Lifestyle & Culture

Eindhoven Business Briefing: The ‘so many tech revolutions, so little time’ edition

This is Dutch Technology Week, with all the speeches, meetings and government initiatives.

Amid all the brouhaha, a lot of startups in the Eindhoven region are quietly but relentlessly revolutionizing multiple tech sectors.

Take, for example, Accerion, a HighTechXL alumnus. Accerion – now based in Venlo – just closed its Series A funding round as it prepares to take its autonomous technology to new global warehousing and fulfillment markets while doubling its team.

This is more than just another Eindhoven-born startup getting funding. First, Accerion has positioning technology sought after by an infinite universe of potential clients ranging from Amazon’s fulfillment centers across Europe to auto industry warehouses in the States to Shanghai’s port operations.

The tech startup’s positioning technology integrates into new or existing equipment such as forklifts, industrial vehicles and mobile logistics robots, enabling them to perform functions autonomously and with extreme precision even in dynamic environments.

Second, Accerion’s A round is backed by Phoenix Contact Innovation Ventures, a Blomberg, Germany-based corporate venture capital investor, in syndication with LIOF, the economic development agency for the Limburg Province of the Netherlands.

The fact that Phoenix Contact – both the venture fund and the parent industrial group, which reported 2.4 billion euros in 2018 turnover – is backing Accerion is a game-changing endorsement from an international automation-engineering leader.

While Accerion hasn’t released any numbers, our network tells us the injection of new capital is “significant.”

Accerion’s technology needs no special infrastructure. Instead, Accerion’s proprietary intelligent algorithms combined with advanced camera technology not only “learn” the floor as the only directional reference, but collaborates with other vehicles. “Your floor is our map,” is the Accerion motto.

Globally, the market growth rate for mobile robots is forecast to grow by double-digits each year, with an expected valuation of more than 11 billion euros by 2025, according to Zion Market Research.

“The key objective is to get Accerion’s technology to the right customers: logistics automation companies who are building industry-leading solutions, and therefore need the latest, high-performance positioning technology,” said Vincent Burg, managing director.

“It’s amazing to see Accerion, its team and customer base grow exponentially over the years,” said Willem-Jan Lamers, founder. “This investment allows us to accelerate our developments and market adoption even faster.”

The investment comes at a time when Accerion is experiencing exponential growth in revenue and order flow for its Jupiter and Triton packages, with customers in the European Union, the United States, China and India.  Accerion will use this significant capital injection to scale up production and nearly double its team as the firm competes for a larger share of the global logistics, warehousing and fulfillment market.

(We’ll have more later about new positions.)

Burg credited Phoenix and LIOF with sharing Accerion’s vision and goals: “Throughout the investment process, everything was geared toward the growth of our company.”

By the way, Accerion has open positions, which you can see here.

VENTURE CAPITALIST JANNEKE NIESSEN TALKS ABOUT HER SECRET LIFE AS A PRINCESS

FEMALE TECH HEROES AT HIGH TECH CAMPUS

Speaking of Dutch Technology Week, High Tech Campus put on a special “Female Tech Heros” event that – by our count – attracted 600 people over the course of the day on Wednesday … a sell-out.

Eindhoven is trailing Silicon Valley a bit when it comes to women leading tech teams, but yesterday’s event made it clear this revolution has arrived here.

Highlights included:

• a roundtable Q&A with Eindhoven startups and Neelie Kroes. Kroes, a former European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, addressed mostly policy issues. The startup teams we talked with said the event was most useful as a forum to crowd-source issues with other entrepreneurs.

• Carmen van Vilsteren, Eindhoven University of Technology, talked about the seven habits of effective females in tech.

• Inge Lekkerkerker, who took a sabbatical from her tech company to complete in the Master Chef competition. A sympathetic boss made sure the competition didn’t derail her career. Her message was, “appreciate good managers who care about you and help you become the leader you already are.”

• Janneke Niessen, co-founder CapitalT & VCVolt, talked about overcomig bias that’s built not just into society, but even into technology world. That bias leads to negative outcomes ranging from female CEOs getting less funding than male-led teams. And she added a personal note: Societial preconceptions can still limit the roles of women. Even her own children, Niessen said, thought she was a princess whose job was dancing, and whose business trips were “vacations.”

• Anique Soetermeer, co-founder of HighTechXL, talked about how beneficial diversity is for startups … and how difficult it can be to change mindsets and business cultures. HighTechXL is unusual in that it’s a tech accelerator where women are in the majority. It also is culturally diverse, with members from more than a dozen countries including Portugal, the United States, Mexico, Latvia, Greece, the United Kingdom and Bolivia.

Before we forget, GREAT job Ingelou Stol and Hilde de Vocht for pulling together such an ambitious event.

TEACHING EXPATS THE RIGHT WAY TO ACCESS THE DUTCH HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

GGD Zuidoost, a public-health agency, and local hospitals currently are researching solutions to figure out how to reduce the number of expats “self-referring” to hospitals.
Self-referring means showing up at the hospital before having been seen by a general practitioner, which is not how it works in the Netherlands. Here, you go to your family doctor and if warranted, she or he refers you to a specialist, who’s your entrée to the hospital.

(Also, your doctor must be within a 15-minute drive of your home, which of course as DIY expats, we didn’t know.)

People just showing up at hospitals with ailments their doctors could have treated is one of the major reasons American healthcare is broken, so the Dutch are anxious to cure this before it becomes epidemic, so to speak.

So GGD Zuidoost has turned to students at Technical University of Eindhoven to find a solution to the increasing number of self-referrals.

From our student contact:

We have found one of the solutions could be providing information up front. We would like to know if large organizations in the Netherlands provide information on the Dutch healthcare system and the way general practitioners work as gatekeepers? We would also be interested in additional ideas/solutions for solving this problem.

Students pinged Dispatches because, well, we’re a conduit to Eindhoven’s expat community, which is huge. And also, we came here as DIY expats, so no one told us anything.

Our advice was simple:

• Start with employers if you want to reach the majority of expats.

Philips, ASML, NXP and other multi-nationals employ thousands of highly skilled internationals from India to the United States. If they simply include clear instructions about health care in their on-boarding materials and sessions, that should take care of most of the problems.

• Next, post regular reminders on the Eindhoven expat Facebook communities, which have tens of thousands of members.

• Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to organize “How the Netherlands’ Healthcare System Works” seminars at The Hub and at other places where expats gather.

Finally, we reminded our interviewers that there is an actual expat clinic in town, SGE International.

NEW CONNECTIONS TO TURKEY

We’re all about the global mobility of talent, and the more places you can fly, the more mobile you are. So it’s a good thing that it seems like Eindhoven Airport is adding new destinations nearly every month. Next month, there will be a direct flight to Istanbul and Izmir in Turkey.

SunExpress started direct flights from Eindhoven last month. Starting 29 June, Pegasus will fly from Eindhoven to the new Sabiha Gökçen airport in Istanbul.

FASTRACKATHON

HighTechXL’s next FasTrackathon is coming up 26 June. This – let’s just say it – revolutionary concept has just crushed it … and we’ve already signed up 31 people for the next event. What’s changed in the three months since the first event is that we’re starting to get serious, serious talent with serious, serious credentials.

Also, you won’t want miss this version because we’re introducing brand new deep tech from Philips, TNO and CERN, then building startup teams around it. Basically, you can walk into FasTrackathon and walk out as the founder of your very own deep-tech startup. Who’s going to give you a better deal than that??

We’ll have a separate post as we get closer to the event date. But you can go ahead and sign up here if we’ve piqued your imagination.

Bonus brief: As expats, we’re always on the lookout for new housing

• a former industrial site in Aalst that used to make milk cans is now Blikveld complex, with 18 rentals, including one- and two-bedroom apartments up to 85 meters2. The site (it’s still under construction) is just south of Eindhoven, and part of Waalre. The first units will be available this summer. Monthly rents range from 895 to 1195 euros, which is really a good deal. There’s an open house on Tuesday, 6 June. You can sign up here.

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