(Editor’s note: We started 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. Eindhoven is way more than just another tech hub … it’s one of the most liveable innovation centers in Europe. The future really is being invented here. Send your news to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
We’re almost there.
The biggest news out of Eindhoven is that we have a firm date for the opening of the new startup hub at High Tech Campus Eindhoven – Monday, 17 December.
All the details aren’t final, but we know the event will start at 2 p.m. and that HighTechXL co-founder and CEO Guus Frericks will be one of the speakers. HighTechXL, the Netherlands’ premier deep-tech accelerator, will have a sizable new space in the complex, moving from to Building 27 from Building 1.
Another likely speaker is Marcel Boekhoorn, who heads up the investment group that owns High Tech Campus. Boekhoorn increasingly is a player in venture capital and brought Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin to the campus last month. In turn, Boekhoorn and Saverin are connected to Plan B Capital and its various funds, backed by Boston Consulting Group.
High Tech Plaza will be the largest and most integrated startup hub in the Netherlands encompassing more than 10,000 m2, or about 108,000 square feet in three buildings on this giant research campus.
This is a big deal for highly skilled internationals in Eindhoven because the startup scene here is incredibly diverse. Dispatches works with – or has covered – teams from Mexico, S. Korea, Ukraine, Australia and other countries.
The startup hub concept is that of the three dedicated buildings, one (High Tech Campus Building 12) will house startups, one (Building 29) will house scale-ups and one (Building 27) will be the support center where investors, accountants and other business-service providers will have offices. There is also a large events space. We’ve seen photos and all we can say is, “Come ready to be impressed.” Also, we hear Building 12, home to a dozen HighTechXL alums, is getting a makeover.
All the cool kids will be at the opening, and who knows? Maybe Dispatches will team up with HTCE staffers to drop our playlists, which are heavy with the Strokes, PTM, Gorillaz and Calvin Harris.
High Tech Next
Speaking of High Tech Campus, this square-kilometer research campus is the locus of innovation not just in Eindhoven, but for the southern Netherlands.
There’s a big event coming up Friday, High Tech Next. “Next” refers to what’s coming up in the next digital revolution, which will be created here.
• Snezana Zivcevska, Manager Technology & Innovation at IBM on leadership in technical environments
• Harold Goddijn, CEO of TomTom, the pioneering digital navigation company
• Marcel Meulman, top exec at IT of Philips Global Services, who will talk about the future of healthcare
• Christian Kromme, futurist and author of ‘Humanification’
• John Baekelmans, Managing Director of imec. will discuss the Smart Cities trend in the Netherlands
• Jurjen Veldhuizen (Solution Director) and Jeroen Thijsen (Product Manager Wireless Solutions) at Huawei will talk about 5G
As part of the High Tech Next program, there will be 20 Eindhoven-based tech companies -from multinationals to startups – showcasing new technologies in the HTCE Conference Center at the center of campus. They include giant companies such as ASML, TomTom, Smart Photonics, Teledyne Dalsa, NXP, TNO and Signify along with startups such as LifeSense Group, byFlow, USONO, Zens and Plasmacure.
Sjaak Deckers is back!
Sjaak Deckers is celebrated in Eindhoven as the entrepreneur who helped create high-tech spinal implants that allowed paralyzed people with spinal-cord injuries walk again. He and Michel Decré founded, then sold, their medical hardware startup Sapiens to Medtronic for 200 million euros back in 2014. Then, to their dismay, Medtronic shut down the project. Now, Deckers is splitting his time between High Tech Campus Eindhoven and Lausanne as CEO of GTX Medical. And once again, he is making global headlines with promising technology.
Scientific American has a post about GTX Medical’s chief scientific officer, Grégoire Courtine, and his breakthrough spinal stimulator implant that’s allowed three people to walk. Courtine is a neuroscientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The GTX approach more closely mimics the brain’s stimulation than previous approaches and might actually allow healing of the spinal cord, according to SA.
GTX Medical has raised 26 million euros in a series A round … though we’re guessing they need a lot more than that now.
China increasingly invested in Europe – and Eindhoven is the locus
Though that’s changing with breakouts such as Adyen and TranferWise, Europe consistently trails the United States in creating Unicorns, largely due to lack of early stage investment. That could be changing … and China could play a big role.
As we’ve reported, Eindhoven is suddenly on the radar of the Chinese investors, who are arriving almost weekly from Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, looking for promising companies. Conversely, Dutch investors are also looking at expansion opportunities in China.
There have been several groups from China in the city, with several invitation-only events including HighTech Connect China with HighTechXL.
Also, there’s China Business Week, a multi-city program to connect Dutch companies to Dutch diplomatic representatives who can help business executives understand Chinese markets.
What we weren’t aware of until recently was that Chinese companies have already taken a huge position in the Netherlands compared to the rest of Europe.
Lang Yi, Huawei’s COO in the Netherlands, was in Eindhoven earlier this year for HighTech Connect China. In his introductory talk, Lang noted that the EU is Huawei’s largest market outside China, and the center of that market for the Chinese wireless company is the Netherlands.
In a candid talk, he said in 2001, the smart-phone giant was nearly bankrupt. “We moved into the Netherlands in 2004 in a partnership with Teleco Telfort looking for new markets for three foundational businesses.”
• architecture backbone
• cloud storage
By 2015, Huawei was thriving and Eindhoven is its storage, logistics and distribution center. That distribution center includes a 10,000 m2 warehouse that will double in size in three years. Eindhoven handles storage and distribution for Huawei ICT in Europe, which includes 38 countries.
Lang told the crowd of investors and startups that when Chinese people think of the Netherlands, they think of “football, cows, windmills, tulips and education.” Huawei sees the Netherlands as the most strategic location – a gateway to all of Europe.
The Netherlands has:
• Superior infrastructure
• Creative and innovative environment
• Educated, creative and innovative workforce
• Thriving tech sectors
• Great quality of life
Huawei has about 600 employees in the Netherlands, 70 percent of whom are locals, according to Lang. The Dutch operations generated 368 million in revenue for 2017 and injected 37 million into the local economy in procurement.
The company invested 80 billion in R&D from 2000 to 2017 including about 14 billion last year. Now, Huawei is like every other multinational, looking for faster innovation through collaborative partnerships. Huawei has its European research institute in Leuven and relationships with all the technical universities in the Netherlands.
• PSV has created its own startup accelerator. Every big global brand from Louis Vuitton to AkzoNobel is working with startups. We get that. But this is a bit of a surprise: Eindhoven’s celebrated football team is joining in. Dutch football champions PSV has created PSV X, its own startup accelerator. When we first heard this a few months ago, we assumed the accelerator would focus on sports-related startups, with the increasing digitalization of athletics.
Ah, no. It’s a partnership with TedXEindhoven and Brainport, the main economic-development agency in Brabant, Eindhoven’s province. The first two participants are not sports related, but high tech futuristic auto projects, Amber Mobility and Lightyear.
• Got an idea related to HealthTech/digital medical care? Philips just launched its first global start-up collaboration program focused on the application of artificial intelligence in healthcare, according to a news release. Nineteen startups have been selected to work at innovation hubs in Cambridge (Boston), Eindhoven, Bangalore and Shanghai, according to the release. Philips, one of the Netherlands’ foundational tech companies has reinvented itself over and over … and that process continues.
• This confirms something we suspected – most expat students stay in the Netherlands after graduating from Technical University Eindhoven. A post on The Cursor, the TU/e student news website, states that of the cohorts through 2013, about 52 percent stayed in the Netherlands, or about 1,085 students. And we’re guessing other Dutch universities have similar figures.