The tie-up between one of the Netherlands’ largest engineering consultancies and a rising Singapore-based information technology start-up has won the approval of business communities of both countries.

The strategic partnership between the Hydroinformatics Institute (H2i) and Royal HaskoningDHV (RHDHV), which allows both to better apply digital solutions to the world’s water challenges, received a special award during the Winsemius Awards 2019, held last night (May 30) at the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. This year’s theme was Collaborate to Innovate.

In their citation, the judges pointed to the “innovative collaboration” between the two, adding that:

The partnership has enabled new solutions in flood control and water management, using emerging technologies such as in data science, Artificial Intelligence, and machine-learning … It truly promotes Singapore-Dutch innovation spirit and leadership in sustainability.”

The annual Awards ceremony, jointly organised by ADB-DutchCham and the Embassy of the Netherlands, celebrates the strong business ties between Singapore and the Netherlands. It is named after long time economic adviser to Singapore, Dutchman Albert Winsemius.

H2i’s Chief Consultancy Officer Wouter de Hamer and Operations Manager Visnja Coric received the award from Guest-of-Honour Mr Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, on behalf of RHDHV and H2i. Her Excellency Mrs Margriet Vonno, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei, and Mr Hans de Boer, President of the Dutch business and employers’ organisation VNO-NCW, also attended the event.

H2i and RHDHV have already begun to roll out their first collaborative projects. Together, they are applying water-IT solutions to tackle challenges faced by the Philippines. H2i’s innovative solutions, including the its X-band radar for rainfall nowcasting and AI-aided optical sensors such as CCTVs for real-time rainfall measurement, have also been introduced to key stakeholders in the Netherlands and Asia-Pacific.

Martin Lechner, Chairman of H2i’s Board of Directors, said the recognition was fitting given this year’s theme.

“At the heart of our partnership is a determination to address mounting concerns about issues like urban flood resilience as Asia’s mega-cities continue to grow. Being able to share insights, resources and technological tools helps us better address these challenges, and more quickly,” he said.

The 20-strong H2i is just five years old, while the 6,000-strong RHDHV, with projects in over 100 countries and a permanent presence in 30, is close to 140 years old. Yet both have benefited from the partnership, said Mr Niels Schallenberg, Director of the Water Business Line of Royal HaskoningDHV.

“RHDHV brings to H2i, funding, scale and reach, and can in turn tap H2i’s climate change-related and urban flood resilience solutions to expand its own digital footprint in the region,” he said.

H2i also leverages the natural test-bed environment Singapore offers to quickly develop water-related digital solutions that can be scaled regionally and globally, he added. In just five years, its innovative water-management and climate change-related solutions have found favour with government agencies, private and public-listed firms, as well as NGOs.

Both companies are past Winsemius Award winners. Last year, H2i was named Rising SME Star, and in 2016, Royal HaskoningDHV was recognized for its achievements in water-related activities.

Our congratulations to the other winners of the evening: Golden Agri Resources (Manufacturing & Supply Chain), Rabobank – Adobe (Services & Hospitality), PWNT Water Technology (Maritime, Water & Offshore), Olam International and ING (Red-Orange Inspiration), OrcaNation (Small Business Rising Star), and Rabobank (Best Collaborative Team).