Gronin­gen

Vi­sion

Partly as the result of discussions with its stakeholders, GasTerra has translated the three well-known pillars of corporate social responsibility into Gas, Green and Groningen. The choice of Groningen is obvious. The majority of GasTerra’s portfolio consists of Groningen gas, but aside from that, we consider it very important to make a meaningful contribution to the local community of which we are part. We therefore sponsor various activities in the areas of sports, culture and social life. 

After the establishment of GasTerra as an independent company in 2005, the emphasis in sponsorship policy was on activities and projects that could increase the brand awareness of the new company in the region. The most important example of this is the financial support to Groningen’s professional basketball club GasTerra Flames. By connecting the name of our company to the team, we generated maximum publicity. Independent research has shown that this approach has been successful. GasTerra has become a fixed and known value in the Groningen community.

Now that the brand awareness has reached a high enough level, we shift our attention to emphasising our economic significance and promoting our vision of the energy and climate issue. Inter alia, we do this in practice through the ‘GasTerra Doet’ (‘GasTerra Does’) campaign. Within this theme, five sub themes have been identified: GasTerra inspires, GasTerra sustains, GasTerra researches, GasTerra takes action and GasTerra connects. Depending on a sponsorship activity, GasTerra expands, inter alia on the website GasTerra Doet on a sub theme in order to raise awareness of its role in society.

In addition, in the coming years, we will gradually increasingly opt for social sponsorship. This change of direction is related to changes in society and the demands we place on our role in society. The community is increasingly asked to take responsibility for the quality and viability of their habitat themselves. As a result, the welfare state gets a different, more austere character. Enterprises cannot and should not fill the resultant gap, but they can help to ease the transition to what has become known as the participatory society. This is another way in which we try to bring our motto Energizing the future into practice. 

In 2014, we started this recalibration of the sponsorship policy. From now on, our sponsorships will place more emphasis on social projects and initiatives, of course particularly in the Groningen region. In concrete terms, this means that charities will get a more key position than previously assigned. Where we do cultural or sporting sponsorship, we are always looking for a possible link with existing charities and encourage our partners to do so as well. This, in itself, is not new. Examples: a substantial part of the sponsorship money for the Flames (in the meantime renamed Donar) also goes to social projects. This summer, with our support, The North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra gave a concert in a less prosperous area of Groningen. The Ladies Run and the ‘4 mijl van Groningen’ racing event are also affiliated with charities.

Spon­sor­ship

As a Groningen company, we primarily focus on the city and region. We sponsor various activities, in relation to which we shifted our attention in 2014 from (top-class) sports to social sponsoring. 

Sports, culture and society

In 2014 we spent 900,000 euros on sponsoring initiatives. This also serves a company objective. We wish hereby to bring the name of the enterprise and the role that we play locally and internationally to people's attention. This policy has been successful in recent years. Thus, it emerged from research that by now most citizens of Groningen know GasTerra by name. That, however, does not apply in the same measure to the core activities of the company – a reason why we shall pay more attention to this in the coming period. The total amount that is spent on sponsoring will be reduced in the coming years. 

Initiatives that were also able to count on financial support from GasTerra in 2014 were the Walk for Life (action against cancer), Ladies Run (Pink Ribbon) and an initiative of the Academie Minerva, which, with support from GasTerra, organised a contest among students to stimulate them to create works of art on the theme sustainability. 

GasTerra Flames

Last year, the Groningen basketball team GasTerra Flames became cup winner and national champion. This was also the moment at which GasTerra took its leave as main sponsor of the club. Commencing in the season 2014/2015, the name GasTerra Flames was changed, and the basketball team is now called ‘Donar’. During the coming two seasons, the contribution to the basketball team will be gradually phased out. 

Infoversum

GasTerra jointly made it possible for the Infoversum, the only full-dome 3D theatre in the Netherlands, to open its doors to the public on 18 June 2014. In the Infoversum, the public can get acquainted with science in the broadest sense of the word. By means of films, exhibitions, lectures, concerts and congresses, the visitor goes on a journey of discovery. Together with the University of Groningen, the Municipality of Groningen and Target (the mathematics and physics faculty of the University of Groningen) GasTerra is a founding partner of the Infoversum. 

Eurosonic Noorderslag

Every year during Eurosonic Noorderslag, the top-class event in which for four whole days Groningen dedicates itself to European pop music, various national and international acts perform, and awards are handed out. For GasTerra, Eurosonic Noorderslag is particularly suitable for relationship management and, moreover, it is an important sponsoring project, since social and cultural goals come together here. Thus, the open air festival Eurosonic Air, one of the top attractions, is accessible free of charge, and in addition to that, for many European musicians it is an important platform from which to break through internationally. Within the totality of Eurosonic Noorderslag, GasTerra also sponsors the GasTerra Energy Stage: a performance stage freely accessible at no charge, where Groningen pop talent can showcase itself. 

Interview Edwin Valentijn, initiator of Infoversum

Interview Edwin Valentijn, initiator of Infoversum

Groningen is one of the four places in the Netherlands where astronomy can be studied. Prof. Edwin A. Valentijn (62) is an old hand of that part of the University of Groningen where astronomical research is carried out: the Kapteyn Institute. He already has a long scientific career in astronomy behind him, which took him to Geneva, Munich, Madrid and the observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands, among other places. In his CV, however, there is more to be found than astronomy alone. These days, Edwin Valentijn primarily occupies himself with information technology and he is the initiator of, and driving force behind, the Infoversum in Groningen, which opened in 2014. GasTerra is a founding partner and main sponsor of this Full Dome 3D Theatre, the only one in the Netherlands. In this interview, it emerged that all these activities are closely related to each other.

Read the interview

Interview Edwin Valentijn, initiator of Infoversum

If I get my teeth into something, I don’t let go quickly

Edwin Valentijn

Why astronomy?

From a young age, I was interested in the universe and the stars. My father took me outdoors in the time when the nights were still dark. There I learnt to reflect on the big questions: Where do we come from? Where are we going? That ultimately led me to opt for the study of astronomy in Leiden. I did my doctoral thesis on radio astronomy, on clusters of galaxies, to be precise, under Prof. Harry van der Laan. At the age of 26, I got a job with ESO, the European Southern Observatory. Ultimately, I came back to Groningen. I was asked to collaborate on the building of the British/Dutch/Spanish observatory on La Palma. When that job was finished, I got down to work in Groningen definitively. Here, I have occupied myself with the ISO, the Infrared Space Observatory, and with the building of an information system for the observatory in Chile, among other things. In short, I’ve been active in many areas of astronomy: optical, radio, infra-red, in space travel and at observatories."

Do you have particular preferences within this extensive field of expertise?

"No, in fact I’m interested in the integration of the various disciplines. The greatest common denominator is information technology. And so it’s not surprising that I’ve specialised in that in recent years. Data science has now become a separate field of expertise.

At a certain moment we had to build a new information system in order to process the constantly growing flood of data. The Board of Governors also saw a lot in it too, and thus arose Target: a public-private collaboration with the aim of creating Big Data-systems. A large and important project costing 32 million euros, which the Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland (SNN – North Netherlands Alliance) subsidised. A well-known and internationally-acclaimed programme like LifeLines, in which people are monitored for thirty years in order to study how syndromes develop in families, is also part of this. I myself am the founder of the Target Holding. Based on that constellation and the instructions of the university and SNN to commercialise this project – to "valorise" it, to use an ugly word – we were able to broaden the basis of Target. From the private sector, IBM, Oracle and a number of medium-sized and small businesses came on board. The Provinces of Groningen and Drenthe also turned out to be interested in Target as an instrument for the deepening of knowledge and regional development, and jointly contributed a sum of 850,000 euros."

How do you see yourself now? As an astronomer or as an information technologist?

"As an astronomer! Big Data may be a hot topic by now, but it isn’t new. As astronomers we were already fully engaged in it, at a time when the entire concept still had to be invented."

Where did the idea for an Infoversum come from?

"Mmm, how do these things happen... I was on holiday with my daughter in Hamburg, and visited the Planetarium there. I thought at the time: we must have this in Groningen too, an extension of the Big Data systems and, at the same time, a bridge to the broadly interested public.

We had some money. Within the framework of the public-private collaboration within Target, I approached various parties. Then it became an adventure. It’s thanks to the support of those around us that it succeeded: the University of Groningen, the municipality, the construction companies, Rabobank, Rottinghuis, CiG-Central Staal and GasTerra, of course. We had to face a lot of obstacles, but with every drawback, there came a demonstration of support. I could write a boys’ book about it!

And everything according to plan...

That has to do with an unpleasant character trait of mine. If I get my teeth into something, I don’t let go quickly. In any event, I’m proud that it was realised in accordance with the plan and within the construction budget.’

Does the Infoversum satisfy your expectations?

Emphatically, yes. When we do something special, the public turns up in large numbers. That is the main goal, and it’s going fantastically. We see that people leave feeling satisfied. I am happy with this bridge to the broad public.’

Does the Infoversum also have a valuable scientific role?

Yes, as well as being a crowd puller, it is also a discovery theatre for scientists. We can project scientific data in 3D, and discover things in the images that remain hidden in ordinary 2D images. This emerged during a congress about neck tumours. We projected this in 3D, which the specialists were very enthusiastic about. With the university’s Rekencentrum (Computer Centre), we are working on this objective in accordance with a business plan.’

The Infoversum must reach as broad an audience nationally as possible. Do you also see possibilities of bringing non-Groningen people to the Infoversum?

Certainly. We want to promote the Infoversum as a new medium, and at the same time retain its theatrical character. Doing exciting things with the public, that what it’s about. That’s why we are also so happy about the collaboration with the energy parties in the North: GasTerra, NAM and Gasunie.’

What role do you see for yourself in this?

I want to distance myself more from the organisational affairs and ultimately occupy myself mainly with the content. Thus, I’m currently engaged in a film project that has the working title The powers of two. The idea is based on The powers of ten, a 1977 film that brings us to the borders and the origin of the universe. The powers of two refers to the digital world and has to deal with the information universe. The universe, after all, is a large information machine. Themes like who are we, where do we come from and what is the role of the universe are also dealt with in it.’

Back again to that boy of 16 who watched the stars with his father?

Precisely.’