Dispatches’ first Tech Sister Cities event bringing American investor Jonathan Blue to Eindhoven

(Editor’s noteWe started the Eindhoven Business Briefing in 2017, because we had more news in our headquarters city – which has a huge expat population – than we could possibly post. The future really is being invented here. Send your news to: [email protected])

Dispatches got a chance to pitch Tech Sister Cities last week at the monthly Drinks and Demos, thanks to Bert-Jan Woertman at Technical University of Eindhoven, who’s the emcee along with Hans Meeske at Holland Innovative.


We didn’t do a stellar job of winging it, so we decided to hijack this edition of the EBB to explaining what we’re doing as we get closer to our first big event in September.

Tech Sister Cities –  a subsidiary of Dispatches Media – is bringing international private equity player Jonathan Blue, chairman and managing director of Blue Equity, to Eindhoven. Our main event will be 13 September, but we’re also planning a number of informal events.

Jonathan will talk in-depth about trends in American investing – early-stage, venture capital, private equity/mezzanine funding – with entrepreneurs in our Brabant ecosystem.

He’ll also share his insights into global investment trends, and he has a LOT of experience. And he might see an Eindhoven-based company or two that’s interesting.

Here are just a few of his deals:

• Blue Equity just acquired a majority stake in Napoli Management in Los Angeles. Based in Beverly Hills, Calif., Napoli is one of the largest broadcast news talent representation firms in the United States. The agency’s client includes more than 600 television news anchors, reporters, weathercasters, sportscasters, digital contributors and cable news hosts, including Rachel Maddow.

• Blue Equity already owns a portfolio of specialty talent rep firms including Two Twelve Management, which specializes in chefs; Best Entertainment, which handles NFL players; and 3 Kings Entertainment, which also handles media personalities.

• In 2013, Blue Equity acquired an interest in Angel’s Envy, a new bourbon distillery in Louisville, Ky. Angel’s Envy was acquired in 2015 by Bacardi. Bermuda-based Bacardi is the largest privately held spirits company in the world. Blue Equity also recently acquired the Liquor Barn retail chain from Liquor Stores N.A. Ltd. In Edmonton, Canada.

• In 2012, Jonathan acquired a petroleum products business in Jamaica, which was the exclusive licensed distributor of Royal Dutch Shell bulk fuels and lubricants in the country. He rebranded and expanded the operation into The Antilles Group Limited. TAG also controlled the supply hub for the entire Caribbean market. In December 2013,  Rubis Group in Paris acquired TAG.

That’s just a brief summary, but you get the idea.

Bringing Jonathan to Eindhoven is the first event on the way to building an enduring program connecting great startups to savvy investors on a global scale. We’re already raising funds to take a group of Dutch startups to the Midwest in 2019.

So why are we doing this?

Because while the Netherlands is producing unicorns such as Adyen and, the investment culture remains risk-adverse. That translates into limited access to early-stage investment. Midwestern investors have capital to deploy but aren’t seeing the entrepreneurial originality and ultra-high-tech expertise we have in the Netherlands.

Ah, you ask, what empirical data do you have to back up your assertions? Glad you asked … we had a team from Fontys University in Eindhoven helping us crunch the data from surveys of both U.S. investors and Dutch startups. That data confirms we’re on to something ….

If you want to hear more about that, shoot us an email at: [email protected], or ping us on SM.

HighTech XL has two big events coming up in July

July is going to be an historic month for Eindhoven tech accelerator HighTechXL, with two standout events, including the beginning of a collaboration with CERN, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.

• The CERN Hackathon scheduled for 2 July is nearly at capacity, but still has space for applicants, so take this as kind of a two-minute warning.

Geneva-based CERN has tasked HighTechXL and Brainport’s startup eco-system with a technology transfer – taking the tech coming out of CERN’s labs in Switzerland and taking them to market.

Here are the three technologies:

Accurate temperature control using CO2

Evaporative cooling using carbon dioxide is a technology for systems with high power density, providing highly stable and efficient cooling using small pipes that can extend over long distances. In addition, CO2 is substantially cheaper than fluorocarbon refrigerants and has a much lower negative impact on the environment.

Possible applications: Cooling instrumentation and electronics including servers and routers at data centers

Long Distance Structured Laser Beam

A simple, low-cost system and method for generating a structured laser beam that can propagate over large distances while maintaining a low divergence and small central spot size. This technology has been jointly developed by CERN and the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The SLB can reform around an object placed in its path, potentially making it usable for multipoint alignment systems.

Possible applications: Metrology, Large-scale and Geodetic Metrology, Alignment, Satellite communication, Gas detection, Microscopy, Medicine, Optical tweezers, Laser shows, and more.

Compact High-Frequency Particle Accelerator

As part of the Medical Applications Programme at CERN, a novel, very compact high-frequency radio-frequency quadrupole linear particle accelerator has been developed. A single 1-metre HF-RFQ module can reach an energy of 2 MeV, or two modules can provide higher proton energies (5 MeV in ~2 metres). The HF-RFQ can be used as a stand-alone accelerator or as an injector/booster in larger accelerator installations. The main advantages are the compact size, low beam loss, modular design, distributed RF feeding and relatively low construction cost compared to other RFQ technologies. Although the first HF-RFQ was developed for use in proton therapy, the design can be easily repurposed for a wider range of applications.

Possible applications: Radiation therapy, medical isotope production and ion beam analysis

The hackathon is a community event, with a goal of building diverse teams with a broad range of skill sets, so this isn’t just about physicists, engineers and scientists. If you have experience in marketing, sales, R&D, finance or IP, this is for you. Savvy marketers, tech visionaries, UX talent and developers … you’re all invited!

You can register here, or ping us directly at: [email protected]

The hackathon is at High Tech Campus Eindhoven’s Conference Center on The Strip.

• Three days after the CERN Hackathon, HighTechXL will introduce its new, more interactive format for XL Day.

In fact, they’ve reinvented the whole program. Instead of a conventional demo day, the new format includes:

  • Matchmaking rounds to pair startups with investors and startups with corporate partners.
  • Pitch Competition with startups pitching in front of a high-profile jury to compete for a spot on the main stage in the pitch finals and win a networking trip to Shanghai, China.
  • Expert Sessions: Tech and innovation leaders, investors and corporate partners lead diverse discussions in Expert Sessions where knowledge sharing is key. From technology, best practices, innovation approaches & methodologies, all learn from leaders in their fields … all in an intimate setting perfect for networking.

Under the new format, startups get face-time with a select group of investors and corporates during Matchmaking sessions. They get to pitch to high-profile groups for exposure and the chance to win a network trip Shanghai, where HighTechXL has operations.

Finally, they get access to all conference sessions.

Corporates and HighTechXL partners get to meet with the most promising startups in the region for potential collaboration. They also learn about best innovation practices and trends in the expert sessions while connecting with peers and networking on the way to potential business partnerships.

Investors get to scope out dynamic startups for potential investment opportunities and network with leading corporates and partners for potential business partnerships. There will also be a session on startup-corporate collaboration, pitfalls of investing and emerging technology in the Brainport region, among other discussion topics.

The event is free, but with the more intimate format, there is a limited number of tickets available, so be sure to register TODAY:

Philips acquires Israeli firm

Electronics giant Philips has spun out most of the next-gen tech firms in Eindhoven including ASML, which makes the tech that makes the digital age possible.

While it’s a much smaller company than it was, Philips is still a tech player. The company has agreed to buy EDP Solutions, an Israeli cardiac imaging firm for 250 million euros (about $290 million), according to media reports and news releases.

EPD Solutions developed a cardiac imaging and navigation system which helps electrophysiologists navigate the heart by generating a detailed 3D image of the cardiac anatomy, while also pinpointing the location and orientation of catheters during the diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for cardiac arrhythmias. This technology has the potential to simplify navigation and treatment, immediately assess the treatment result and ultimately enhance procedure efficacy.

We just visited Philips labs at High Tech Campus for the first time. We’ll have more on that in a later post.

Usono expands global reach

This is how medical device startups turn into medical devices companies … country by country, market by market.

Usono CEO Benjamin Tchang, COO Victor Donker and CTO Jori Verbeek – just recruited their first official international Usono Ambassador, Professor Jaroslaw Kasprzak, in Lodz, Poland. The same week, Usono signed an agreement with MDS Cardio for ProbeFix sales in Poland. The ProbeFix device allows clinicians to directly attach sonogram monitors to patients.

This is just Usono’s most recent push into global markets, which now include the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Australia, Denmark and others we probably overlooked. Last August, Usono signed with a distributor, Mermaid Medical Group in Stenløse, Denmark outside Copenhagen, gaining access to nine countries. Usono’s first international client via Mermaid Medical was Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål! Oslo Hospital has purchased Usono’s ProbeFix device.

Late last year, Usono signed with Sydney-based Anaeron Medical Supplies as their distributor for Australia.

In March, top cardiologists from UMC Utrecht and Maxima Medical Center published an article on the feasibility of ProbeFix on stress echo. Stay tuned … we’ve gotten into the habit of dropping by Usono’s offices at HighTechXL Plaza just because we know there’s always something new in the works.

Quick hits:

Another HighTechXL alum, Onera, just announced it’s closed a seed round of financing enabling the company to develop its wearable, fully disposable, medically graded sleep diagnostic device. Oneara is a spin-off from imec and Holst Centre, which is a research collaboration between imec the Netherlands and TNO.

Maker Faire: Eindhoven Maker Faire is back this fall. This is one of Europe’s best maker faires and is expected to draw 50,000 people. And in case you’re not familiar with the concept, maker faires are places where inventors and engineers get to show off their creations from robots to wearables.

You can see all the details here.

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