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Eindhoven Business Briefing: Europe’s startup scene heating up as American investors show up with the cash

(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 developersThe Eindhoven Business Briefing is part of our Tech Tuesday series.)

It’s still early in 2022, but we’re already sure this will be a dramatic year. And no, we’re not talking about Putin’s misadventure in Ukraine. We’re talking about Americans arriving in Europe with cash by the truck full.

Once upon a time, Eindhoven was ignored because Europe was ignored. But boy, is that changing. We noticed it last year when the New York Times and other American thought leaders started covering ASML on a regular basis.

Now, Financial Times has an in-depth post about how Europe is becoming more appealing to the Americans, who used to write off the continent as the past with Silicon Valley as the future. In 2022. The Valley’s fabled venture capitalists along Sand Hill Road are having a bad case of FOMO … because they smell money.

In “Venture capital’s new race for Europe,” tech author Sebastian Mallaby looks at how a general partner at Sequoia Capital, one of the top VC shops on Sand Hill Road, went against the advice of his European-born partners and decided in 2019 that Europe as a whole is sort of like a startup. “The core of his argument was that tech ecosystems are like startups: winners advance exponentially,” Mallaby writes.

Sure enough, in the past five years, Europe has gone from fewer than 10 Unicorns ($1 billion-plus valuation) to 49 Unicorns — a fivefold increase in a relatively short time.

Why are we telling you this? Because success begets success, and Europe has finally reached the fissionable stage. As the post points out, this is the moment many Europeans who’ve been built Unicorns are deciding what they’ll do next, and how they’ll invest their riches. The other major change is that American VCs, in pursuit of deal flow, have abandoned the geographical bias that they would only work with startups 20 minutes away or less.

Mallaby’s post describes Sequoia’s entry into Europe as an inflection point because the VC has stakes in more Unicorns than any other risk-capital investment firm. Now, other VCs see that Europe has the knowledge base through its universities and its global tech companies to spin out a startup ecosystem to rival the U.S., just not sufficient capital.

In the U.S., the post points out, startups proliferate because the VCs make it so easy to get funding and because of far greater risk tolerance. With American capital starting to pour in, Mallaby concludes that Europe is poised to break out despite its bureaucratic policy makers and reluctant indigenous investors.

Sifted covers Eindhoven’s deep-tech scene … and it isn’t pretty

Okay, back to reality. Sifted writer Eanna Kelly spent a lot of time researching the Dutch scene – full disclosure, we spoke with him on background. Kelly got the crème de la crème of our startup ecosystem to go on the record in “While Dutch tech sizzles, it’s a cold winter for the country’s deeptech founders” and they weren’t shy about saying what everyone is thinking – Dutch investors aren’t into risk and really aren’t all that into deep-tech.

The problem is, Eindhoven is all about deep-tech, and unfortunately, deep-tech requires years, tens of millions in capital and a big appetite for risk.

Johan Feenstra, CEO of custom forge SMART Photonics and a serial entrepreneur, and Lex Hoefsloot, one of the founders of Lightyear solar cars, are just two of the Eindhoven-based entrepreneurs. And they confirmed Kelly’s main takeaway:

Sifted discovered that of the 10 most active deeptech investors — the ones that have racked up the most deeptech rounds, including follow-on rounds, in the past five years — none have an office in the Netherlands. The list of the 10 biggest deeptech funding rounds of 2021 is dominated by British, German and French companies. 

Some of the problems he uncovered include:

• it takes too long to “untangle” Dutch startups from the universities, which expect to retain a huge equity stake, then like to extract “royalties” from new rounds of funding.

• when they’ll invest at all, Dutch investor terms sheets ask for a huge slice of a company at insultingly low valuations.

The post is a must-read.

LUMO Labs partners Sven Bakkes, left, and Andy Lürling

LUMO Labs making multiple investments in tech-for-good startups

When we say that 2022 is starting off hot, here’s what we mean: LUMO Labs co-founder Andy Lürling calls LUMO “the Y Combinator for good,” and he and partner Sven Bakkes are on the prowl for promising startups that have the UN Sustainable Development Goals at their core.

This is just mid-February and already LUMO’s fund 2022 investments include:

• Aiosyn:

Aiosyn’s clinical diagnostics platform uses AI-powered pathology algorithms to support pathologists with more accurate and efficient clinical decision making. The technology was developed at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen. It uses a form of machine learning called “neural networks” (or deep learning) to identify abnormal tissue patterns, such as cancer, with unprecedented accuracy. 

You can see the full media release here.

Linksight:

Linksight’s privacy-by-design technology makes it possible to analyze data across multiple datasets without actually sharing sensitive data. In addition, Linksight uses blockchain technology to technically enforce the data analytics/data governance rules and to prove compliance afterward.

There might be more on the way, so stay tuned.

You can see the Linksight media release here.

You can see the full LUMO Labs portfolio here.

XTC deadline extended

Speaking of LUMO Labs, which oversees the regional Extreme Tech Challenge competition, they’ve extended the entry date for the Netherlands/Belgium regionals as Techleap joins the party. The final day to enter is now 21 February.

If you have a tech-for-good startup, winning the XTC regional finals could add 20,000 euros to your cap stack and put you on stage this summer at the XTC global finals. The finals for this regional competition takes place on 24 March2022 at High Tech Campus Eindhoven and you could end up pitching in The Valley, which is where Extreme Tech Challenges is headquartered.

FasTrackathon is back, with HighTechXL creating a new cohort

FasTrackathon was retired for a few months after HighTechXL executives decided to try direct recruitment of new tech and management talent. But the reverse hackathon concept is proving durable, so it’s back on 8 March.

The concept is, HighTechXL builds teams around technology from the most advanced research centers and tech companies in the world including TNO, Philips, CERN, European Space Agency, PhotonFirst and other global innovators. You get to see this tech first and possibly join a team along with entrepreneurs, engineers, physicists, tech experts and business professionals to generate bold, creative ideas. At the event, participants collaborate to identify application areas and business propositions for the technologies, then pitch their ideas at the end of the event.

‍You’ll collaborate with other deep-tech lovers, brainstorming ways to take these advanced technologies to market.

These are the 10 technologies up for grabs at FasTrackathon:

TNO: High Viscosity Fluid Printer
Philips: Fiber Optics Microscope
Philips: Electro Active Polymers  

TU/e: Photonic Switching

PhotonFirst: Multi-sensor Integration for Security

PhotonFirst: Optical Displacement Encoder

Lukasiewicz Research Network/PORT: De-icing Technology

Lukasiewicz Research Network/PORT: Electron Beam for Micropatterning of Ionic Liquid

BioGraph Sense Inc.: BioGraph Sense Technology

Cmosaix: X-ray Imaging Technology

You can get more program details here.

You can register here.

HighTechXL is the premier deep-tech venture builder in the Netherlands.

WSJ: Chip makers can’t keep up with demand

The Wall Street Journal has yet another post which includes input from ASML.

The WSJ also has a post about the Chips Act, the EU’s plan to make up to 49 billion euros available to boost Europe’s microchip production, which will likely mean an incentive or two for ASML.

The post notes that chipmakers are rushing to add equipment to keep up with demand … no surprise there. What is shocking is the fact CEO Peter Wennink has said demand is 40-percent higher than the company can produce, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. “We want to be in a situation that, starting in 2024, we will be able to meet whatever demand the customers have,” the post quotes Wennink as saying.

QUICK HITS:

• Bart Brouwers at Innovation Origins has an important post about the photonics industry in the Netherlands. The post includes an explainer about how photonics, which uses light, is not a replacement for electrical microcircuitry but an essential enhancer for certain applications. Whatever the case, Eindhoven is a player (along with Leuven, Belgium) in this emerging industry.

• Bad news for Dutch companies – Dutch universities want to start limiting the number of foreign students. That’s because the number of kids who want to go to school here is exploding by more than 10 percent per year. That doesn’t seem extreme but do the math and you can see how administrators are struggling to cope.

“International talent is essential” for both research and industry but the increase in the number of foreign students is currently too great to maintain the high quality of courses and is putting too much pressure on staff, chairman Pieter Duisenberg told the DutchNews.nl.

JW Player, which began here and still has ops in Eindhoven, is looking for an innovative and experienced Learning & Development Manager who is interested in driving the design, implementation and evaluation of Global Talent Development initiatives. You will collaborate across a growing global organization to develop clear career progression paths and competencies, refine performance management, and champion the development of high potential and emerging talent. If you are comfortable working with any level of employee or manager, in any region, and have empathy for their growth, development and performance, this is a fantastic opportunity for you.

You can see the full job description here on their website.

• San Diego-based gene sequencing company Illumina is adding people in Eindhoven.

If you’re a graduate or experienced in the field of Supply Chain and Customer Care, they are searching for a Supervisor in Distribution. They are also looking for a Customer Fulfillment Specialist.

If you’re Interested, send an email to: [email protected]

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