(Editor’s note: Dispatches Europe tracks the tech scene – startups, scale-ups and mature companies – in Eindhoven because so many of our highly skilled internationals are engineers, physicists and developers who aspire to be part of the new new thing. The Eindhoven Business Briefing is part of our Tuesday Tech series.)
This has been an amazing few months for Eindhoven’s tech ecosystem and for the Netherlands as a whole. Media recognition (finally) in the global press as the world’s most important tech hub you’ve never heard of. The arrival of investors from The Valley and New York City.
And now, serious investment capital is finally flowing to startups and scale-ups.
First, it was streaming enterprise video platform JW Player raising $100 million in June. Now it’s Sendcloud topping that with a $177 million C round from investors led buy Tokyo-based investment giant SoftBank Group. Finally, the world gets it: Eindhoven – the same town that gave the world semiconductor game changers ASML and NXP – can also change the world with software.
Sencloud is basically SaaS, automating the entire shipping process for online retailers, from printing shipping labels and tracking levels to revealing shipping options. TechCrunch has the best post.
We predicted awhile ago that JW Player would be the first huge IPO out of Eindhoven since Signify in 2016 raised 750 million euros. The news about Sendcloud has us rethinking our prediction. But not that much. We’ve always thought Sendcloud could raise as much money as they want in the United States. Think about it … it’s software, which is infinitely scalable. And their niche is assisting e-commerce companies with shipping, the fastest growing market on the planet.
No complicated machines to build or regulatory hoops to jump through. Just come up with a brilliant idea, work hard for a few years and then boom! A multi-billion euro exit. Of course, all of this is predicated on the hope global capital markets keep pumping money. This sort of Bull Market and economic expansion, which dates back 10 years to the end of the Great Recession in 2011, is an historic anomaly.
If we had to guess how long it will last, we’d have to say, “not forever.”
Lightyear raises another 110 million euros
We could also put Lightyear on the list of companies likely to put Eindhoven on the map with an exit or acquisition. The bulk of the latest 110 million euro investment came from Cooperation DELA, a big Dutch insurer, and the new capital will be used to start production, according to Silicon Canals. Back in July, Lightyear announced a production deal with Finland-based speciality manufacturer Valmet Automotive.
This raise comes after a 40 million raise back in March. The media has noticed and taken to calling Lightyear “the Dutch Tesla.” That, ah, is a bit of a stretch.
Lightyear came out of the Technical University of Eindhoven’s Solar Team. By comparison, early investors in Tesla included the crème-de-la-crème of the VC world as well as of the tech world. Besides Elon Musk, Sergey Brin and Larry Page were investors. With serious capital and a lot of expertise in their C-suites and boardroom, Tesla was producing cars within six years. But it was an injection of $456 million in loans/warrants from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009 that turned Tesla into a serious auto manufacturer. Now, it’s by far the No. 1 in the world ranked by market capitalization.
Lightyear has been around for five years and has produced a total of zero vehicles for sale to consumers. The capital needed to start a real car company is only increasing. But, as Silicon Canals notes, Lightyear is commercializing its patent portfolio that includes an efficient powertrain, “a high yield solar roof” and optimised thermal management system that can add seven miles per hour of charging, making it less dependent on the grid. One of the details that’s always puzzled us is, “Why build a solar car that only wealthy countries in the sun-deprived northern hemisphere can afford when a solar-powered car is really only practical in perpetually sunny places such as California, the American West and South, the Middle East, Africa and tropical Asia?”
We see this going one of three ways – Lightyear puts Tesla out of business; Lightyear gets acquired for its technology or Lightyear gets acquired and folded into a deep-pocketed automaker such as Volkswagen Group, a multinational with the global distribution network to scale the technology.
LUMO invests in medical records startup
LUMO Labs, based at High Tech Campus Eindhoven, has invested in Autoscriber, a Dutch startup developing AI-supported voice recognition software that captures and summarizes healthcare professional-patient consultations.
This is a big deal because the technology was developed in a clinical setting in collaboration with the Clinical Artificial Intelligence and Research Lab (CAIRELab) at Leiden University Medical Center.
The investment came from LUMO Labs’ investment vehicle LUMO Fund II TTT.AI – which is part of the ICAI Venture Program. ICAI was founded by the University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Founded in 2016 by Andy Lürling and Sven Bakkes, LUMO Labs is a venture builder focused in impact-driven software and smart hardware startups. The current LUMO Fund II is a 20 million euro impact-driven multi-stage capital fund (pre-seed up to and including Series A). It includes a two-year accelerator and follow-on investments for its cohorts.
This is the third LUMO investment in 2021. In January, LUMO Labs invested in FruitPunch AI, best described as an artificial intelligence talent forge, shaping global AI engineering talent to solve the world’s most daunting challenges through educational programs and building a global “AI for Good” community. In July, LUMO Labs invested in CityLegends, an emerging multi-media urban lifestyle startup, a urban sports and culture platform
Shapeways goes public via a SPAC
Born in Eindhoven, Shapeways is now a publicly listed company via a SPAC. Okay, let’s just get this out of the way right up front: A special purpose access company, or SPAC, is a big money shark waiting to swallow up promising companies. They’re also called “blank check companies” because they don’t do anything but invest. They’ve been around for years and they’re different from VCs and private equity because they don’t do anything but invest. They don’t restructure debt or bring in better management. They just eat. The reason they’re so hot is because they’re underwritten by ultra-wealthy people, hedge funds and institutional investors, and they are able to quickly jump through the regulatory hoops and go public, listed on exchanges and raising the capital they need to invest.
In companies like Shapeways.
The industrial 3D printing company has been acquired by Galileo Acquisition Corp. and will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the new ticker symbol, SHPW. Galileo values Shapeways at $410 million. This is the classic example of technology spun out of Philips’ research labs in Eindhoven that couldn’t get sufficient funding in the Netherlands. So, the founders went off to New York, where Shapeways is now headquartered.
InspiringFifty Deep Tech Awards nominations open
The conventional thinking used to be – may still be in some circles – that womenfolk weren’t meant to be in deep tech. Now, new initiatives are recognizing the women – the engineers, educators, physicists, entrepreneurs and businesswomen – who forged ahead and kicked in the doors.
Nominations are open for InspiringFifty Deep Tech Benelux+ Edition, recognizing women excelling in deep-tech careers as startup and scale-up founders, researchers, government policy wonks or making a contribution in any area. Get them on the list!
Nominations close 1 November and the big event recognizing the InspiringFifty Deep Tech will be 1 December.
AccelerateHER is the overall organizing entity in the Netherlands and in other countries for this global program.
Fe+Male Tech Heroes returns to HTCE on 12 October
This has become a must-attend event for Eindhoven’s tech players … What began as the Female Tech Heroes in 2019 is now the more inclusive Fe+Male Tech Heroes, a night to recognize the female tech pioneers and their males supporters.
The theme for 2021: “Is the sky the limit?”
Featured speakers are Oana van der Togt, Senior Business Development Manager Space & Scientific Instrumentation at Dutch research firm TNO, and Margot Nijkamp-Diesfeldt, co-founder of ESTI – Ecosystem Thinking Institute.
You can see all the details here and get tickets. The event is sponsored by venture builder HighTechXL and Female Tech Heroes, which has 2,000 members!
The event/dinner will be 12 October in Restaurant The Lounge (HTC 1A, first floor) on High Tech Campus Eindhoven, and the campus is open to the public.
Ain’t nothin’ but a G Thang
Finally, this has nothing whatsoever to do with Eindhoven, but WTF … rapper/entrepreneur Snoop Dogg, also known as Calvin Broaddus, is doing ads for Amsterdam-based youth apparel chain G-Star? We get it … “ain’t nothing but a G Thang.” But Snoop is also shilling Doritos, Corona beer and every damn thing. We’ve always loved his music, but what happened to the gangster Snoop? To the Gin & Juice Snoop? Death Row Snoop?
Well, we’ll tell you what happened … capitalism. Compton Snoop is history. Now, he’s Madison Avenue Snoop. With Nipsey Hustle, Lil Peep, Biggie Smalls, Tupac and all the rest looking down on us from Gangsters’ Paradise, he who laughs last, right? But how exactly does the Netherlands relate? The chronic, the Glocks and the Thug Life have absolutely no relevance to this snowy white, peaceable kingdom.
We just had to get that off our chests.
• High Tech Campus is getting a new tech company. Videology Imaging Solutions Commercial Director Johan Scheepmaker posted this on his LinkedIn profile on 20 September:
As a manufacturer of modern products, we naturally want to be as close to the innovations as possible. Therefore, after 25 successful years in Uden, Netherlands, we are proud to announce that we are moving to the “Silicon Valley” of the Netherlands. On November 15th we will be continuing our activities from the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. This gives us the opportunity to work close together with as well experienced as young and dynamic development companies. We expect to expand our developments by partnering with the newest technologies. Videology will be based in HTC5 building, which is also the home base of the AI development center of the High Tech Campus. We couldn’t get any closer! This is the place to be.
Videology is an industrial camera maker supplying the medical, industrial, government security sectors as well as other equipment manufacturers, according to its website. The company currently is based in Uden, Netherland, but has operations in California and New York.