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EBB: Eindhoven isn’t just the top Dutch tech center … it’s (arguably) No. 1 in Europe

Eindhoven is getting a new conference center

((Editor’s noteThis post about Eindhoven’s tech hub is part of the Tuesday Business Briefing, which includes the Tech Tuesday series and the EIndhoven Business Briefing.)

Is Eindhoven finally getting its due in terms of global recognition? Sort of …. TechCrunch, the San Francisco-based chronicaller of the digital age, just posted the results of a survey of major startup players in Eindhoven, “Investors say Eindhoven poised to become Netherlands’ No. 2 tech hub.”

A headline that sounds to us like damning with faint praise.

No. 2 … seriously? Behind Amsterdam? Where the claim to fame is a beer company, some multinational headquarters, a couple of consumer-facing Unicorns and a red-light district. But that was essentially the consensus of the survey, which included eight Dutch founders and/or investors and one American female startup team member/former Silicon Valley Bank investment executive.

Eindhoven might not be a brand for most people in Europe and the United States, or even for some in Amsterdam. Which makes us crazy since two of the most important semiconductor-related companies in the world are headquartered here along with multiple photonics firms.

Amsterdam might have Heineken, but Eindhoven has ASML, NXP and High Tech Campus Eindhoven. ASML has an 80 share (at least) of the photolithography market, the linchpin of the semiconductor industry. Without ASML’s room-size, 80 million euro Extreme UltraViolet (EUV) lithography machines, the chip business goes away.

NXP both designs client chips and actually makes them at its foundries, chips essential to everything from the auto industry to IoT to electronic passports and contactless cards used by public transit systems.

Finally, Eindhoven has Europe’s only open research campus, High Tech Campus Eindhoven, home to both these companies plus about 230 more, including two venture builders and a bunch of startups as well as a brand-new AI innovation center and a 5G hub.

To be clear, we’re not talking about tech ecosystems in aggregate. If that were the case, London and Stockholm both have the financing Eindhoven lacks. We’re looking at Eindhoven solely in terms of companies with huge market shares and capitalizations in the equity markets. And ASML and NXP are among the most valuable tech companies in the world.

The TechCrunch post set off discussions on LinkedIn and on other social media debating where Eindhoven fits into the global tech ecosystem. Our opinion aligns with Daan A.J. Kersten, CEO of PhotonFirst, who stated that Eindhoven is especially strong in deep tech, hardware, photonics, additive manufacturing, lighting, electronics, semiconductor technology and health tech and weak in consumer products and apps.

And we especially liked his “world dominance in five years” prediction for Eindhoven. We just respectfully disagree that it will take five years. Based on market cap/valuation, Eindhoven is definitely in contention for No. 1 tech center in Europe already, or maybe a tie with Munich, which has Siemens and Celonis. Paris has Dessault. Amsterdam has Philips and Adyen. But really, no other city has anything like ASML.

The TechCrunch post itself has a couple near-misses, including the inference Philips is based in Eindhoven. It’s not. It left for Amsterdam back in 1997, a huge blow to an economy that depended on the consumer electronics giants for generations. (The Benelux HQ, most of the R&D and healthcare remain in Eindhoven.) Also, it refers to Tech Campus Eindhoven as “the local high tech campus” as if there are other open collaboration campuses in Europe. There aren’t.

The TechCruch post features:

More cutting-edge tech coming

In the course of doing our research, we discovered two new next-gen companies on High Tech Campus Eindhoven.

GrAI Matter Labs – AI Innovation Center in HTC Building 5

GrAI Matter Labs is a Paris-based firm on HTCE that’s developed next generation chips modeled on the human brain’s neural networks, billing itself as “the fastest edge AI processor.” Identifying key connections and processing only those parts of the network, the processors avoid large numbers of unnecessary computations, using less power. This technology enables devices such as edge servers to use artificial intelligence in prediction and control. This is essential in IoT – low latency computing power – using less energy yet allowing devices to make ultra-fast computation with virtually no lag time.

Intrinsic ID – HTC 83

Intrinsic ID’s cybersecurity technology uses “physical unclonable functions” – a chips’ silicon fingerprint – to ensure the highest level of security in a cost-effective way. The firm’s hardware and software enable device manufacturers and designers to secure devices with internally generated, device-unique cryptographic keys.

The United States, despite Trump, riots and epidemics, maintains its vast lead over the United Kingdom when it comes to cranking out world-beating startups, according to the latest StartupBlink list. But European countries account for 10 in the Top 15 on the Global Startup Ecosystem Index Report 2021 including Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Eindhoven doesn’t fare very well on this list, ranking only No. 4 for the Netherlands, No. 40 in Western Europe and No. 157 worldwide. Though that global ranking is up 36 places since the prior list!

Unlike so many of these lists, StartupBlink’s rankings are actually backed up with serious research, and StartupBlink has multiple partnerships and data sources including Brainport here in the Brabant Province. We’re still sifting through that data, so more later.

You can sign up to download the list here.

Innovation Origins has the next-gen startups

A robust ecosystem follows The Valley model – new tech startups coming out of a great university joining established industry leaders. Which Eindhoven has minus early-stage investors. Innovation Origins has a detailed post about the role Technical University of Eindhoven plays in refreshing the talent pool with the TU/e Contest, which includes cash and mentoring for local tech businesses such as the aforementioned ASML.

New conference center planned

In addition to TechCruch, Eindhoven is featured this month on Inhabitat, the architecture and design website, and on other architectural showcases. The Inhabitat post shows renderings of a new congress and convention center. This isn’t really a post, but a slideshow with details such as the facade will include nanotechnology that absorbs nitrogen dioxide and can capture pollutants from the atmosphere.

The winning design came from the Elysion Consortium and includes the latest in theater technology and acoustics for the 1,500-person auditorium.

The center is planned on the site of an existing conference center at the Van der Valk Hotel, Aalsterweg 322 off the N2, just east of High Tech Campus. This sort of answers our question as to why a city as large as Eindhoven doesn’t have a conference center or large conference hotel.

Heuvel to “green quarter”?

Celeb architect Winy Maas at MVRDV architects in Rotterdam is proposing to turn the Heuvel urban mall in Eindhoven centrum into a “green cultural quarter,” adding more retail and an entertainment/music center, all encased in a “glass mountain.”

MVRDV is the firm that created the amazing Markthal in Rotterdam. Their slogan is, “We create happy, adventurous places.” So we’re down with the madness. Now, who’s going to pay for it?

MVRDV is the architect for Nieuw Bergen and other projects around Eindhoven.

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