An interview with Chemmat alumni James Woolner who is presently living in The Netherlands:


In 2018 I decided to do what every Kiwi seems to do in their career, move to Europe. Being a UK national and therefore having EU citizenship, I thought it would be more of a challenge to move into Europe rather than the typical route of moving to London. With my partner we began to search for countries and cities that have an active manufacturing sector, a priority for innovation and entrepreneurship, and a not-too-steep language barrier. We ended up in Amsterdam, the Netherlands because it has a vibrant startup scene backed by some of the best technical universities in Europe, and also accepts English as a working language.

I am currently working for a company called Delft Advanced Biorenewables, more commonly known as DAB. We are a spin-off organisation of the Technical University of Delft (TU Delft) where we have taken a novel separation technology developed at the university and begun to commercialize it in the industrial biotechnology sector. We currently have a pilot facility in Delft, and are in the process of building our demonstration scale unit in a yet to be disclosed location in Europe. There I am the business development manager and a part of the senior leadership team working alongside the CEO and CTO.

In terms of living in Amsterdam, it’s a great city to live in buzzing with activity year around. There were a few adjustments to get used to, like actually having cold temperatures, snow, and lack of daylight during winter. The city is very multicultural, as a huge portion of the population are expats working for large tech organisations, therefore our pools of friends has grown substantially to people all over the world. This has been amazing, to understand how different people view the world and what issues they face which are often vastly different to those in New Zealand.


More photos of James:

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