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Eindhoven Business Briefing for 16 January: The ‘A great start to 2024’ edition

The ASML Experience Center

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

We don’t know about you, but we think 2024 is off to a darned impressive start. The overall economy is booming to the point there’s way too much going on to cover in one installment of the Eindhoven Business Briefing.

Moreover, we can never remember a time when ASML has held the world’s attention like now. Which means, by extension, that Eindhoven is finally building a global brand identity. (Thank you, Bert-Jan.)

As we’re writing this, the Wall Street Journal has a new post about ASML as both an “investor darling,” and as a geopolitical poker chip in the five-card stud showdown for global domination between the United States and China.

In “Chip Wars Boost Europe’s Top Tech Company—for Now,” reporter Steven Wilmot delves into the dilemma the Netherlands faces on selling photolithograpy machines to China. Which the Chinese will use to make advanced chips for everything from cars to weapons, weapons that could end up being used against the West.

Can China reverse-engineer ASML equipment?

Not likely.

Wilmot notes that even ASML’s most advanced competitors haven’t managed to copy its extreme ultraviolet machine, giving it a monopoly on a fundamental AI technology. No advanced chips, no AI, making ASML extremely attractive to investors … but putting it directly in the crossfire of global chip wars.

A few days ago, the London-based Economist had a detailed post confirming what those of us in Eindhoven have known for three years. To build the most complicated machine in the world, the Economist notes that ASML has created a network of suppliers and technology partners that is the closest thing Europe has to a Silicon Valley ecosystem. Yes, the tech is the most advanced. But just as impressive is the world-class semiconductor supply chain.

The post, “Does Europe at last have an answer to Silicon Valley?,” opens with Intel receiving its latest ASML photolithography machine – the TWINSCAN EXE:5200 extreme ultraviolet high-volume production system that can process more than 200 wafers per hour. Then, the post turns into another “you’ve never heard of this obscure Dutch company, but it’s really a mighty tech firm” post.

Finally, the photolithography company is also buying up multiple parcels of land and buildings on the way to more expansion, according to multiple media reports.

Mujin opens Europe HQ in Eindhoven

An Atlanta/Tokyo-based robotics company has chosen Strijp-T in Eindhoven for its Europe headquarters. This is a really interesting company if for no other reason it’s the first we’ve ever seen started by a Bulgarian-born American entrepreneur and a Japanese partner.

Mujin will fit in well here in deep-tech Eindhoven. The company uses machine intelligence technology to give robotic systems “real-time decision-making ability that enables truly autonomous, reliable, and production-capable robot applications,” according to a media release.

Co-founders Ross Diankov and Issei Takino started Mujin in Tokyo back in 2011. It has since expanded to China and the U.S. The move into Europe follows a Series C raise of $85 million back in September. At that time, Diankov told TechCrunch the MujinController allows customers to use various applications for their industrial robots across manufacturing and logistics.

He describes the software platform as “the definitive brain for robots, an indispensable component that drives their intelligence and capabilities across various industries,” according to the post. Mujin specializes in pick and pack e-commerce products. The company recently unveiled a truck bot that can unload trailers and shipping containers.

Mujin currently has five positions open in Eindhoven. You can see them here.

Maaind and Porsche

Drivers have always been able to monitor car performance … speed, engine RPM, temperature or whatever. Now, Porsche is flipping the script, partnering with an Eindhoven-connected startup to monitor drivers.

From the Porsche release:

In collaboration with the London-based start-up Maaind, Porsche is working on two projects that allow Porsche drivers to relieve stress and increase mindfulness — and take the individual Porsche experience to a whole new level.

London-based Maaind is a LUMO Labs company adapting neuro-feedback technologies to all sorts of products including cars, measuring vital signs and speech through wearables. Porsche wants you to feel the adrenaline of driving one of its high-performance cars. What it doesn’t want you to feel is stress and fatigue, signs that your drive might go badly.

The first project is called “Feel-Good-Coach.” It uses Maaind’s technology to detect a driver’s mood and stress level by analyzing several data sources such as the voice or heart rate, according to the release. A neuroadaptive system continuously measures the driver’s mental and psychological or other relevant physiological states.

A second project is dubbed the “The Mood DJ” using AI to enable automatic song selection in real-time based on a driver’s mental state.

Bambi Medical gets CE Marking

We were invited to the celebration marking Bambi Medical finally getting the CE Mark for their Bambi Belt, a wireless monitor measuring the vital signs of premature babies. About 50 people turned out for the party at De Leemer House restaurant in Eindhoven.

Founder and CEO Fabio Bambang Oetomo held forth and took the crowd through the years-long process that positions Bambi to enter the European market, starting with the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. We were there at the beginning after the Bambi team entered the HighTechXL accelerator program in 2016, one of the earliest cohorts. The team, which includes Fabio’s father and CTO, Dr. Sidarto Bambang Oetomo, graduated two years later and have been headquartered at High Tech Campus ever since.

We knew Bambi had potential. We didn’t know the team would have the resolve to stick it out all these years. Which makes them a candidate for the HighTechXL company most likely to have the accelerator’s first major breakout.

Onera raises 30 million euro Series C

Eindhoven-based Onera Health, which develops remote sleep diagnostic and monitoring technology, has closed a 30 million euro Series C financing round. This latest funding round brings Onera’s total investment to date to more than 55 million euros, according to a news release.

Onera, which went through the HighTechXL accelerator in 2017, will use the fresh capital to expand manufacturing and to expedite the clearance of the second generation of its polysomnography (PSG) system in Europe and the United States, according to the release.

The new round was led by new investor, Amsterdam-based EQT Life Sciences, investing from its EQT Health Economics 3 fund, co-led by new investor Gimv, and joined by existing investors, including Innovation Industries, Invest-NL, imec.xpand, BOM, and 15th Rock.

QUICK HITS

• The Gerard & Anton High Tech Piek Awards are in the books for 2024, with HighTechXL CEO John Bell finally getting his due, winning one of four Star awards. Director Brigit van Dijk of the economic development agency Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (BOM) took the Peak Award, the top recognition. John and Brigit are two of our favorite people. A Players want to work with A Players, as Steve Jobs used to say. These two are A Players.

• This is the 25th anniversary year for High Tech Campus Eindhoven and as part of that, there will be an Open Day, when the community is invited to the campus. This year, it will be Saturday, 8 June, coinciding with the Dutch Technology Festival. This biannual event last happened in 2022, when at least 10,000 people showed up. More later as details become available.

• Eindhoven-based TIBO Energy, a Technical University of Eindhoven spinout, has raised 3 million euros in a seed round. We’ve seen their pitch a couple of times, but the focus seems to have changed. The pitches we saw emphasized homes. Now, it appears they’ve pivoted to smart grid tech and energy monitoring.

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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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