© Cartoon Albert Jan Rasker
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Eindhoven is doing well across the border. They even talk about ‘the wonder of Eindhoven’ in South Africa, China and Prague, according to mayor John Jorritsma. At the High Tech Next information day held at the High Tech Campus, he made it clear to the public that this is mainly due to sound economic figures. For example, in 2018 the economy grew faster in the Brainport region than in the rest of the Netherlands. (3.3 % versus 2.6 %), the mayor recounted in last week’s best read article. Eindhoven is also ahead of the rest of The Netherlands as far as private-sector investment in R&D is concerned. Approximately 30% of that investment was made in the City of Lights in 2017. Impressive figures that the rest of the world has also taken notice of.

Brainport brand around the world

Thijs van Son, the mayor’s spokesperson, says that John Jorritsma travels all over the world as chair for the Brainport region. “People already have an idea of what’s going on here in Eindhoven without him having to present any figures. In the many places that Jorritsma visits, they let him know that they are impressed by what is happening here.”

Van Son thinks this is because Eindhoven is perhaps a modest city in terms of population. Yet there is an awful lot going on across all sorts of areas when it comes to the development of technology. “Eindhoven is a veritable city of knowledge, where a lot of things are also being made. We have managed to come back from a near-failure which happened about 25 years ago. Since then, Eindhoven has grown into a thriving region. This has not gone unnoticed abroad either. Usually the idea is that it’s all about Amsterdam or Rotterdam. But what the mayor gets to hear about the city, reveals that Eindhoven is definitely recognized around the world.”

Nothing lights up

Nevertheless, in the The Global Talent Acquisition Monitor, published earlier this year, 64,000 Europeans across 28 countries state which city in the world they would most like to work in, Eindhoven didn’t appear to light up in anyone’s mind. Eindhoven ended up in 316th place as a city of choice when it comes to work. The top 5 is made up of London, New York, Paris, Berlin and Sydney. Amsterdam is the most popular Dutch city among Europeans, coming in twelfth place. Geert-Jan Waasdorp (from the Intelligence Group which conducted the research), believes Eindhoven could benefit from the international reputation of Amsterdam. “I’m almost ashamed to say this, because I am not exactly born in Eindhoven. But a High Tech Campus Amsterdam would be better for the Eindhoven’s competitive position.”

Waasdorp is convinced that we should put the rivalries between different cities aside and not think about things from an emotional perspective. Waasdorp: “I am aware that this is a very sensitive issue. But it’s about improving your competitive position. That’s made easier when you capitalize on Amsterdam’s reputation. If you are able to attract more foreign talent by changing your name, then why not do that?”

A name change is never going to happen

Wouter Jan Verheul from TU Delft (who was not involved in Intelligence Group research) also thinks that it would be a worthwhile idea for Eindhoven to ‘hook up’ with the Amsterdam brand-name: “It’s almost more well-known than The Netherlands itself. If you look at China for example, they’re building millions of cities, the names of which we don’t even know. In that respect, it is good to become part of a well-known brand. Compare it to the Bijenkorf (a major Dutch department store, ed.). All sorts of other brands operate under their flag without giving up their own identity. That you could say in a brochure – to put it bluntly: Brainport Eindhoven, part of Amsterdam Holland Metropole Region, or something like that.”

In Eindhoven, they won’t even think about renaming the High Tech Campus to High Tech Campus Amsterdam. The mayor’s spokesperson says that this is a ridiculous plan which he does not want to comment on any further. “That name change is never going to happen. Moreover, irrespective of this research, you simply can’t respond to every list that the city is included on.”