Interview:


Mr. Ilja Bonsen Managing Director of IB Consultancy & President of the CBRNe Society

Why did you create the NCT event series held around the world – what is it about the CBRNe-EOD profession that makes it so compelling?

Before I started IB Consultancy (IBC), I worked at TNO, a semi government research institute in the Netherlands. As such, we were often approached by mostly British event firms inviting me and my colleagues to attend and speak. I quickly noticed that the quality of these events was mediocre at best and scandalously priced. For those companies, the topic of CBRN and the mission of the CBRNe community was just a way to make money. Whether the topic was CBRN or Oil & Gas, for them it was just money and that was reflected in the lack of quality events.

I saw an opportunity to organize a quality CBRNe event. At the time, we discussed within TNO to organize a CBRNe event, but we never did it. When I started IB Consultancy, I quickly decided to develop such capability and in 2011 we launched the first NCT event.

The CBRNe community is such a niche community, and it is so relatively small that events are crucial for the community to network, exchange experiences and ideas. With NCT we provide that event platform and networking and learning opportunities to more members of the CBRNe community than all other events combined. I am proud of our small team of young professionals who have been able to put NCT on the map and support this community so well.

So what is the role of the CBRNe Society versus IB Consultancy?

The NCT events were never meant to be a profitable business, however, being organized by a commercial entity caused some people confusion. When we started the CBRNe Society, we moved the NCT events into a proper not-for-profit NGO that is clearly differentiated from the commercial event organizers. The CBRNe Society shows that the NCT events are not for profit, although the best way to see that is looking at the prices we have for our government delegates who either participate at cost price and often for free.

NCT is still “a vision of IB Consultancy,” and IBC continues to provide the manpower to run the logistics and the commercial aspects of the events. However, NCT is now part of the CBRNe Society.

Much has transpired within the global CBRNe-EOD community since the NCT events started 9 years ago. To your mind, what are the three most positive changes that resulted during this period for this close-knit community?

I think the first topic that springs to mind is the slowly closing gap between the EOD and CBRN communities. Although the gap still exists in many places and some countries are slow to overcome the traditional boundaries, you can see more and more integration between EOD and CBRN response units.


The second important development is the arrival of small firms that offer competing software solutions that offer better service for lower prices. Where 10 years ago the market for CBRNe software was dominated by a few firms with software based on developments from the 1980s, that market has changed for the better.

Finally, the use of chemical weapons by Syria, Russia, North Korea and Da’esh has led to a renewed attention for CBRNe. I wouldn’t call the use of chemical weapons a positive note, but the increased attention and understanding of the topic is a positive development and helps the CBRNe community to better do its job.

What are the top three singular value-driven benefits the NCT global community of dedicated professionals can expect from the international 2020 NCT conference series?

First, we will bring back the dedicated EOD, C-IED and Demining conferences as the NCT eXplosive series. We tried, as did others, to combine CBRN and EOD folks in one conference. Clearly, that doesn’t work. What did work in the past and will work in 2020 is having the NCT events host separate CBRNe and eXplosive conferences during the same NCT event.

Second, we will expand on the NCT PRO trainings. These unique training events have doubled in size in 2019 in comparison to our 2018 launch events, and they will continue to grow in 2020 with more teams and more products being used by these team during the trainings. We even plan to host NCT PRO eXperiences during Eurosatory in June 2020, providing more end-users with the chance to experience more capabilities developed by more companies. This is how we continue to strengthen the CBRNe community.

Finally, with five NCT events in South America, the USA, Middle East, Europe and Asia, NCT is the only truly worldwide thought-leader in CBRNe, continuing to provide the premier platform for learning, networking and CBRNe business development.