Eindhoven Business Briefing: Brainport’s startup engine shifts into global breakout mode

HighTechXL's Guus Frericks at XL Day (Photo by Cheryl Boyd for Dispatches)

Editor’s note: We created 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].)

When we founded Dispatches Europe here in 2016, Eindhoven was a completely different place. All the excitement was in the boardrooms and research labs of Philips, ASLM, NXP and other global tech companies. The startup ecosystem was really just forming, but not much was going on and Eindhoven was on absolutely nobody’s radar as a startup hub.

Flash forward three years and boom! This place is crazy, generating global publicity and investments from Washington D.C. to Berlin to Taipei.

• Last week, Lightyear debuted its solar/electric car, getting worldwide coverage from general news outlets such as CNN to American tech/culture opinion leaders such as TechCrunch and The Verge.

From left, the Incooling Team is Ramon Haken, Karen Huaracha Magaña, Merien ten Houten from Innovation Origins, Helēna Samodurova, Rudie Verweij, Hossein Beikali and Hejran Mehrtak.

Incooling’s World Awards Tour 2019 continued with recognition from Innovation Origin’s Gerard & Anton Awards as one of the 10 Eindhoven startups to watch.

Incooling, which uses CERN CO2 cooling technology, has been to Taipei, Berlin and within the Netherlands this year, pitching and collecting funding. They’re set to return to Taiwan in August for AWS Startup Days

Other G&A winners are:

Spike, which makes components for electric vehicles including motorcycles.

Taylor Solar, a startup working on module-level power electronics.

Ebusco is a company that makes electric buses sold all over Europe.

Hable is a startup that has developed a Braille keyboard for smartphones.

Mentech makes emotion-sensing products and services to quantify mental health.

Ratio has developed tools to model and manage the complexity of big engineering issues for industries including aviation to avoid budget overruns or even worse: fatal errors.

Skotty has created secure app for communications and file sharing.

SALDTech creates and builds commercial Spatial Atomic Layer Deposition systems … next-gen tech for the flat panel display industry including smartphones, tablets, TVs and displays in autonomous cars.

Chromodynamics is developing high-speed, real-time multispectral imaging systems for medical and industrial applications.

So, name us another city that’s pumping out this level of sophisticated deep-tech startups ….

XL Day celebrates deep-tech startups from HighTechXL

Speaking of Incooling, Tuesday was graduation day for Incooling, Aircision and Dynaxion, HighTechXL’s three deep-tech startups built around technology from CERN in Switzerland.

XL Day celebrated the three teams’ acceleration from zero to 100 – from mere concepts last year to headline-making startups this year – with a crowd of more than 200. The 2019 event was different than previous years in that it attracted a large Amsterdam contingent, noted HighTechXL CEO and co-founder Guus Frericks.

While XL Day was about recognizing the three CERN teams, it was also the debut for several teams formed out of the same new HighTechXL venture-building model.

MARCO ARTS GIVES THE CARBYON PITCH (Photo by Cheryl Boyd for Dispatches)

• One of the most intriguing XL Day pitches came from Marco Arts with Carbyon, part of the new deep-tech cohort coming out of HighTechXL’s first FasTrackathon.

Carbyon uses CO2 separation technology developed by TNO researcher Hans de Neve, with the goal of solving the dilemma of air travel, a serious contributor to climate change.

“Airplanes will be burning fuels for years to come. Are you going to give up flying?” Arts asked.

Carbyon’s goal is to make air travel the cleanest form of long-distance travel, he said.

The “magic key” here is to filter CO2 out of the air, then use it to make carbon-neutral fuels including kerosene for jet engineers. “CO2 is extremely difficult to separate and until now, no one is able to do it in a commercially viable way,” Arts told the XL Day crowd. “We’ve broken the code to do this. We provide the missing piece of the puzzle to make clean fuels out of recycled CO2.”

Royal Dutch Shell, SkyNRG and other companies are partners, and Carbyon is raising 2 million euros.

• The Incooling team led by CEO Rudie Verwiej has racked up an amazing collection of awards and cash in the nine months the startup has existed.

“It’s been a crazy and a wonderful ride and the nine months have gone past way too fast,” said Helena Samodurva, CMO, after she gave the Incooling pitch for the XL Day activities.

In the Q&A following Samodurova’s pitch, HighTechXL CEO Guus Frericks pushed Verweij hard to reveal some of the companies Incooling is negotiating with, leading him with, “… the biggest brands in the world – maybe one with the slogan ‘X-inside?’ ” But all he could get from Verweij was the quiet smile of someone who knows way more than they’re telling.


• Fresh from her winning pitch at Get in the Ring’s Global Meetup in Berlin, Dynaxion COO Emma Palmen discussed her team’s selection for the $1.55 million Opioid Detection Challenge sponsored by a number of United States federal agencies including Homeland Security, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Those agencies want to use Dynaxion’s particle accelerator tech to scan packages for illegal substances including heroin and other opiates.

Dynaxion’s Chief Marketing and Business Officer Joost van der Griendt took the HighTechXL Most Valuable Entrepreneur award.

• Aircision’s Luis Oliveria told the audience his company, which uses CERN laser technology, has 40,000 euros in subsidies to put toward their test of 5G capabilities later this year. It was also a breakthrough acceleration period for him personally, said Oliveira, who worked early in his career for Deloitte. After 9 months of sweat and tears, “I know now I want to be an entrepreneur and always stay outside my comfort zone,” he said.

Now, this cohort will move from HighTechXL in Building 27 on High Tech Campus to Building 12, the HighTechXL Plaza that houses a number of HighTechXL alums including Usono, byFlow and Bambi Medical.

We will have a more detailed overview of HighTechXL’s new venture-building program in the near future.


Last month, UPS debuted a new, automated package sorting and delivery facility in Eindhoven. The 27,000 meters2 (300,000 square foot) superhub is equipped with advanced technology that can sort up to 29,000 packages per hour, with the potential to expand to 40,000 per hour.

From the Brainport release:

“Superhubs like this one are game changers and drive our European transborder connectivity, especially in the tech corridor where Eindhoven sits, the fastest growing part of the country where speed and reliability count,” said Nando Cesarone, President UPS International.

So, why are we telling you this after the fact? Because Dispatches’ founders and some investors are from Louisville, Ky., where UPS has its Worldport operation, the world’s largest automated air-freight hub. When UPS opened Worldport in 1999, it turned a slumping Southern post-industrial city into America’s transportation hub.

We’re not sure people in Eindhoven quite grasp the potential of what a UPS hub can do for businesses here and throughout the region.

The potential is nearly unlimited because of three factors:

1 – Eindhoven’s location in the center of northern Europe, connecting to multi-modal transportation network spanning Europe from Portugal to Moldova.

2 – Eindhoven’s weather, which is mild throughout the year with little chance of flight-grounding fog, ice storms or significant snow.

3 – Eindhoven’s tech talent as UPS transitions from muscle power to high-tech systems.

At 20 years old, the Louisville facility encompasses more than 5.2 million square feet (about 500,000 meters square) and employs at least 20,000 people, basically one of every 10 people of working age in the region.

In that 20 years, proximity to UPS facility has lured hundreds of global companies and thousands of jobs to Louisville from Amazon to Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva.

Worldport just got a $300 million expansion that includes the latest conveyor system tech from Vanderlande, based in Eindhoven. And that’s the point … Eindhoven’s logistics systems providers and autonomous vehicle and robotics startups are perfectly positioned to partner with UPS.

Sadly, Eindhoven will never take advantage of UPS’ air superiority because of opposition to aircraft actually flying in and out of Eindhoven Airport.

Every time the airport officials have tried to increase the number of movements, a small but vocal local opposition stopped the expansion of air service. And of course, it’s one of the few major commercial airports in Europe (or the world, for that matter) banned from operating at night.

The bottom line is, in the 21st century, planes are going to fly. People and goods are going to move around the world. UPS will find a welcoming airport somewhere in Europe, most likely in Germany, and that will be that.


• Technical University of Eindhoven just announced a 100 million euro Artificial Intelligence Institute. The Cursor has the story. More as soon as we can get an interview.

Expivi has raised significant funding. The company has 3D e-commerce tech. We’d like to tell you how much, but the news release only says “millions,” which is a loaded word. Millions as in more than one? More than 10? More than 100? The rule of thumb when talking about an investment is, either say how much … or don’t bring it up.

Brainport Development has moved to new quarters in Strijp-T near Additive Industries from the Centrum. Eindhoven News has the story.

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