“Precisely because things are going so well in Brainport Eindhoven, it is important to link the power of today to the challenges of tomorrow.” Says Arnold Stokking, Managing Director Industry at TNO and initiator of the exploration of the future of Brainport Eindhoven; what are the opportunities for the region when it comes to innovation and new business models in 2038? In this fortnightly column, Stokking and those directly involved explain important points from this exploration of the future.

Arnold Stokking TNO Brainport

Arnold Stokking

How will we earn our money? How do we ensure that the region retains its leadership and resilience in the future? These questions are the reason for the “exploration of the future” of Brainport Eindhoven. The answers are not in the current trend of even more production or making even more and better stuff. People today are worried about other things than a faster computer or a larger television. We are facing crucial social challenges such as the energy transition, mobility, ageing and security. Challenges that can also mean new business activity and new prosperity for our region. But at the same time, they are so complex and large that they need to be tackled collectively.

This requires the ability to think across and beyond disciplines and work together intensively. Exactly the unique characteristics of Brainport Eindhoven that gave us a great combination of knowledge, expertise and – indeed – cash. System integration as described in our Technology Signature is an important fundament for creating solutions for these societal challenges. After all, we all feel that everything is interrelated. Our future must, therefore, be approached in a multidisciplinary way in cooperation between companies, knowledge institutions, many other organisations involved and with the help of the government. In short, the so-called multi-helix approach.

“In our current times of economic booming, we cannot sit back”

We need to further strengthen our ecosystem and Technology Signature, extend it even further and discover new sections. Because even cooperation needs maintenance. We tend to join forces when necessary and then start thinking mainly about our own fate as soon as things go well again. But in our current times of economic booming, we cannot sit back, the social needs are too large and we also have much to lose if we do not focus on the needs that concern us all.

By getting away from the present and thinking (and dreaming) how we can solve these issues within twenty years, we determine dots on the horizon. That’s what we’re going to do, reasoning them back to the now. What do we have in Brainport on which we can build? Which companies do we want to attract? What education is needed? How are we going to shape our business climate and our level of facilities on the way to these visions of the future?

We started this process on 29 June through an inspiration session with more than 80 stakeholders from the region. It was a great start to our exploration of the future. And it shows courage that we as a region dare to think about the next battle that needs to be made. I am convinced that we, as Brainport Eindhoven, can win that battle. Thanks to our rich soil, our unique characteristics and our understanding of what we are proud of. We also earned the title of ‘Smartest region in the world’ in 2011 by our own efforts. Now it’s a matter of accelerating on this.

To map the future of Brainport Eindhoven as broadly as possible, all ideas are more than welcome. If you would like to think along with us, please contact us at [email protected]

Main photo (c) Bram Saeys: Arnold Stokking at the inspiration session of 29 June 2018

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