Interview | Fenneke Jolink - Project manager Planet

Fenneke Jolink recently joined the Planet team as Project manager, taking up special assignments that contribute to the services Planet brings to its community.
Fenneke has a MSc degree in Bioprocess technology from Wageningen University and then worked at DSM R&D in science, tech-transfer and project management for the biosolutions and food enzymes businesses, for almost 19 years. She brings a huge amount of valuable experience in biotech science and project management.

We had a talk with her about her career and experience.

Why did you say yes to joining Planet
“I want to keep challenging myself, explore new things, also in a professional way. That is one of the reasons I decided to join Planet When Planet started to get shape in 2018, I was asked to be the contact person within DSM Research & Development for when Planet residents were looking for specific biotech expertise. I was involved from the start to help the start-ups identify their needs and bring them in contact with the right expert. This was really nice because you could really feel their dedication, drive and passion they had for their idea and company. It gave me a lot of energy to help these start-ups with my expertise and make the right connections within DSM.

Over the years I saw how Planet developed; from a plan on paper to a foundation supporting 17 companies – really being the hub they envisaged to be. Including a small team of very enthusiastic people with a can-do mentality, that really make a difference. I wanted to be closer to the fire and become part of it!”

What inspired you to study bioprocess technology?
“When I was little I was always fascinated by experimenting; adding stuff together, hoping it would give some sort of reaction. I thought it was really cool. In high school I saw people in lab coats doing all sorts of interesting experiments, that had a high appeal to me. Also, I had an interest for biology and nature. That combination was bioprocess technology for me.”

How was your encounter with the business world?
“In the final year of my Master I deliberately decided to do an internship in a commercial company. I ended up at La Roche Vitamins in the Basel area. The site was a mix of research and production facilities and I got acquainted with large scale productions. The dynamics in such a company intrigued me. I knew then I wanted to work for a company with production dynamics.

Coincidentally, in the same year I did my internship, Roche Vitamins was taken over by DSM. That is not how I ended up in DSM in Delft – I applied just like anyone else on an interesting job as associate scientist in R&D downstream processing.“

What makes you all excited about supporting entrepreneurs?
“I really like their drive and determination to make things happen. Start-ups usually don’t have the need for large coordination mechanisms in their organisation yet. As a result they have clear focus and fast decision making. To be able to contribute in this environment with my support is something I really look forward to.“

What is a piece of key advice that you’d like to share with every new founder?
“What I experienced in my job as project manager at DSM, is that it is really important to already involve the right experts and advisors in the early stages of your project. Take them along in the process, from feasibility to implementation or application stage. Think about the phases ahead, making sure the end result can be achieved. But maybe, or likely, in a year from now I will have a different answer to this question after being involved at Planet for a longer period. So please ask me again!”