According to the jury report, he is an innovator pur sang. That is why the Innovation Award of the Directorate for Economic and Business Statistics and National Accounts went to Quinten Meertens, a statistical researcher at CBS as of September 2015. Quite an honour for Quinten, a talented mathematician. ‘At CBS, I get the chance to try out new things’.
Close to 40 ideas were submitted for the innovation award; the jury, including several directors, selected four. The nominees were able to present their ideas at end of May in a two-minute elevator pitch. Meertens took home the trophy award and an amount of 1,000 euros. ‘I was surprised to be included among the four nominees. It was very exciting and a great honour.’
Meertens owes his nomination to his way of working. ‘I graduated in Mathematics in June 2015. I started working for the Business Statistics and Coordination Division in September 2015 and I have worked on several projects; for example, I have developed a dashboard which provides a quick overview of the large number of corporate tax returns. I have also worked on the acceleration of existing production processes. For example, by making changes to various existing applications in such a way that calculation times were strongly reduced, or manual work became automated.’ What is special about his approach? ‘I always try to be very critical. When I see things that could be done better or faster, I get to work on them. CBS encourages this. I also like the challenges.’
Price index model
Another reason for Meertens’ nomination were his efforts in building a price index model for newly constructed buildings. ‘The model which calculated the development of construction costs had not been stable for several years as there was less construction. Together with experts, I developed a mathematical model which will also work with smaller data volumes. It is near completion now. I also like research on this type of purely theoretical project.’ In addition, Meertens built the so-called DINO tool; this is a tool which led to the completion of the integration of two processing systems for short-term statistics on economic growth in businesses, from retail to manufacturing.
The jury praised not only Meertens’ entrepreneurial spirit, but also his depth, his skill for thorough analysis and his broad interests. How does he see his future at CBS? ‘The projects I am working on at the moment are nearing completion. There are plenty of ideas to pursue after that. One of my interests is big data and I am also a member of the big data workgroup in my division. I would like to study opportunities for CBS in this area.’ Meertens visits conferences regularly. ‘I recently met someone who uses satellite images for statistics on, for example, construction projects. That is intriguing.’