Speech by Melanie Schultz van Haegen at the unveiling of the hyperloop test facility at Delft University of Technology, 1 June 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, students, entrepreneurs!

It’s great listening to young people with good ideas. I often visit Delft University of Technology and I enjoy coming here. People here think in terms of opportunities.

It’s thanks to that mentality that you’ve won prizes two years running in the hyperloop competition of Elon Musk in California. It’s that mentality which led to the birth of HARDT only four months later. It’s that mentality which led to the creation of Europe’s first hyperloop test facility, right here in The Green Village, behind this long curtain!

It makes me proud. Very proud that our country and this university are leading the world in this field. It takes a unique combination of vision and determination. I’m delighted that BAM – one of our biggest construction companies − finds this such a promising venture that it’s partnering with you. Together of course with the university and with Dutch railways.

The Netherlands is leading the way in innovative and sustainable mobility. We have world-class test facilities for the air and space industry, as well as for water management, autonomous driving and drone technologies. We’re the first country to create legislation that will shortly allow driverless cars on public roads.

My ambition is to make the Netherlands the Smart Mobility Centre of the world. I’m working hard to lay the groundwork for that in legislation. We also need that. Our legislation is quite old-fashioned. New legislation offers great opportunities for our businesses and knowledge institutions.

The hyperloop ties in perfectly with that. Fast, quiet, innovative and sustainable. It’s no accident that we’re here in the Green Village! The hyperloop promises to be the only net-positive energy transportation system. That – and its speed – is why I’m keen to help make it a reality. It is why we are conducting a thorough research into the possibilities of the hyperloop in the Netherlands.

We still have a long way to go. And the road ahead is full of bumps, bends and obstacles that the hyperloop will have to overcome. We need to carry out proper tests and move one step at a time.

HARDT is a business now. And there’s already a new team of students keen to replicate your success in California next year.

Hyperloop One, the big American contender, will be hosting a symposium and Challenge in Amsterdam next Tuesday. I’ve made a conscious choice to be there as well as here. It would be good if you could be there too. Perhaps not to become best buddies. After all, you can’t get traction without friction – though of course that doesn’t really apply to the hyperloop… It would be good for you to be there, to improve each other’s performance.

Because in the garden of innovation, it’s competition that makes new flowers bloom. Along with a dash of rivalry. And the constant challenge of always being the first and the best.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude. It’s my privilege to unveil this first European test facility. It is an exciting moment, which makes me think of pioneers like Anthony Fokker and Albert Plesman. A century ago, they could not have foreseen how they would change the face of aviation and transport.

I wish you every success as you pursue further exciting advances. Let’s not wait any longer: away with that curtain!