onze eerste stap in dit project zou zijn om het lokaal te implementeren met de juiste partners. Er zijn veel organisaties in Rotterdam die kunnen bijdragen en profiteren van het ENGIE Algen idee, zoals de haven en de universiteit.’’ In de eerste drie jaar wil het team de Engie Algea-eenheden ontwikkelen en nationale en internationale partners en fondsen zoeken zodat in 2020 de containerunits kunnen worden verkocht.


English information:

The Rotterdam100 is a talent competition in which the most excellent students and young professionals work with leading companies and create innovative solutions for challenging business cases which are focused around the Next Economy.

Students and young professionals who participate in the Rotterdam100 will develop entrepreneurial skills and cross-sector insights, receive unique career opportunities and build a valuable network. The winners of the Rotterdam100 receive:

  • the title ‘Rotterdam’s Most Excellent’
  • A recommendation letter from the Mayor of Rotterdam
  • A allinclusive trip to the Global Final of Get in the Ring in Singapore, Boston or … ?!

The Rotterdam100 is an initiative of SMO in co-creation with the municipality of Rotterdam, CGI, ABN AMRO, Port of Rotterdam, Rotterdam Partners, KPN, ENGIE, Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

The article above (in Dutch) is about the winning team.

New to the Netherlands / Net in Nederland

In April of 2016 the New to the Netherlands website was launched. This is a website from the Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO where you can watch popular Dutch television programs and the daily Dutch NOS news all with Dutch, English and Arabic subtitles. By using a selection of on-demand media, New to the Netherlands wants to offer refugees and immigrants a guide to Dutch society and a unique way of learning Dutch.

New to the Netherlands is a so-called ‘experimental channel’ from the NPO and is financed with the own funding from the participating public broadcasters. An independent editorial staff selects videos from the existing programming from the participating public broadcasters. There are programs for all ages. One of our most popular programs is the NOS News which is posted on our website every weekday. The website is updated on a daily basis and we also offer a great Facebook page with lots of useful information including short original in-house clips and numerous interesting links in Dutch, English and Arabic.

In November of 2016 there were 5 internship positions created at New to the Netherlands for refugees with a media background. Since that time these five colleagues, who come from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Somalia, have been gaining practical work experience in the Netherlands which will help them secure other work later on. This group is very motivated and have proven themselves to be hard working and inquisitive. They often make short videos about their experiences here and other subjects of interest which are posted on the New to the Netherlands Facebook page.

New to the Netherlands is an initiative of the public broadcasters AVROTROS, BNN-VARA, KRO-NCRV, VPRO, EO, MAX and HUMAN and is supported by the NPO, NTR and the Dutch Institute for Image and Sound.
This platform has proven to be most successful and I wanted to share this information about our website with you are your readers. Being able to watch more than 25 shows for all ages with Dutch and English subtitles offers a rare opportunity to get a taste of home for the Dutch living abroad. The concept of our website has also had great success with Dutch people who want to learn English.




2017 Dutch Tulip Season begins with National Tulip Day

The new season for cut tulips has begun, attracting attention from around the world. On Saturday 21 January, Dutch tulip growers (TPN) organised the sixth annual National Tulip Day. The highlight was the picking garden of 200,000 tulips in the heart of Amsterdam, where members of the public could pick tulips free of charge. According to TPN President Arjan Smit, ‘National Tulip Day has grown into a world-class event, with around 17,000 international visitors each year. It also attracts a great deal of attention from the national and international press, and tulips have been a trending topic on social media. We could not have imagined a better start to the tulip season’. The theme for National Tulip Day was ‘Dutch Design’, as expressed in the garden design by Floris Hovers. Tulip Day was also celebrated enthusiastically at other locations in the Netherlands. Hundreds of florists and garden centres organised tulip workshops and demonstrations.



Dutch tulips make their way to florists, supermarkets and specialist shops around the world. In 2017, tulip production in the Netherlands will break the boundary of two billion for the first time. Last year, the production of cut tulips amounted to 1.9 billion, with an export value of €250 million. In recent years, tulips have gained considerable popularity due to their high quality, uniformity, expanded assortment and sustainable character. Dutch tulips are currently cultivated primarily in water instead of in potting soil, without the use of chemicals. In addition, the amount of energy used in tulip production is very low in comparison to other flowers, and it continues to decrease each year.


Tulip Day

The first National Tulip Day was in 2012. Held on the third Saturday of January, it now marks the start of the new season for cut tulips each year. Throughout the season, which lasts until the end of April (about 100 days), more than 1,000 different varieties of Dutch tulips are available around the world, ranging from bright yellow to dark purple, from lily-shaped to fringed and from two-toned to double-flowered. Tulip Day is an initiative of TPN.




On 23 March 2017, Keukenhof will be opening its gates for the 68th time. When it closes eight weeks later, some 1 million visitors from across the world will have visited the international flower exhibition. As such, Keukenhof makes a contribution to tourism in the Netherlands. Keukenhof now has a hundred flower bulb growers supplying bulbs to the park and five hundred flower growers participating in the flower shows.

Keukenhof 2017 opens from 23 March until 21 May.  https://keukenhof.nl/en/