Eindhoven Business Briefing: The ‘future is being invented here’ edition

(Editor’s note: We created the Eindhoven Business Briefing in 2017 because we had more news in our headquarters city – which has a huge expat population – than we could possibly post. Send your news to: [email protected].)

(Correction: In the original version of this post, we speculated that Additive Industries sold six units to GE’s jet engine division. GE is a competitor and the unidentified client is in fact Boeing Phantom Works.)

The Eindhoven Business Briefing has had a few weeks off because everyone was on vacation (this is the Netherlands) and we thought there wasn’t much going on. We just weren’t looking hard enough.

Usually, we like to lead off with big deals or new companies coming to Eindhoven. But this is an emerging technology with the potential to change everything.

Eindhoven has been an innovation center for decades – the video cassette recorder, tape cassette, laser player and CD all were invented here or commercialized here. Photonics and AI are the next wave.

But the new new thing is Li-Fi.

Simply put, Li-Fi is Wi-Fi wireless connectivity that uses light spectra instead of radio signals and is like 100 times faster and actually stable. And like so much advanced technology, Li-Fi is being developed in Eindhoven. In this case, it’s Signify doing the heavy lifting which is – like ASML, NXP and so many other tech giants – a Philips spinoff.

Signify and Technical University of Eindhoven are part of a fully funded, three-year project – ELIoT (Enhance Lighting for the Internet of Things) – developing mass market Internet of Things (IoT) solutions using Li-Fi. (The 6 million euros in funding comes from Photonics21, a public-private partnership that includes Signify, Nokia, MaxLinear, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Weidmüller, LightBee, the University of Oxford, Eindhoven University of Technology and the two huge Stuttgart-based Fraunhofer research institutes, Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI and FOKUS.

Li-Fi is the future because it has so many advantages over Wi-Fi, not the least of which is, your lights have the potential to be a high-speed connection far faster than Wi-Fi. (Which – can we say it – everyone hates because it sucks.)

For example, you can use multiple Li-Fi networks in a confined space without them blocking each other like Wi-Fi. Which means Li-Fi is the better solution in a house full of connected appliances. And the infrastructure already is in place ….

With any luck, we’ll all be using Li-Fi in Eindhoven before the rest of the world even figures out we’ve disrupted the tech world … again.


Retail Fail

This is not directly Eindhoven news, but retail in the Netherlands as a whole just took a big hit. Toronto-based department store chain Hudson’s Bay, which just opened a big department store in nearby ‘s-Hertogenbosch, has announced it’s leaving the Netherlands and closing all stores. That includes a giant store we frequent in Maastricht, but, clearly, we didn’t buy enough stuff.

Overall, retail seems to be strong in Eindhoven. The C&A, which takes up a strategic building on Piazza square, is nearing the end of a full renovation. But there are holes around centrum where stores have closed. With e-commerce giants Amazon, Cool Blue and Zalando making great inroads, retailers are finding it difficult to adapt.

Speaking of retail, Eindhoven’s IKEA store will no longer take cash as part of a test as retail goes digital, according to De Telegraaf. This is a trend, and there are several places in the city where you can only use PIN cards or credit cards including High Tech Campus Eindhoven, which has several restaurants and an Albert Heijn ToGo mini-market.

Digital-only costs less per transaction, and the Tax Man encourages digital because no-cash means no way to fudge revenue reporting. It also makes money laundering more difficult.

Tower of Power

This is one of the coolest ideas we’ve seen this year … and we see a lot of cool ideas. Students at Technical University of Eindhoven have designed a special clean energy tower dubbed the Green Energy Mill for use at music festivals, which are huge in the Netherlands and everywhere in Europe.

The 21-meter-high, foldable tower has solar panels, with a vertical wind turbine on top. And it takes just a few hours to erect and take down.

And sure, it’s perfect for Pukkelpop, Lowlands or Awakenings. But we think the uses are limitless, especially in remote desert areas of Africa and the United States.

DealMaker meets Female Tech Heroes for Codam fund-raiser

This just in! Set your calendars for 13 November at 6 p.m for an all-female version of HighTechXL’s DealMaker. This is a special event in partnership with Female Tech Heroes.

Janneke Niessen from CapitalT; Carmen van Vilsteren, former Microsure CEO; Menke Steenbergen, founder of IPOS Technology; and Susan Ten Haaf from HVG Law will present.

The format includes an educational session on term sheets, those important details that set out the terms of an investment on the way to a final agreement. Then they dive into a mock term sheet from a prepared business case so attendees can totally understand this crucial part of dealmaking

All participants bring serious real-life dealmaking experience and will discuss the good, bad and ugly of term sheets.

HighTechXL’s investor relations manager Betsy Lindsey is the moderator.

This premier event will be at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven Conference Center. (We’ll have all the details and the registration site shortly.)

Tickets are going to be 20 euros, with all proceeds going to Codam, a female-founded coding school in Amsterdam.

Which is a story in and of itself.

Codam is a free education program founded and funded by TomTom co-founder Corinne Vigreux. Codam operates 24/7 and you don’t need a degree, diploma or certification to start learning to code.

The DealMaker event is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Men … you’re invited to join the women.

Eindhoven Maker Faire

Eindhoven Maker Faire is coming up 28 and 29 September. Considering there’s more tech talent here than in any other city, it won’t come as a surprise that this is the Netherlands’ largest maker faire.

Expect at least 15,000 makers and spectators at Maker Faire 2019, which will be in Strijp-S around the Klokgebow.

Highlights include:

• The Crazy Parade of vehicles, the crazier the better.

• The R2 Builders Club shows of its full-scale models of Star Wars robots.

• Projects by celebrity makers such as Ronald Duikersloot at Atelier R&D, Werner Klompen and Matthais Vijverman.

See the website Maker Faire website here for more details.

Tickets start at 13.50 and you can get them here.

Additive Industries pumping money in the US with mystery aerospace client

At the DSM I Am Tomorrow selection event, we heard a lot of buzz about Additive Industries because of the Eindhoven-based industrial 3D printing company is basically in the same industry space as DSM.

So we checked the Additive Industries website and voilà, there was a news release about the Eindhoven-based company selling six of its MetalFAB1 units, which retail for about 800,000 euros each. So, the sale to an unidentified aviation client in California is worth an estimated 4.8 million euros. And the client already has two Additive Industry printers.

Additive Industries clients include huge firms such as Airbus. But our sources told us their best guess as to who bought the latest group of MetalFAB1 machines is Boeing Phantom Work’s prototyping operations in California.

We had seen the AI pitch several times. But it wasn’t until we visited the company’s facility in Strijp-T last May on the DTW High Tech Discovery Route organized by Brainport and BOM that we finally understood how significant this company is.

The huge MetalFAB 3D printers use advanced technology such as lasers to melt titanium powder or ceramics at 2,000 degrees Centigrade, then shape that blazing goo into critical parts for rocket motors, jet engines or Formula 1 cars – parts that can’t be compromised by the casting process.

Additive Industries industry segments include aviation, aerospace, auto industry and even Formula 1 teams such as Alfa Romeo, Bart Horsten, an engineer and manager, told us back in May. This fits perfectly into our “the future is being created here” theme, because advanced 3D printing is key to Manufacturing 4.0.

By the way, we should know soon which startups have been selected in the challenge and will receive an investment/JV from DSM.


HTC End of Summer BBQ

Sometimes, work doesn’t feel like work.

Dispatches was at the HTC’s End of Summer cookout 30 August, and it was a super-great party. Everyone was there from the campus startup/entrepreneur community including the Usono team, Nestor Coronado Palma with EIT Digital, Drinks, Demos and Pitches organizers Karina Garcia de Real, Bert-Jan Woertman and Holland Innovative’s Hans Meeske. And AJ from Jamaica was in charge of the piñata. He’ll know what we mean.

Seriously, it was a great event for networking because several people in town for the DSM Challenge drifted over including a Munich-based startup team. So, it was an incredibly international affair with Beautiful People from the Netherlands, the United States, Jamaica, Mexico, Palestine, Germany, Ireland and a bunch of other places.


Eindhoven is already the center of the photolithography world, the technology that’s the foundation of the semi-conductor industry. The next wave is photonics, using light instead of electricity to power computers.

Which includes the bit above about Li-Fi.

Photonics Application Week is coming up 30 September through 4 October and if you’re a physicist, researcher, doctoral student or deep-tech entrepreneur, this is like Christmas.

There are all sorts of conferences and symposia about how this technology will enhance your digital life.

Photonics Application Week will be held in the Conference Center on High Tech Campus. This is really an industry/research event and is kind of expensive. Tickets start at 95 euros for students and you have to register for each event.


• Sifted has a great post, Why is Dutch VC investment lagging?, that gets to the heart of what’s holding back the Netherlands’ startup ecosystem. But, the silver lining is, the post lists the Netherlands as having created 16 Unicorns since 2005 including, TomTom, Adyen and Cool Blue. Who knew ….

See our Eindhoven Business Briefing archieve here.

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