IBM Receives Dutch Embassy Award for Strengthening Transatlantic Ties

By Elissa Gootman

IBM has received the “Holland on the Hill Heineken Award,” which recognizes innovative industry leaders that have strengthened the economic relationship between the Netherlands and the United States through entrepreneurship. Michelle Browdy, IBM’s Senior Vice President for Legal and Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel, accepted the award on the company’s behalf on Sept. 16.

Dutch Ambassador André Haspels presents IBM's Michelle Browdy with the Holland on the Hill Heineken Award.

The award, given each year by the Dutch Embassy in Washington, D.C., is named after Freddy Heineken. He was the businessman who transformed his family’s Amsterdam brewing company into an internationally known brand, using marketing skills he acquired in the U.S. during the 1940s.

“When it comes to innovation and sustainability, IBM is a company that sets a path for others to follow,” said André Haspels, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the U.S., who presented the award in a socially distanced ceremony at his residence on September 16. “In the Netherlands, that innovation can be seen in IBM’s partnerships with Dutch universities and its role in the creation of the Dutch National AI Coalition.”

“The company is forward-thinking in sustainability with its Smarter Planet strategy, which complements Dutch sustainability efforts,” Haspels added. “IBM and the Netherlands are a true transatlantic economic success story anchored in shared values.”

The award coincides with the 100th anniversary of IBM’s presence in the Netherlands, where the company currently employs several thousand people. It takes on special significance because Thomas J. Watson, IBM’s founder, was a former president of the Netherland-America Foundation (NAF). The NAF is one of three organizations that created the “Holland on the Hill” program, a series of events highlighting the two countries’ shared values. The other organizations are the Dutch Embassy and the United States Congressional Caucus of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Connections That “Run Long and Deep”

In a related ceremony on Sept. 16, IBM received the NAF’s Ambassador C. Howard Wilkins Jr. Award, which recognizes outstanding professional accomplishments across myriad fields, including business, corporate leadership and diplomacy. Browdy also accepted that award on IBM’s behalf.

“IBM’s connections to the Netherlands run long and deep,” Browdy said. “The Netherlands is one of IBM’s most strategic and important locations in Europe. With political and economic stability and an open attitude towards international trade, investment, cooperation and new ventures, the Netherlands is a natural ally and perfect fit for us.”

In one example of its partnership with the Netherlands, IBM has a substantial partnership with Heineken itself, involving hundreds of people working on dozens of projects. In one of these, IBM is helping Heineken create a state-of-the-art AI model that uses satellite images, crop growth information and weather data. The goal: achieve sustainable crop sourcing to improve Heineken’s beer quality and output.

In another example, Browdy noted, IBM is working closely with the Port of Rotterdam to make it the “smartest” port in the world. The project involves leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) technology and artificial intelligence to create a complete “digital twin” of the port—a digital replica of physical assets designed to help manage plants and equipment. The Rotterdam port’s “twin” will mirror all of its resources—tracking ship movements, infrastructure, weather and water depth data.


Michelle Browdy, Senior Vice President for Legal and Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel,
accepted the award on IBM's behalf.