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Innovation Notebook: Netherlands woos Tesla with ‘Top Dutch’ campaign … and much more

It’s a new year, and once again, Europe is hitting on all cylinders. We’re following up and trying to keep up … updating tech news from late last year starting with Tesla coming to Europe.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a post about Tesla searching for a country in Europe for its new Gigafactory 2, which will be announced this year. Now, the Drenthe, Friesland and Groningen provinces in Northern Netherlands are going all out for the new venture with their joint  “Hi Tesla. We Are Top Dutch” digital bid for this projected $5.2 billion project.

The “Top Dutch” website presents all the outstanding reasons the northern Netherlands is the obvious place for the gigafactory. Those include a corruption-free society and an educated workforce second to none.

(Obviously, being based in the Netherlands, we’re hardly objective. We could write several posts each day just about the innovations going on in Eindhoven.)

The “Bring the Electric Car Home” section claims the first battery-powered car was built in the north of the Netherlands back in 1834 by Sibrandus Stratingh, a chemistry and physics professor at the University of Groningen.

Campaign categories include:

  • 01 – We are the American Dream in Europe cites the Netherlands’ role in shaping Tesla’s home country including New York City and Wall Street. “The Netherlands and the USA are now the third largest foreign investors in each other’s countries. We are both dedicated to innovation, free-trade and entrepreneurship.” The pitch touches on the Netherlands’ many advantages including most Dutch being multi-lingual.
  • 02- We’re Dutch cites the Netherlands’ consistently leading the world rankings in economic power, investments, trade, innovation, competition, democracy and health care. And to top it all off, the Dutch are among the happiest people in the world.
  • 04 – We Are Top of Holland might make the most compelling argument for a Tesla gigafactory, pointing out this section of the densely populated Netherlands has more than enough open land (as well as renewable energy) to accommodate a giant auto/battery factory.
  • 06 – We Are Talent showcases the north’s crazy concentration of brainpower including Nobel Prize winners thanks to its concentration of top universities.

The website is really well done, but oddly, there’s not a summary section explaining the whole approach … though the Netherlands’ centuries of crafting the future speak for themselves. And, by the way, Tesla already has an assembly plant in Tilburg near Eindhoven.

Will this be enough to wrest the Tesla gigafactory and its estimated 17,000 jobs away from top contenders Portugal and Spain?

All one can say is, never try to outguess Elon Musk ….

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 5.55.35 PM

TU/e tops Harvard, at least by one measure

Speaking of the Netherlands, Technical University of Eindhoven is No. 1 on a  list of the universities that have co-authored papers with the world’s most innovative corporations and institutions, according to Times Higher Education.

TU/e professors and students published 1,316 papers with the Top 25 companies on Clarivate Analytics’ list of the Top 100 Global Innovators. That’s about 25 percent better than second-place Harvard and way more than No. 6 MIT (those loser schools.)

Clarivate’s top innovators include Google, Amazon, Apple and the usual suspects.

THE notes that Harvard wins on citation impact of the papers, with a score of 3.71 compared to TU/e’s score of 1.55.

U.S. schools dominate the list, not surprisingly. But the Netherlands has four representatives high in the standings: No. 1 TU/e, No. 9 Delft University, No. 20 Utrecht University and No. 21 University of Amsterdam.

Paris gets big commitment from Facebook

hf_cam_mobilier_designer_gd_nef_02_3500_r03_modif_optThe week is only half over, and already there have been several big announcements including Facebook’s first incubator, which will be at Station F in Paris. FB COO Sheryl Sandburg personally came to Paris to make the announcement Tuesday about Startup Garage from Facebook.

Sandburg said Facebook will work with 10 to 15 startups in six-month cycles. Facebook engineers will hold workshops, and its executives will be looking for new acquisitions, she said, according to the stories posted on the Station F website.

We’ve been watching the Station F project come together for more than a year. This is the brainchild (and money) of French billionaire Xavier Niel, who made his fortune with France’s first ISP.

It started out as La Halle Freyssinet, which Niel billed as the largest digital business incubator in the world. Somewhere along the line, it became Station F.

It will have 366,000 square feet of space, or about 9 acres under roof in a $265 million refit of a former railway depot. (For scale, the biggest Big Box retail warehouses in the U.S. are about half that size.)

The names and numbers have changed over that year-plus since we caught wind of it, but Station F will be huge when it opens in April.

Here’s our blurb on Niel from Dispatches’ debut list of people you must know in Europe’s startup scene:

Niel has been a media and cable mogul since he was 19. He created France’s first Internet service provider, WorldNet, when he was 25. In 2012, he created discount mobile provider Free Mobile, which has totally disrupted France’s cellular industry.

Nordic nations dominate Bloomberg’s “Most Innovative” list

Okay, South Korea is still atop the Bloomberg Innovation Index of most innovative economies. But the New York-based financial news service’s 2017 list is fat with European countries – 12 out of the Top 20.

Sweden bumped Germany from the No. 2 spot on the list. Finland moved up to No. 5 from No. 7. Russia was the big loser, dropping to No. 26 from No. 12!

Israel moved into the Top 10 for the first time.

So, here’s the Top 10:

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 7.53.11 PM

The Bloomberg Innovation Index scores economies on several factors including R&D spending, value-added manufacturing, patent activity and concentration of high-tech public companies.

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