The Dutch province of North Brabant and the municipality of Helmond are taking an important step toward privatising the Automotive Campus. They are doing this together with the third owner of the campus, Dutch construction company Bouwbedrijf Van de Ven, and a new partner Ramphastos Real Estate Investments founded by Dutch billionaire Marcel Boekhoorn.

Boekhoorn’s company bought the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven for €450 million back in 2012 together with a group of investors. This latest acquisition gives it an ever greater stake in the ecosystem of the Dutch Brainport region. The various companies on the Automotive Campus employ approximately 1,250 people.

Future vision

The four parties involved signed a declaration of intent as a first step towards a handover that should take place this summer. A number of issues still need to be ironed out in more detail, including the terms of cooperation, a vision for the future, agreements on the sale of the land and funding. The parties were not prepared to disclose the amount of money involved in the transaction.

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    The Automotive Campus is of enormous importance to Helmond, the region and the province, according to a statement from the municipality. “A flourishing campus further strengthens the position of the Brainport region and puts the region firmly on the map in terms of spatial, economic and mobility developments. The campus has experienced considerable development in recent years. It is now time for the next step.”

    Ample investment

    In recent years, the government has already invested heavily in the construction of the Automotive Campus together with the Bouwbedrijf Van de Ven. The province and municipality of Helmond believe that by selling to a private party, the campus can advance further and above all faster and more effectively. The sale to Bouwbedrijf Van de Ven and Ramphastos Real Estate Investments (the party behind the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven) among others, bodes well for the future of the campus.

    “The Automotive Campus in Helmond is one of the important workplaces in Brabant. It contributes to a prime climate for establishing businesses and to the innovative strength of Brabant’s companies in the high-tech automotive and smart mobility sector. It is an environment where collaboration within the triple helix (entrepreneurs, education and government) is genuinely made visible and where promising start-ups can flourish. Like Lightyear, for example. The step towards a private owner is important for the further progress of the campus,” Erik Ronnes (representative for Housing and Spatial Planning at the municipality) says underlining the importance of the campus.

    ‘Makers of the future’

    Van de Brug, the Helmond alderman responsible for Economy and Innovation, Labor Market and Finance, emphasizes that “continued development of the Automotive Campus is vital to Helmond.” Not only for the sake of job opportunities, but also for the automotive industry. “After all, we prove every day on the Automotive Campus that we in Helmond are the makers of the future. Whether it concerns Altran, Dens or the already mentioned Lightyear. We are not relinquishing everything with the proposed sale, but will continue to jointly steer the campus.”

    With the sale, the governmental authorities want to secure public values for the future. To this end, a vision of the future is being drawn up together with the parties involved. This will set out the steps that will be taken in the future to preserve the important collaboration between government, the educational sector and the labor market (triple helix). A number of issues are set to be worked out in more detail over the coming period, such as a soil survey as well as legal and fiscal agreements. The actual sale is expected to be finalized before the summer of 2021.

    You can read more stories on the developments at the Automotive Campus here.

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Arjan Paans is editor-in-chief of Innovation Origins. Between 2003 and 2008 he worked in Berlin as a foreign correspondent. Aftewards he was a news manager for several Dutch newspapers. Arjan is married and has one son.