The province of Zuid-Holland is rich in manufacturing industry. Manufacturing companies that develop and sell all kinds of products with the help of technology. These companies would like to produce faster, cheaper, more durable and higher quality products, but are often unaware of contemporary, digital possibilities such as robotisation and 3D printing. SMITZH brings together supply and demand and aims to make the manufacturing industry more innovative, competitive and future-proof. The Digital Operations & Finance Centre of Expertise at The Hague University of Applied Sciences is one of the knowledge and research partners in the SMITZH consortium.

SMITZH stands for Smart Manufacturing Industrial Applications (Toepassingen) Zuid-Holland. This is a broad consortium of research and training institutes, businesses and industry organisations in the province of South Holland that, among other things, develops, tests and implements targeted solutions in field labs. SMITZH wants to help companies learn about the available tools, degree programmes and subsidies so they can effectively start using smart manufacturing resources. 

Making the manufacturing industry more sustainable

SMITZH helps companies in the region with things like process optimisation. Which ERP system will help the company automate and optimally connect its business processes? How can the company effectively use robots? What role do Internet of Things and 3D printing play in process optimisation? SMITZH is a broad-based partnership that can practically answer all these questions with a suitable offer. The common thread in all research is that by using smart technologies, we can make the manufacturing industry more sustainable, thus reducing the company's ecological footprint.

Our approach

The Hague University of Applied Sciences has been active in the SMITZH consortium since 2019. The Digital Operations & Finance Centre of Expertise conducts practice-oriented research in cooperation with industry associations FME and Metaalunie. We are actively involved with representatives of these parties in approaching small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing industry. Together, we analyse if and how a company can leverage digitalisation opportunities. In addition to reaching out to companies, we also offer them smart kits, tools they can borrow to experiment with smart manufacturing under the guidance of The Hague University of Applied Sciences. This could include loaning companies a robot or tools for augmented reality. In augmented reality, the user continues to see the real world (as opposed to virtual reality), but additional information is added through the use of modern digital technology. 

Different solutions

This work method generates many requests for help, which often require different solutions. The SMITZH platform is like a shopping centre where a company looks for an answer to its question. The researchers from the Digital Operations & Finance Centre of Expertise staff one of the shops. They can answer certain customer questions. Sometimes they will use an intern or graduate to provide information. Or they may connect the requesting company as a client to a subject within a degree programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. This could involve allocating a dedicated team of professors, researchers and students. The latter approach is often used for more specialised assignments. 

Factory-as-a-service and circular business operations

By conducting practice-oriented research, we want to help companies in a very targeted way. We stand out with two specific themes: factory-as-a-service and circular business operations.

  • Factory-as-a-service

By using a flexible approach in working together on smart manufacturing, we can deliver customised solutions to customers with very specific requirements. In short, we offer Factory-as-a-service. Does a company want to configure an existing production line to temporarily make a specific product? Does a company want to scale up from single piece production to a production series? The concept of factory-as-a-service allows for such a flexible production capacity. We are exploring how we can do this in South Holland and which parties can play a role in this. 

  • Smart & Circular  

Many companies want to operate more sustainably. They want to produce in a circular way and use fewer raw materials. The question is: how? What can they do? How do they argue for a suitable business case to invest in circularity? In partnership with TNO, researchers and students from The Hague University of Applied Sciences are developing a guide for these companies. This should help them to make a business case for such an investment.

THUAS is developing this guide by compiling the experiences of pioneers in an online environment. The dozens of best practices show how companies in the Netherlands have taken this circular step. And how this has increased revenues. That's how we encourage entrepreneurs to transform their circular ambitions into concrete actions.

Intended duration of the project

The SMITZH project started on 1  November 2019 and is expected to run until 1 November 2022.


Within The Hague University of Applied Sciences, the Digital Operations & Finance Centre of Expertise is working closely with 

  • the Faculty Technology, Innovation & Society and
  • the Faculty Business, Finance & Marketing. 

Outside of the university of applied sciences, we are also cooperating on this project with:

  • FME
  • MRDH
  • Koninklijke Metaalunie
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Innovation Quarter (promoter)
  • High-tech platform West NL
  • TNO
  • Province of Zuid-Holland (funder)
  • Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences
  • various SMEs in the South Holland region



The SMITZH research team at The Hague University of Applied Sciences consists of the following people:

  • Sander Limonard

Sander Limonard is the project leader on behalf of The Hague University of Applied Sciences within the SMITZH consortium. He also teaches and supervises graduates in the field of business models, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Mirjam Zijderveld is a researcher at the Smart Sustainable Manufacturing research group, a lecturer in Technical Business Administration and programme manager Technology for Health within the Faculty of Technology, Innovation and Society.

  • Hans Hoekstra

Hans Hoekstra is a researcher with the Smart Sustainable Manufacturing research group and a lecturer with the International Business degree programme within the Faculty Business, Finance & Marketing.

  • Jenny Coenen

Jenny Coenen is a lecturer in Smart Sustainable Manufacturing within the Digital Operations & Finance Centre of Expertise.

  • Kim Poldner

Lector Circular Business


The following students of The Hague University of Applied Sciences are conducting research within the SMITZH consortium: 

  • Erik Wachter
  • Mark Prins
  • Wouter van Diemen

Want to know more?

  • Do you represent a company that wants to learn more about digitalisation and smart manufacturing to become more competitive and future-proof? Please contact Hans Hoekstra, email:
  • Are you interested in a graduation project or internship in the field of digitisation and smart manufacturing? Please contact Sander Limonard, email: