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Eindhoven Business Briefing: Pandemic? What pandemic? High Tech Campus startup ecosystem booming

(Editor’s noteWe started the Eindhoven Business Briefing as part of our Tech Tuesday series 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])

Europe’s largest research campus is quiet these days with new pandemic rules from Den Haag encouraging people to work from home whenever possible. Yet a lot of companies, startups and venture builders based at High Tech Campus Eindhoven are making a lot of noise locally and globally despite the global crisis.

• In the effort to increase European risk capital and ward off the giant American and Chinese funds, the Netherlands just fired a shot, funneling 67.5 million euros in venture capital into six new investment funds. And as luck would have it, one of those funds is based at HTC in Building 6a.

LUMO Labs’ Sven Bakkes, left, and Andy Lürling

LUMO Fund II on High Tech Campus Eindhoven invests in the software behind the latest technologies including AI and Virtual Reality.

We interviewed LUMO Labs co-founder Andy Lürling recently and have the details here. Lürling and cofounder Sven Bakkes have branded LUMO Labs as “the Y Combinator for good,” backing teams working on projects that fall under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

LUMO Labs, which is both a two-year accelerator program and an early stage fund, is focused on “Conscious Tech.” Conscious Tech involves identifying the most promising emerging technologies such as IoT, smart cities, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, then building startups around them that will generate significant returns while serving humanity.

It’s an interesting concept, and LUMO has raised serious capital to invest, so this is a fund/accelerator you should definitely know if you have “changing the world” on your to-do list.

Here’s an explainer on the overall Dutch seed funding scheme from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate:

With this scheme, private investors and the government jointly fill funds for startups, with the government contributing up to 50 percent. Of the 67.5 million euros in new venture capital, 32 million comes from the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Salvia Bioelectronics has just raised 26 million euros. Salvia, located in Building 41, is developing neuro-stimulation therapy for chronic migraine. The Series A round is led by Panakès Partners, INKEF Capital and SHS Gesellschaft für Beteiligungsmanagement with participation from BOM Brabant Ventures, Thuja Capital & Dolby Ventures and an innovation loan from Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

Salvia was founded in 2017 by Hubert Martens, Daniël Schobben, Wim Pollet and serial entrepreneur Michel Decré, who also founded Sapiens along with Sjaak Deckers. Sapiens was sold in 2014 to Medtronic for 200 million euros.

Plasmacure in Building 12, part of the HTC startup hub, just raised an undisclosed amount, though our campus sources tell us it was “substantial,” in the 2 million range. Plasmacure uses actual plasma, the fourth state of matter, to treat chronic wounds in diabetics and other susceptible populations.

• Deep-tech venture builder HighTechXL in Building 27 of the Startup Hub just launched seven new teams after the 16 September FasTrackathon. The teams are built around technologies from the European Space Agency, CERN and TNO.

Teams include Ppulse using coaxial pulse conditioner tech from CERN; Haptico, developing a hand controller device from ESA; Spectral Imaging Camera is from ESA. X-ray imaging optics is from ESA and thin film image sensors is from TNO.

You can see more background info here, and we’ll have a full post soon about the new cohort. But bear in mind this newest cohort – the fifth deep-tech group of companies – is just the preliminary stage, and a lot tends to change, including team names as they evolve.

Big blockchain pitch event

We just got a message from Eindhoven-based expat blockchain entrepreneur Violetta Shishkina that she’s helping Chinese investors organize the Golden Panda Blockchain pitching competition on 19 October down in Heerlen, south of Eindhoven near Maastricht.

The competition is both online and live at Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Limburg.

From Violetta:

The judges we have are international experts in blockchain, so plenty of exposure for the participants. Even though it’s a blockchain competition, it’s an event that is interesting not only for blockchain companies but for anyone who wants to learn about the technology and get legaltech consultations for free (we partnered up with a lawyer and are offering consulting now).

What you get when you pitch:

• a chance to go to the finals and win a substantial investment
• a chance to get publicity in multiple publications in the Netherlands, Europe, China and the USA
• an opportunity to meet judges who are renowned blockchain experts

Here’s the schedule from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

9:30 a.m. – opening speech

9:45 a.m. – intro about Chengdu, China

10:00 a.m. – pitching begins

You can see more details here, including potential investment amounts.

You can sign up here.

Unconventional thinking to build convention center

One of the things we noticed when we first arrived in Eindhoven from the United States is the lack of conference hotels and conference centers. Coming from Louisville, a small Southern city (population 1.3 million), we still had multiple gigantic hotels with between 300 and 1,500-plus rooms. We also have a giant state-of-the art convention center with about 1 million square feet (93,000 m2) that recently got a $200 million-plus makeover/expansion.

Louisville has a capacity of up to 300,000-plus attendees for huge events, and before the pandemic, conventions pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the regional economy every year and provided thousands of jobs.

To coordinate all this, we have a convention and tourism bureau that promote the city relentlessly across the United States and competes – believe it or not – successfully with Las Vegas.

We were amazed to discover there really is no headquarters hotel here in Eindhoven … a hotel that can handle large groups business meetings or leisure events. There’s also not in any real way a modern conference center, with the old, small and quirky Evoluon, built in the 1960s to look like a flying saucer, the only option.

The largest hotel is the NH Eindhoven Conference Center Konigshof, with about 500 rooms and 80 meeting rooms. The Van der Valk Hotel has 272 rooms and multiple meeting spaces. But both are dated.

Obviously in the pandemic, our point is moot. But pandemics don’t last forever, and Eindhoven has multiple giant multinational corporations as well as a premium central location to host events from other cities and neighboring countries. Think of all the deep-tech, photonics, AI and startup conferences that would come. We’d go so far as to say with the airport in the city itself, Eindhoven could easily host international groups and events.

Now, there’s a plan to try to raise sufficient funding to build a new convention space in Eindhoven.

Brainport, which includes the city, apparently has pledged 370 million euros over four years, according to Eindhoven365, the city marketing group leading the effort.

From the Eindhoven365 website:

With the Regional Deal Brainport Eindhoven, the government (130) and the region (240) are investing 370 million euros in four years. A one-off contribution of up to 7 million euros has been reserved in the Regional Deal for the realization of a so-called Dedicated Conference Center in Brainport Eindhoven. This is offset by co-financing of 20 million euros from the region. This means that the tendering party must ‘bring’ 20 million euros, possibly with the help of partners.

Commercial real estate is among the many, many things the Dutch do well, so look for this to happen. Our only question is, “Where?” with High Tech Campus the place we think makes the most sense.

And by the way, we want first dibs at bringing in our developers to do that headquarters hotel.

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