Eindhoven Business Briefing: Strijp-S emerging as the creative-class district

Strijp-S has ultra-modern high-rise residential towers, galleries and shops … and lots and lots of housing.

(Editor’s note: This Eindhoven Business Briefing focusing on Strijp-S is part of Dispatches’ Tech Tuesdays series. We created the EBB back 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]))

Despite the pandemic, Eindhoven is more of a boom town than ever. Businesses from multinationals to startups are seeing record growth. And more expats are arriving, along with people from across the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Europe. Which is putting more than a little pressure on housing. Which was already tight.

We met recently with Eindhoven Councilor Miriam Frosi, who came here more than 20 years ago from Italy as an expat. She’s now a Dutch citizen and a member of the Christian Democratic Appeal, a centrist party and one of the major powers in Dutch politics. (Despite the name, the party includes Muslims, Hindus, Jews and other religious groups.)

We chose Strijp-S because the district just north of centrum is defining the new Eindhoven, a magnet for young talent and the creative class in particular. During a warm early April afternoon, young people were hanging out – (sort of) socially distanced – in Ketelhuisplein, the green space next to the new Stefano Boeri-designed Trudo Tower “vertical forest,” which is moving toward completion.

Mariam told us about Stijp-S 15-to-20-years ago – cluttered, with abandoned manufacturing buildings from the dissolution of Philips, which had moved its HQ to Amsterdam. Now it’s this amazing collection of new, ultra-modern high-rise residential towers and repurposed industrial buildings, galleries and shops … and most importantly, lots and lots of housing. No section of Eindhoven has changed more in the five years we’ve been here, going from sad overgrown lots surrounding empty buildings to the most vibrant section of this crazy town. We counted at least five new buildings under construction. But the project that’s getting the most pub (see below) is Trudo Tower, which is all social housing. (See more below.)

New construction, including the Sixty5 building at left, is accelerating at Strijp-S.

This is all part of Eindhoven officials’ push to add 27,000 new housing units before 2024, Frosi said: “We need this because the prices are going crazy in Eindhoven.” The truth is, people are arriving in larger numbers, and there are now about 40,000 internationals here out of a total population of 230,000 Eindhoven residents, she said.

She noted that, historically, Philips executives including Fitz, Anton and Gerard, were visionaries who made certain employees had quality housing … housing still sought after today including in Strijp-S. There just isn’t enough.

That said, there are multiple projects in Strijp-S including:

• Sixty5, a new 16-floor apartment building that opened last fall with 105 units. It appears they’re all rented, but you can apply here. Rents start at just over 1,000 euros per month for 66 m2.

Donna, a mixed-use, work-where-you-live 10-floor building of residences and work spaces. In the 12,500 m2 building, there are 34 lofts from about 70 m2 to 120 m2. There are also 26 working lofts (between 70 m2 and 110 m2 ). Construction is just beginning as of April 2021. This is another project by SDK Vastgoed, the largest developer in the region. SDK Vastgoed is the developer for Nieuwe Bergen, which we covered in the most recent EBB.

You can register here.

We’ll have more in a future edition from Miriam, who works hard to solve expat issues and promote the city. We’ll also have more about new housing projects in the region, because you can’t attract the highly skilled internationals our tech giants need if you don’t have anywhere to put them.

Trudo Tower update

We were there at Technical University of Eindhoven back in 2019 when Stefano Boeri visited to talk about the project and his concept of an urban forest – high-rise residential towers that are platforms for trees and other vegetation, both decorative and cooling and they cleanse the air of pollutants. We have to admit we were a bit skeptical it would happen. It’s not only happening, the tower is almost finished in a prime spot in Strijp-S. And this is a building that will put both Strijp-S and Eindhoven on the map for people looking for the city of the future.

All 125 units are social housing, but you can’t just sign up to rent. The apartments are not assigned by lottery, but “by motivation,” according to the website. You have to tell the management company why you’re the right person to live in Strijp-S, which you can do here.

Boeri has built two Green towers in his hometown of Milan, with others planned for Utrecht (north of Eindhoven), Paris, Shanghai and even Tïrana, Albania.

Trudo Tower is getting serious publicity on international Smart City websites and on all the local news websites.

An events space at the new AI Innovation Center (Photo courtesy of High Tech Campus Eindhoven)

High Tech Campus to unveil AI Innovation Center

This is promising to be a stellar year in the tech startup ecosystem, with new developments popping up faster than Dispatches can document them. One that could shape our future is High Tech Campus Eindhoven executives’ repurposing HTC 5 into 16,000 m2 of space dedicated to innovation. The official opening will be opening 22 April, but we got a sneak preview. The AI Innovation Center on the ground floor of HTC 5 is a partnership between the campus and Philips, ASML, NXP and Signify, creating Europe’s first dedicated, integrated and global artificial intelligence innovation center.

Still in the early stages of development, the AI Innovation Center is focused on advancing new AI concepts and applications, developing 21st-century business models and expanding Brainport’s talent base. The center includes events spaces, some very cool offices with panoramic views of the campus lake, co-working spaces and gathering spaces. More as we know more.

LUMO Labs overseeing major new investment initiative

Speaking of artificial intelligence, LUMO Labs on High Tech Campus is the fund manager for a new Dutch early-stage investment initiative. The capital is a subsidy from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s Thematic Technology Transfer fund, which has 24 million euros. The aim is to advance the availability and relevance of AI innovations within society. LUMO Labs is part of a consortium that will receive 8 million of the total.

LUMO Labs joins forces with an unprecedented number of influential Dutch players in the field of artificial intelligence. These include the Universities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Nijmegen and Eindhoven as well as the university medical centers from these cities and the Center for Mathematics & Computer Science in Amsterdam. The consortium is complemented by many affiliated partners such as other technical universities, colleges, incubators, regional development agencies, the Dutch AI Coalition and the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence.

LUMO Labs is the consortium’s pre-seed AI fund manager. This pre-seed AI fund complements the LUMO Fund II, a seed and stage A fund with a broader impact-driven, emerging soft-tech focus and a two-year venture builder program.

“As an investment fund in emerging technologies, we are used to working closely with knowledge institutions. Together with our partners in this new TTT.AI consortium, we are in a much better position to identify promising initiatives and give them a flying start,” said Andy Lürling, LUMO Labs founding partner. “Early-stage funding is indispensable to make the step from idea to impact. Thanks to this TTT.AI consortium, pioneering research and innovative developments in the field of AI will find their way into society better and faster.”

Another cohort of startups qualify for HighTechXL

LUMO Labs is one of two venture builders on High Tech Campus. HighTechXL is the other, and Friday, 2 April was Final Selection Day, where they chose the startups in the next cohort of their deep-tech venture building program.

Drumroll, please …

The five new teams by category in the HighTechXL program are:

• Additive Manufacturing (European Space Agency – ESA)
• Fiber Optics Microscope (Philips)
• Electro-active Polymers Team 1 (Philips)
• Electro-active Polymers Team 2 (Philips)
• Ultra-thin Printed Temperature Sensors (TNO)

Friday started with seven teams pitching their business propositions to a panel which included the HighTechXL team, tech transfer experts and members of the Eindhoven Startup Alliance. Eleven teams formed at FasTrackathon back on 17 March and worked together during the pre-progam.

Yes, this is a competitive program, and this is this is the sixth cohort since HighTechXL pivoted to deep-tech in 2018, building teams around technology from the European Space Agency, CERN, Philips, TNO and other tech giants and research centers. The new teams now enter HighTechXL’s nine-month venture building program.

Since 2015, HighTechXL has produced a number of fast-growing new companies including:

Accerion, a robotics positioning scale-up that has clients in 12 countries.

•  Sustonable uses advanced technology to recycle PET – the component materials in plastics – into engineered stone. The technology was spun out of Royal Dutch Shell and Sustonable recently built a factory in Turkey.

Incooling is working with some of the biggest names in the semiconductor business as they develop a compressor-based system to up the speed – while cutting energy consumption – for high-performance servers by cooling the central processing unit.

InnoFlex is making exceptionally rapid progress developing a de-pollution foil that removes nitrous oxide from the atmosphere and converts it to harmless gas. The foil can be adhered to any surfaces around highways and airports where this sort of pollution is concentrated.

Waterloo, Canada, and Eindhoven in joint nanotech endeavor

The Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, or WIN, at the University of Waterloo and the economic development agency of Brainport Eindhoven in the Netherlands are working together to bring Waterloo’s top nanotechnology innovations to the European Union market.

The first step the parties will take together is to organize a $90,000 joint innovation partnership competition to support early stages of applied research that can be developed to become commercially viable technologies. A maximum of three projects will be awarded, and each will have a principal investigator from the Canadian technology institute and a partner from the Brainport ecosystem.

Nanotechnology – particles one-billionth of a meter in diameter – is revolutionizing everything from medicine to industrial coatings.

“With this partnership, we are bringing in other high-tech firms within the Eindhoven ecosystem,” said Johann Beelen, international business development manager for Brainport Development. “We’re pleased to welcome both HighTechXL and PhotonDelta to the relationship with WIN, further expanding the involvement of companies here in the Netherlands with the exciting work coming out of the institute.”

The City of Waterloo in Ontario and Eindhoven embarked on a strategic partnership in 2014 which paved the way for this historic agreement that aims to foster rapid commercialization and support early start-ups from WIN. It makes sense for the two cities to come together for this – in 2011, Eindhoven was named the world’s smartest community by the Intelligent Community Forum, an honour Waterloo received in 2007.

Quick hits:

• Eindhoven-based NXP is among the semiconductor companies on the receiving end of a major investment – 172 million euros – by Austria via the European Union as part of an effort to stay competitive in tech sectors where the Americans and Chinese dominate. As part of the Important Project of Common European Interest initiative, this marks a big departure from the past when the EU didn’t get directly involved in funding companies, only R&D. The IPCEI on Microelectronics launched back in 2018 with 1.75 billion euros in public funding provided by Italy, Germany, France and Britain. Austria is joining and using the funding to boost NXP, along with Infineon and AT&S, to develop advanced chip security, energy efficiency, and packaging technologies.

• In May, Air Arabia is starting direct flights to Morocco from Eindhoven Airport, according to Studio040. That’s the good news. The bad news is, the flights are to Nador, which is all the way across Morocco from resort cities such as Fez. But, Nador is on the sea just south of Melilla, a quirky piece of Spain that’s on the African continent. So, yeah, we can’t wait to fly.

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