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EBB: Why shutting down Eindhoven airport would be economic suicide, and FasTrackathon is back

(Editor’s note: This Eindhoven Business Briefing is part of our Tech Tuesdays series. Dispatches covers tech because so many of our highly skilled internationals are engineers, developers and entrepreneurs.)

The climate protesters who swarmed Eindhoven Airport last weekend don’t understand how the real world works. If they did, they’d fly more, not less.

Last Saturday, Eindhoven Airport – one of the city’s major economic development tools – was a target of an Extinction Rebellion protest when about 100 people were arrested as they tried to interrupt flights. It was big enough news that American media outlets, including Barron’s, reported it. Many protesters carried banners and posters accusing Eindhoven airport – which handles international flights – of being a source of environmentally damaging air pollution. It is. Commercial travel contributes an estimated 2.4 percent of global CO2 emissions. 

I’m totally sympathetic but not at all supportive.

If Extinction Rebellion thinks killing air travel is an option in 2023, they’re sadly mistaken. I mean, you could, but the global economy would collapse. If you really want to make the aviation industry Greener, then you’d book a flight.

Here’s why.

First, there are lots of airports across Europe and none of them is shutting down. Shut down Eindhoven Airport and you put the most important company on earth out of business. ASML ships its giant photolithography machines – unique machines that make it possible to manufacture the most advanced computer chips – to customers around the world.

UPS can’t pick up those deliveries. And if they could, that wouldn’t benefit the environment as supply chain deliveries emit CO2 and other pollutants. Extinction Rebellion supporters could lie down in front of delivery trucks I guess, but airports are an easier target for a misguided movement.

Second, aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus are tech agnostics. They just want to build airplanes and stay competitive. Airlines are tech agnostic. They just want to fly and stay competitive. But the technology doesn’t yet exist to transition from jet engines and turbo props to power plants that can run on sustainable aviation fuels, hydrogen power or whatever comes next.

It will take billions in investment – and a lot of pressure from policymakers – for jet engine builders such as General Electric, Pratt and Whitey and Rolls-Royce to develop non-polluting or even less polluting technology.

Some of that research is happening here, with startup Avoxt at HighTechXL creating technology for efficiently producing non-polluting hydrogen fuels.

That promise will never come to fruition if we shut down our airports and cut off the revenue that in turn funds research and development. Our friends at Extinction Rebellion need to see the whole picture. Though one suspects their vision of the future is not a bright one based on innovation but on a return to a dark past of deprivation and hardship in the name of saving the planet.

– Terry Boyd

FasTrackathon reverse hackathon returns 14 April

HighTechXL’s FasTrackathon is back. This is the reverse hackathon that since 2018 has brought together multiple successful deep-tech startup teams, including Carbyon, Alphabeats, inPhocal and Aircision. Startups that have raised millions of euros while changing the world.

HighTechXL ‘s signature reverse-hackathon is scheduled for 14 April from noon to 5 p.m. at HTC 27, on High Tech Campus Eindhoven.

This is your opportunity to be an entrepreneur for the day and help solve grand societal challenges with advanced technologies.

 At FasTrackathon, attendees choose an interesting technology and brainstorm with others potential application areas and business propositions to take the tech to market. Pitch your boldest ideas to the group at the end of the day. It’s always a high-energy, exciting day, and you should be a part of it.

HighTechXL will open registration Friday, 31 March. Don’t miss out on this unique chance to get inside the process of creating innovative deep-tech ventures.

We’ll have more details and a link to the signup ASAP.

We’ll drink to that

We’ve noticed that the EBBs have way too much tech and not nearly enough beer news. We want to change that.

StudioO4O is reporting Eindhoven breweries 100 Watt Brewery and Van Moll Craft Beer and Stadsbrouwerij 013 have merged into Lighttown Brewers, new production brewery in the heart of Eindhoven. A BIG brewery … 3000 m2, or 30,000 square feet.

According to the brewery website, they’re 72 percent of the way toward raising 2.5 million euros. You can chip in here.

VDL developing site into hundreds of homes

VDL is a bit of an unsung company in the Eindhoven ecoystem basically because it’s privately held by the Van der Leegte famly. But their reach is global, providing a crazy range of products from buses to industrial equipment to clients around the world.

Now, the Van der Leegte family is developing a former golf course into an innovative community with up to 500 homes while preserving most of the land. The trick is the circular design of the project, which looks for all the world like the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

At this point, the whole thing is just a concept. But it’s a good one at a time of high growth and a severe housing shortage. You see the details here.

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