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Eindhoven Business Briefing for 27 February: The ‘Americans come with cash’ edition

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

Welcome to the Eindhoven Business Briefing for 27 February. It was a wild month of news in Eindhoven, some of it good, some not so good. Such is life in the big city. But what’s clear is that while Europe – and Eindhoven in particular – produce the most advanced tech, the Americans are the ones who ultimately benefit.

Let’s start with a little bit of a bummer.

Remember back when we told you about Meta’s acquisition of High Tech Campus Eindhoven-based Luxexcel, the first Eindhoven-based tech company to be acquired by a huge American tech company since Medtronic acquired Sapiens for $200 million back in 2014? And we also told you it wouldn’t be the last. Meta apparently acquired high-tech lens maker Luxexcel for its immersive virtual reality technology, but executives have never never really said.

Now, Santa Monica, Calif.-based tech company Snap (originally the Snapchat messaging app) has acquired GrAI Matter Labs, which was partly based at High Tech Campus Eindhoven though the HQ was in Paris.

Unless you read a post we wrote a year ago for High Tech Campus, you’ve never heard of GrAI Matter Labs, but Snap clearly considers them the next big thing in aritificial intelligence. GML has developed neuromorphic system-on-a-chip platform that processes more like the human brain than a conventional CPU. In that interview with Menno Lindwer, VP of Intellectual Property at GML, we had to digest so much AI jargon – “latency,” “neural networking,” “sensory inputs” – that we’re only now back to normal.

But here’s what the GrAI Matter VIP chip can do in the real world: “The chip can be built into applications, such as smart robots that can track a person, speakers that process music and even medical devices that recognize heartbeats and other real-time audio inputs.”

The Eindhoven branch was responsible for architecture exploration, hardware design and AI tools, with Paris and San Jose focusing more on GML applications and business development. The company drew on talent from Philips, Intel and Qualcomm.

Even then, it was clear that only American investors would be willing and able to fund GrAI Matter Labs, which already had raised $29 million at the time of our interview. In our post, we note that the U.S.-based team was “on the lookout for large, forward-thinking companies with a willingness to work with small, yet ambitious, startups such as theirs.”

Looks like they found them … and like Luxexcel, this world-changing tech developed in Europe is now American-owned.

If you read French, here’s a more detailed post.

The question is, which technology will they come for next?

Europhobia in an unexpected place

We were shocked to read a post on The Hill, a respected American political website, that energy prices in Europe are so high that the entire continent is, in the words of the author, “de-industrializing.” Imagine! Huge factories all over Europe just sitting there empty.

As Donald Trump would say, “Sad!”

Not surprisingly, there is a direct connection to the Orange Menace. The author of “High electricity prices have Europe facing deindustrialization; don’t let it happen here,” is Mario Loyola. Loyola is a former Trump administration official and a senior research fellow at the fossil-fuel funded Heritage Foundation. His screed is a warning to America not to emulate Europe’s dangerous, destructive drift toward renewable energy and regulation, with costs so high that next thing you know, all of Europe will be back hunting and gathering.

 “After soaring to 10 times their 2019 levels a year ago,” Loyola wrote, “Europe’s electricity prices have settled at triple their pre-pandemic levels. They are projected to remain at this level for some time.”

Which is – excuse our French – complete MAGA bullshit.

Of course energy prices spiked in February 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine, an important natural gas supplier to Europe. But renewables – wind and solar – are increasing and demand for natural gas is falling below 2021 levels, according to Financial Times.

Loyola pulls the neat rhetorical trick of not mentioning Russia’s aggression and the chaos it’s caused in energy markets.

Why omit that one crucial piece of information? Because MAGA loves Putin.

What Loyola is really upset about is a new effort by the Biden Administration to slow approvals for liquefied natural gas export licenses, and Europe is the Straw Man in his argument. What’s more distressing is that Europe, with its push for sustainability, represents for MAGA the worst thing that could happen to America.

We direct messaged Loyola on LinkedIn, telling him his post is wildly misleading. He replied that he cited a European Commission report and trade union leaders’ statements. “If you can find facts and figures to refute a European Commission report, I will certainly publish it,” he wrote.

Hot property

While office space real estate is near collapse in the United States, with empty skyscrapers all across the country, the market is strong here as most tech companies require teams to collaborate in person. High Tech Campus Eindhoven is building an 11-story building, Lucis One, which already has leased three floors months before it’s even complete.

Infoland is set to move from Veldhoven to the fifth and sixth floors of building Lucis One. The 25-year-old firm specializes in developing software for quality and risk management and software for digital assessments. Infoland is scheduled to move in this fall.

Hilbert Leijen, Infoland CTO, stated that for the company to relocate, “It had to be an inspiring, vibrant location – a place where employees, customers and partners enjoy coming. And we found that place on the High Tech Campus. Lucis One meets all our requirements and offers an important bonus in the form of the innovation ecosystem.”

Chicago-based data communications equipment giant Molex has taken the entire first floor, 1,600 meters squared, or about 16,000 square feet.

We chatted with Elsbeth Smit, senior director of real estate at HTCE, and she told us that the focus for the new building and the six that will follow will align with the original Philips vision of a center for semiconductor, medtech/health, energy transition and sustainability. The electronics giant built the campus before it relocated its headquarters to Amsterdam in 1997.

And yes, “it’s possible we’ll say no” to companies that don’t match High Tech Campus Eindhoven’s 25-year reputation as a preeminent R&D campus, Elsbeth said.

The building exterior appears to be about 75-percent complete, with a topping-off ceremony next month. Lucis One constructiohn is projected to wrap in August and open this coming fall. When it does, the sustainable building will have amenities such has a shared roof terrace for the fourth, fifth and sixth floors and the newest technologies. Offices start at 560 meters and go up to a full floor.

We’ll have more later from our talk with Elsbeth.

Carbyon to Canada

Big news from HTCE resident Carbyon … the startup team in HTC 27 announced a partnership with Québec-based Deep Sky, the world’s first gigaton-scale carbon removal company.

Carbyon will supply two Air Processing Units to Deep Sky, each with a capacity to remove 50 tons of CO2 per year, according to a media release. The system will be installed in Québec later this year, tapping into the region’s vast renewable hydroelectric energy reserves.

Carbyon develops equipment to filter CO2 from the air for underground storage. It’s a spinoff of TNO, where CEO Hans De Neve helped develop the carbon capture technology.

Carbyon is an alum of HighTechXL, the Netherlands’ only deep-tech venture builder, also a HTCE resident. The startup is an XPRIZE Milestone Award winner, receiving $1 million from the Elon Musk-funded initiative. The team has raised $10 million in funding to date.

Quick Hit

Singapore-based LEO Drive, which designs autonomous driving technology, has expanded into Europe with its new operations at Helmond Automotive Campus.

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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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