Steef Blok won the 2019 High Tech Piek Award on Thursday night. Blok received this award for his contribution to the high tech and start-up scene in the Brainport region. Steef Blok is in charge of the Innovation lab at the TU/e. There he is responsible for the cooperation between the university and the business community.

Eindhoven city council member and jury chairman Stijn Steenbakkers handed over the prize: “Cooperation is in our DNA in this region. In recent years, Steef Blok has demonstrated that he is committed to the cooperation between education and business, right down to the smallest detail.”

Blok stated on stage that he considered it a great honour: “We have all worked so hard over the past few years. Now you can see, for example, how successful Ioniqa has become, although there have also been times when it was very difficult. Yet there are always people from TU/e Innovation Lab or Brainport on hand to help. That goes for all the companies affiliated with the university. It takes a a lot of blood, sweat and tears and it’s a risky thing to pull companies out of a slump. I will cherish this award together with the team from the Innovation Lab team as well as the Brainport team.”

The Stars

During the presentation of the Piek award, the winners of the High Tech Piek Sterren (Stars) were also invited on stage at Microlab. Four people were recognized for their contribution in 2019 to the start-up ecosystem of the Brainport region. The winners are:

Alexis Barron, Cyber Weerbaarheidscentrum Brainport /Cyber Security Center Brainport

Jury: “Knowledge is the most important thing that we have here. We would have a major problem if that ends up on the street. Baron helps companies within the region, as well as also outside of it, to become more conscious of their security. And she knows that’s absolutely essential: “Look what happened in Maastricht and we are aware that this threat is real”.

Angelique Staal, Regiodeal program manager

Angelique Staal receives this prize for her part in securing the Regiodeal. According to the jury report, Staal is the €360 million woman. Because that’s how much the regional deal amounts to. Staal herself is somewhat more modest: “I am very happy with this award, however I also want to express my appreciation to everyone behind the scenes. Especially the Brainport foundation, which arranges that public money ends up in the right place.”

Aswin Linden, Heliox

Aswin Linden designs Heliox chargers for electric vehicles. “As the charging infrastructure is extremely important, regardless of whether buses come from China or from this region,” the jury stated.

Hans Helsloot, Patent Office of The Netherlands

The days when major players like ASML and Philips are solely responsible for all of the patents applied for in this region are long gone. And Hans Helsloot is seeing to that. Helsloot: “I am very enthusiastic about the ideas from high-tech start-ups which I see happening here in the region.”

The Stunners

The jury also awarded four Knallers (Stunners) to individuals that they expect much from in 2020. These awards were won by:

Nina Hoff, Byflow

Nina Hoff made a name for herself with Byflow by creating a complete 3D-printed restaurant with everything ranging from the cutlery to the plates. Even the food came out of the printer. It yielded over 30 million views and mentions across all kinds of media around the world. But customers didn’t flock to Byflow. “Then you know you’ve got a problem.” Yet Hoff never gave up. And the jury expects that she will reap the rewards this year. According to Hoff, none of this would have been possible without the support of an anonymous former Philips employee. “Without him, we wouldn’t be here today. Therefore, if you have knowledge and experience, share it. This is what start-ups really need.”

Kees Slingerland, Automotive Center of Expertise

The jury is very pleased with Slingerland’s approach to the Center of Expertise, as he gets education involved in the automotive sector through all kinds of collaborations. “Nobody can do it alone, the jury really appreciates the idea of bringing the triple helix of parties all together.”

Michel Ziekman, Rabo Bank

Start-ups not only need a good idea and expert knowledge, they also need money. “Since nothing gets done without money, we want to ramp up the pressure a bit with that bare fact,” Merien ten Houten spoke from the jury report. Ziekman makes a promise: “It’s great to see ambition. We will definitely be putting more money into the early stages of start-ups next year.”

Rik en Luuk Visser, Microlab

Microlab was born as Atelier Eindhoven, a place where designers, carpenters and other tinkerers could go without needing to have heir own tools. In the eyes of the jury: an open ecosystem where everyone is welcome. “The most wonderful innovations take place at the intersection of the various disciplines. It is much more than a multi-purpose building. The jury has high expectations in view of the news that Microlab is also opening a site at the V&D building in the city center.” On stage Rik especially praised his younger brother Luuk (who wasn’t present tonight) “It’s really cool to do this together with my brother.”

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About the author

Author profile picture Milan Lenters is a writer and editor. Through IO, he got to know his native city Eindhoven in a different way and sometimes looks with amazement at the many stories that lie ahead.