Eindhoven Business Briefing: The ‘It’s 2021 and Eindhoven’s future is bright’ edition

(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])

Yes, 2020 sucked. Tell us something we don’t know. But amid the pandemic, Eindhoven flourished because it’s built on essential technology from ASML, NXP, Philips and other companies the rest of the world needs. While the consumer sector took a huge hit here, with retailers, restaurants and cafe’s closed right at the holidays, behind the scenes, the innovation has never stopped. In fact, it’s accelerating.

Never has Eindhoven been so close to breaking out on the global stage.

Here’s why:

• Financial websites such as Yahoo Finance have rosy projections for ASML despite the fact the photolithography company is caught up in a trade war between China, where it sells $1 billion worth of hardware every year, and the United States, where it sells about $11 billion.

Yahoo Finance notes that the semiconductor/wafer fabrication industry is ranked in the Top 10-percent of all 250-plus industries on Zack’s. Of that fab sector, ASML owns an 85 market share and regularly reports 50-percent margins.

Markets go through their cycles of boom and bust. Empires rise and fall. And industries emerge and fade. But ASML just keeps innovating and remains the only supplier of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography equipment for semiconductor wafer front-end processing.

Roland Berger’s Automotive Disruption Radar ranks the Netherlands No. 1 when it comes to accelerating the disruptions in automotive technology. KPMG has the Netherlands at No. 1 on its autonomous vehicle readiness Index.

“The Netherlands has a strong position in smart mobility, so we see the ecosystem around Eindhoven as the perfect ecosystem to demonstrate and to apply new technologies. This provides new opportunities that can have a global reach and a global impact,” Maurice Geraets,  NXP’s managing director, told us recently.

NXP and LUMO Labs are collaborating to position Eindhoven as the developmental center.

• As we noted in the previous EBB, Councilman Stijn Steenbakkers has decided he’s going to embrace the startup scene. We were skeptical since his “new” initiatives have been going on for years. But when we talked with Steenbakkers, who is passionate about this, all the goals seemed aligned. Ecosystem players are in on the plan, glad to finally have city officials saying all the right things … and talking about backing up their words with funding.

Flying Forward 2020, a three-year collaborative research project, has started at High Tech Campus Eindhoven. This is the rollout of a new generation of advanced autonomous aviation, such as drones. HTC is the first field lab in Europe, with four additional field labs opening in other locations.

FF2020 is a European consortium to assist the acceleration of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) development. The consortium includes Brainport Development, Maastricht University, Serendipity and Nalantis with supporting partners such as AirMap, LUMO Labs, Eindhoven City, Microsoft, Nokia Unifly, SKYCORP and City of Oulu.

The 5G Hub opened one year ago in HTC Building 25. The lab will let students and researchers “experiment with next-generation test applications, define new business models, and explore live test cases and pilots (including those related to artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and artificial/virtual reality),” according to a news release from Ericsson. The Finnish telecom giant is collaborating with cellular communications/network provider Vodafone/Ziggo and Brainport, Brabant Province’s economic development agency on the project.

Really, the question now is, “Can Eindhoven attract enough international talent to keep all these balls in the air?”

2020 was a very good vintage for Eindhoven startups

We were shocked when we looked back at all the Eindhoven startups that got serious capital injections in 2020. Our total comes to somewhere north of 100 million euros, and of course, there were a few we didn’t know about. The only downside is that too few Netherlands-based investors participated.

SMART Photonics raised 35 million last July in a C round from Dutch VC Innovation Industries. SMART Photonics is an independent pure-play foundry that builds from concept to production very, very expensive photonic chips for high-end clients.

Salvia Bioelectronics has raised 26 million euros. Salvia, located in Building 41 on High Tech Campus, is developing neuro-stimulation therapy for chronic migraines. The Series A round was led by Milan-based Panakès Partners, INKEF Capital and SHS Gesellschaft für Beteiligungsmanagement.

Additive Industries raised 14 million euros from Highlands Beheer BV, the Wintermans family office.

SendCloud, the ecommerce shipping platform, raised at least 12.6 million euros in a B Round led by London-based AXA Venture Partners. The all-in-one shipping platform is in eight European countries including the UK, Europe’s largest e-commerce market.

ONERA Health has raised 9.3 million plus since 2019. The sleep diagnostics startup came out of the 2017 HighTechXL cohort.

Lightyear, which makes electric cars powered by solar panels embedded in the roof, raised 5.3 million euros in a convertible note according to Dealroom. And, previously in July, it had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Sioux Technologies and BOM Brabant Ventures.

Sirius Medical raised a 4.4 million A round from BOM Brabant Ventures, Curie Capital and Holland Capital. Sirius, which develops techniques and tools for tumor location and less invasive surgeries, is based at High Tech Campus.

Nextview, based in Building 27 on HTC, got a “significant” investment from Salesforce Ventures, the investment arm of San Francisco-based CSM giant Salesforce.

Plasmacure in Building 12, part of the High Tech Plaza startup hub, 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.

Amber Mobility raised an undisclosed amount. This car-share company is yet another startup born in HighTechXL’s accelerator program.

Carbyon, which is developing technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, raised an undisclosed amount. And, of course, they’re a HighTechXL startup.

LUMO Labs adds two advanced startups

LUMO Labs, the Eindhoven-based early stage fund/venture builder, is having a very active 2020/2021, investing in two startups.

Just today, 5 January, Andy Lürling and Sven Bakkes announced an investment in FruitPunch AI. Obviously, artificial intelligence is the hottest tech segment at the moment, and this puts Eindhoven ahead of the European pack.

This announcement comes as High Tech Campus Eindhoven officials just announced a new AI Innovation Center in collaboration with electronics and semiconductor multinationals Philips, based in Amsterdam, and Eindhoven-based ASMLNXP and Signify, an initiative “to drive the application of artificial intelligence technologies by companies and organizations in the Brainport Eindhoven region.”

FruitPunch AI has a lot of moving parts, but its core business can be summed up as an artificial intelligence talent forge, “shaping global talent to solve the world’s most daunting challenges through educational programs and building a global ‘AI for Good’ community,” according to a news release.

Co-founders Buster Franken and Sako Arts have a lot of support from Technical University Eindhoven, where FruiPunch AI began. And LUMO Labs’ founding partner sees this as global mobility of talent play.

“With this investment, FruitPunch AI is getting out in front of a trend that’s already happening in the United States where the top tech companies place technical capabilities above degrees,” said Sako Arts, FruitPunch AI CTO and co-founder, in a news release.

“Companies such as Google and Apple now hire talent who might not necessarily have degrees,” Lürling said. “But if people are well trained in real-world work, companies are so much more interested in you than if you simply have a four-year degree. So, you can see why we invested in it.”

Late in December, LUMO announced an investment in AlphaBeats, a startup that combines Philips technology and AI. AlphaBeats has the sole exclusive agreement with Philips to use the electronics giant’s algorithm to measure heart rate variability (HRV), a stress marker. That algorithm, combined with AI, uses biofeedback signals to enhance whatever music  like to listen to. As you relax, music fidelity increases.  

AlphaBeats started as part of HighTechXL’s 2019 deep-tech cohort and stands out with us because the team has an actual physician on board, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jur Vellema. This move a few hundreds meters on High Tech Campus also marks a first-time collaboration between the two venture builders, which is promising.

Both Fruit Punch AI and AlphaBeats join the 2-year LUMO Labs accelerator in Building 6a on High Tech Campus, just across from the new AI center.

HighTechXL Demo Day coming up 15 January

Speaking of HighTechXL, the five-year-old venture builder also had a standout 2020, going digital for its signature events such as FasTrackathon as well as investor events. This has extended its reach significantly.

If you want to see more from the venture builder that produced the above elite lineup of startups and scaleups – companies that have raised millions – you can join the virtual XL Day coming up 15 January.

Eight Phase 1 deep-tech ventures and one established startup will present their business propositions. Sign up here to get more event information and follow HighTechXL on social media for updates

Quick hits:

Innovation Origins has a post about TU/e’s work developing light-emitting silicon. This is – technically speaking – way above our pay grade. But creating a light-emitting silicon crystal is a huge breakthrough that could revolutionize the semiconductor industry, making processing faster than ever.

Researchers believe that creating a laser based on silicon is now just a matter of time. “This would enable a tight integration of optical functionality in the dominant electronics platform, which leads to the potential for on-chip optical communication and affordable chemical sensors based on spectroscopy,” said the lead researcher Prof. Erik Bakkers.

• A bit of bad news: Signify will downsize Eindhoven HQ on High Tech Campus. The advanced lighting company spun off from Philips back in 2016.

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