(Editor’s note: If you’re interested in future TechTreks either as a visitor or as a corporate wanting to tap new talent, email us at: [email protected])
Airlines and airports are crucial to the global mobility of talent … and to Eindhoven’s big new initiative. And so is the support of the city, which turned out in force to support this first economic-development event.
Eindhoven Airport’s inaugural TechTrek brought nine entrepreneurs, influencers and innovators to Eindhoven Sunday to check out the local ecosystem – a 5-person group from Lisbon and the 4-person Digital Yuppies and Talent Garden team from Rome.
TechTrek is Eindhoven Airport officials’ economic-development initiative connecting this region to the major tech and innovation capitals of Europe where the airport flies. The idea is to fly in entrepreneurs, tech talent and innovators with the goal of raising Eindhoven’s profile as an attractive place to live, work and start or expand businesses.
This is all about the airport’s pivotal connecting and knowledge-sharing role in economic development. And that process started at the breakfast event at an airport meeting room. As they introduced themselves, TechTrek visitors each emphasized they came to Eindhoven to build their networks and size up Eindhoven for future projects.
First up, the Digital Yuppies from Rome. Just before 14:00 on Sunday, Giorgio Gioacchini, Tommaso Politano, Sara Meleleo and Ottavia Tracagni arrived on Ryanair.
Next, the Lisbon contingent arrived at about 22:00 on Transavia. They are André Marquet, Hugo Garcia, Vanessa Caldas, Michael Memeteau and João Gomes.
Eindhoven, like every other global tech center, needs talent. So Eindhoven Airport set out on a quest to use our networks to identify thought leaders, creators, entrepreneurs, engineers, influencers, doers and dreamers. Then, we’re bringing them here with hopes they’ll see Eindhoven as we do … the city with everything from huge business opportunities to the best quality of life in Europe.
We only had our guests for one full day – Monday, 15 October – so our goal was simple: show them the gee-whiz Eindhoven from High Tech Campus Eindhoven to the Strijp-S creative quarter and talk with them about the business climate as well as quality of life.
The airport sponsored the entire trip, covering airfare, ground transportation, lodging at the Tulip Inn at Eindhoven Airport, and meals, including lunch at the Colour Kitchen on High Tech Campus, and dinner at Radio Royaal in Strijp-S.
This wasn’t about hard-sell, and there were no requirements to commit to the city. But at least five of the nine TechTrekkers are already considering expanding their businesses here or coming to work. All nine told us they’re planning to return here later to research future business opportunities.
Our question to each attendee was, “Is this what you expected?” The collective reply was unanimous: “No, this is way cooler.”
Welcome to Eindhoven
TechTrek officially began with a breakfast reception with Eindhoven Airport hosts Maurits de Beer, Ivar van der Smaal and COO Mirjam van den Bogaard.
TechTrek creator Maurits, the airport’s manager route development, described a booming, affluent tech innovation center where air traffic – and connections across Europe – are expanding quickly. That’s due in part to the wealth of ultra-high-tech companies here including ASML, Philips and NXP. In turn, those employers generate the region’s high incomes. Eindhoven and the Brainport region, which includes ‘s-Hertogenbosch, accounts for 21 percent of the total Dutch GDP, Maurits told the group.
“Why are we so successful? Tech – everything from computers, self-driving cars,” he said.
Eindhoven is also very international he noted, with people coming here from around the world: “When we get to HTC, you’ll really feel the vibe.”
Ivar van der Smaal, the airport’s innovation manager, said Eindhoven Airport is more of an early adopter than an R&D lab for aviation. But he noted there’s pressure to innovate faster and make the airport smarter and more efficient by optimizing talent, processes and technology.
“Why do we need to change? Because in the next 50 years, we’ll see a doubling of world air traffic,” Ivar said. To cope with that, his industry will have to embrace virtual reality, robotics, biometrics, augmented reality, artificial reality and drones.
“The big challenge is to combine technology and what’s appropriate to our situation.”
• Tommaso Politano, community manager Digital Yuppies Rome, said his group has done 25 tech meetup events in three years in Rome, Leipzig, Milan and Amsterdam. “I’m passionate about marketing and design, and I believe in the power of community.”
• Giorgio Gioacchini, founder of Digital Yuppies, a network of professionals and entrepreneurs in the digital/creative industry. “At Digital Yuppies, we really believe in networking, not just in your country, but internationally.”
• Sara Meleleo is campus manager for Talent Garden Rome. “I am in charge of managing the brand new Campus in Rome. I effectively maintain ongoing campus operations and ensure its functionality, a smooth work-life and keep customer satisfaction at the highest level.”
• Ottavia Tracagni: Art Director, Digital Yuppies, Studioplace. “The role of a good designer is to fight against ugliness through simplification in a meaningful and effective way. I mean in all aspects of profession and life. Create visual trends and graphic artworks that stimulate dialogue and imagination.”
• Vanessa Caldas is from Brazil, but lives in Portugal. Her company, E-Commerce Experience, helps e-commerce startups to scale up. “I believe in connections … we need to connect all the time and get to know each other.”
• Hugo Garcia is innovation director/foresight consultant, Productized Conference. Hugo said he signed up for TechTrek because he wanted to both see Eindhoven’s airport and transportation infrastructure and expand his professional network. “What I do is forward thinking and strategy in transport and consumer behavior. I want to learn about the airport industry here and establish a professional relationship. I want to see why the Netherlands is so advanced in agrotech, and on a personal level, I want to learn about Dutch working culture.”
• André Marquet is co-founder, executive director Beta-i in Lisbon, one of Portugal’s top incubators, and CEO of Productized, a conference for product managers and designers. André said he couldn’t help from noticing how different Eindhoven Airport is from Lisbon Airport in Portugal, where a 100-percent increase in tourism during the past decade leaves travelers there with literally no place to stand.
• Michael Memeteau is from France, but lives in Lisbon. He’s the founder of Nesto.io, an IoT company. “I’m passionate about technology. Gifted at finding the right tool for the job and managing the team to get things up and running. My motto: “The devil is in the details!”
• João Gomes is a masters program student in Lisbon. He describes himself as a self-disciplined, team worker, focused and self-motivated. He is working toward a career focused on optimizing processes, business model creation and contributing creative solutions related to organizational challenges.
What they saw
This is was the fun part … taking them to see the future being created, and then to where everyone goes to hang out after they’ve changed the world.
High Tech Campus
At the Conference Center, Paul van Son, campus marketing director, gave an overview of “the smartest square kilometer in Europe,” where more than 160 tech companies have research facilities and 12,000 people work.
Forty percent of all patents in the Netherlands come from HTC, Paul said. “The value chain is a very big contributor to the overall Dutch economy.” Hence, all the media coverage in the American biz press, with Eindhoven stories, which feature prominently in his presentation. German Chancellor Angela Merkel came to High Tech Campus in 2016 to see how the Netherlands dominates tech, he noted.
The TechTrek attendees also heard from Luiś Oliveira, HighTechXL acceleration manager and a native of Portugal. Luis told the TechTrek teams that he came here with his girlfriend, who works for heart-valve startup Xeltis. He found a region that’s “amazing in tech, where ASML (and other semiconductor firms) are … making the chips for eight years from now.”
HighTechXL, the Netherlands’ premier tech accelerator, has diverse teams that are not only used to working with all ages and nationalities but with big corporations and where 73 percent of the startups are in business.
The final presenter was Quinten Peuling from OOOH studio. His small team combines design, art and technology, creating everything from large displays including a lighting installation for an Amsterdam club that senses heat and reacts to the music and dancing to tiny high-tech computer casings. “We say we’re ‘bipolar, translating technology into design,” Quinten said.
Also on the campus, our groups visited HighTechXL Plaza in Building 12. Here graduates of the HighTechXL accelerator such as Amber Mobility are headquartered. Ottavia and Menke Steenbergen, IPOS founder, immediately bonded over IPOS’s equestrian digitalization approach. Menke explained to the young Italian equestrian how her reign sensors collect data and the metrics she uses.
GrowWise Research Center onHigh Tech Campus was one of the highlights – Signify’s experimental LED light city farming labs. (Signify was formerly Philips Lighting, but was spun off as a publicly traded company.) Here, researchers experiment with artificial lighting combined with climate controls to optimize indoor agriculture. So, there were labs full of lettuce, strawberries and herbs.
Another highlight was StudyPortals in the Klokgebouw complex, a former Philips factory. StudyPortals, which matches students wanting to study abroad with universities around the world, is one of the fastest-growing scale-ups in the Netherlands. It’s also one of the most unconventional workspaces in Eindhoven, from its rooftop terrace meeting space to its collaboration rooms and the general ambiance, culture and philosophy.
When one of our guests asked what StudyPortals does, “We stop World War III,” said Rob Jansen, strategic partnership director and our guide. What he meant, he said, was the goal is to create a generation of students experiencing the world for themselves. “Then you find out ‘the enemy’ is just someone to have a beer with.”
Everyone gets a Nerf gun when they start work at StudyPortals, Jansen said, explaining the pink-and-green “bullets” lying everywhere. “We’re serious about fun.”
We visited Founded by All, also in the Klokgebouw, a creative business hub where aspiring entrepreneurs start with ideas and build their businesses.
Our final stop of the day was at Radio Royaal, yet another Philips factory, and an industrial space that’s been turned into a giant restaurant.
• Vanessa and her husband, originally from Brazil, have two companies in Portugal and ideas for many more. Vanessa spoke to Luis at HighTechXL, who’s also from Portugal, about possible connections for her e-commerce business. She sees the Netherlands as a whole as having a lot of potential e-commerce clients, and Eindhoven as a place for headquarter operations and tech talent, but likely not for fulfillment.
• Sara came for TechTrek to check out Eindhoven for an expansion of Rome-based Talent Garden, where she’s a community manager. Based in Rome, Talent Garden has a total of 23 campuses in eight countries across Europe. “We’re creating a community of people working in the digital space. We give them a physical space to work, but we’re also connecting them globally,” Sara said. Talent Garden Dublin opened the day before.
As they expand, Talent Garden is looking for cities to establish new campuses and Eindhoven is an obvious candidate, she said, because it’s a tech hub.
• Andre Marquet, who organizes product conferences, could see potential in holding a Productized conference in Eindhoven, pulling attendees from nearby Belgium and Germany.
• Hugo Garcia was impressed with Eindhoven and by the end of the night said, “I have to be in Eindhoven. I surrender to Eindhoven!”
“Eindhoven Airport TechTrek really shows what the airport is all about, connecting international professionals with Brainport Eindhoven and vice versa,” organizer Maurits de Beer said. “One full day was really not enough to show all fascinating projects that are going on in Brainport. However, I believe we managed to highlight several interesting companies that tell the story in brief of Brainport Eindhoven for our international guests.”
“We could not have done it without the help of Dispatches Europe, High Tech Campus, HighTechXL, Oooh Studio, Philips GrowWise, Study Portals and Founded by All.”
In TechTrek, Maurits de Beer and other airport executives, in partnership with Dispatches Europe, have created a novel way to introduce Eindhoven and the Brainport Region to businesses – from startups to multinational corporations – across Europe looking for a place to land.
TechTrek is the only program of its kind – an economic-development initiative using the airport to connect this region to the major tech and innovation capitals of Europe. We’re flying in talent from the 80-plus cities (28 countries) to which Eindhoven Airports connects.
The idea is to attract entrepreneurs, tech talent and innovators with the objective of elevating Eindhoven’s profile as an attractive place to live, work and start or expand businesses.
Thank you to supporters and those who spent time with our first TechTrek guests:
Pau van Son, High Tech Campus Eindhoven
Luiś Oliveira, HighTech XL acceleration manager
Quinten Peuling, OOOH studio
Karina Garcia Del Real, HighTechXL Plaza and Holland Innovative
Jarno Mooren, GrowWise City Farming by Signify
Rob Jansen and Natasja van der Velden-Huijboom, StudyPortals
Sander Lieftink, CEO DigiMonks and Founded by All
GUESTS AT LUNCH AND DINNER:
Nestor Coronado Palma, LifeSense Group
Menke Steenbergen, IPOS Technology
Maryam Moubariki, IBM
Cindy Camp, Holland Innovative
Miriam Frosi, Gemeente Eindhoven
Anna Crosetti, JW Player
Mariëtte Harbers, Brainport Eindhoven