The Owls Foundation is a Dutch-based institution with an extensive international network. The Foundation was founded in 2011 in the Netherlands as a non-profit organisation and was registered as a charity in 2012. Revenue comes from donations. The Board of the Foundation consists of six members from industry, government and science: Henk van den Breemen (Chairman), Paul Baan, Pieter de Rijcke, Colum Gorman, Maarten Verkerk, Gert van Dijk. Project Manager is Johanna Noom.
The aim of the Owls Foundation is to help achieve impact for a sustainable society by stimulating the debate on innovations and breakthrough processes through exchanging knowledge, experience and research.
The Owls Foundation’s first initiative is The Owls Project, whose aim is to answer the question of whether there are generic factors common to all breakthrough and innovation processes that play an important role, regardless of location, area and type of activity. And, if so, how these generic factors can be transferred successfully and durably to the next generation in order to keep the discussion on innovation alive. The research is now complete and the results have been published in a book, Breakthrough: From Innovation to Impact on this website.
Much research has been done on innovations and breakthroughs. However, as far as is known, none of it has been applied in such a broad context as the work undertaken by The Owls Project. For this project 19 international innovations and breakthroughs were carefully selected to be described and analysed in case studies based on a template. Interviewing key decision-makers and innovators involved in these breakthroughs was an important part of the research. Their input enhanced the case studies substantially and, in addition, contributed significantly to a generic analysis of the factors for success and failure within the case studies.
The chosen innovations and breakthroughs within the study cover different fields of activity and knowledge across the world. The selected topics range from the environment (the melting Arctic) to geoeconomy (the pivot to Asia), and from finance (new forms of social venturing) to new media (the cyber domain).
The research was completed in 2014, with the results made available in the book Breakthrough: From Innovation to Impact, which was published on 8 December 2014. This book, the first publication by The Owls Foundation, explains how brilliant ideas and inventions can be transformed into innovations and breakthroughs that make a real impact, and analyses why other ideas fail.
The active engagement of the leading figures who were interviewed is one of the distinguishing features of this project. These remarkable individuals were generous with their time and thought hard to reflect on their experiences of contributing towards a better world.
The Owls Foundation Board
Henk van den Breemen – Chairman
Paul Baan – Core Member
Pieter de Rijcke – Core Member
Professor Dr. Gert van Dijk – Member
Professor Dr. Martin Verkerk – Member
Colum Gorman, PhD. MD – Member
The Board members does not receive payment for their work. In practice, they are not reimbursed for expenses.
The administration of The Owls Foundation is carried out by 4Balance Administrations. The annual accounts are audited by Ernst & Young.
The next steps are to share the knowledge and experience gained through The Owls Project. This is one of the main goals of the initiators of the Foundation, who are keen to keep alive the discussion about innovations and breakthroughs. They also want to contribute to the development of stimulating environments for innovations in order to enable genuine breakthroughs that will have a beneficial impact for a sustainable world.