Brainport Toekomstverkenning © Brainport Development

‘Precisely because things are going so well in Brainport Eindhoven, it is important to link the power of today to the challenges of tomorrow’. According to Arnold Stokking, Managing Director Industry at TNO and initiator of the future exploration of Brainport Eindhoven; where are the opportunities for the region when it comes to innovation and new business models in 2038? In this biweekly column, Stokking and those directly involved explain important points from this future exploration. This is the last episode, read the complete series here.

A hotbed of social initiatives. That is the future exploration of Brainport Eindhoven in a nutshell. After the closing meeting on 22 February at Eindhoven Engine at the TU/e, we will bring this exploration towards an open ending. There are still a few important steps to be taken before we can really ‘roll up our sleeves’. The key question is how to get all these images of the future close to ourselves – being Brainport Eindhoven. In other words: how do we bring the future of our region into the present?

In any case, there is no lack of enthusiasm or options. The participants in the meetings made great project proposals with solutions for the grand challenges. And of course: every initiative is very valuable, but we have to make choices. After all, the overarching goal of the foresight is to safeguard the prosperity of the region; creating jobs, to put it simply. The first step that is still needed is to link economic and social benefits. Which ideas contribute to a better world, as well as to the revenue model of Brainport Eindhoven? And can we also export these ideas abroad? What will make us stand out enough in the future so that we can achieve a long-term competitive advantage?

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That is why criteria are needed to select and steer the right project proposals, such as: how big is the economic relevance, can we make business with it, if parties want to take the lead because they think it is important, is 1+1 = 3, do we make a difference with the multi-helix by means of clusters and experimentation spaces and is there technology in it? The latter question also touches on the second battle still needed, with which we build on our technological roots. The initiatives in which we will invest must have a particularly high-tech anchor. This stimulates a certain type of entrepreneurship in which innovation and adaptability are leading. Such a mindset is indispensable for a future in which acceleration accelerates even further and our economic survival depends on our flexibility and adaptivity.

And as the third and final battle, we need a ‘supporting consortium’, as I call it. A leader, a figurehead who takes the selected projects under his or her wings and guides them towards the dot on the horizon that we have all determined. A figurehead for the future-proofing of Brainport Eindhoven. Fortunately, the strategy for this is already there, in the form of the Brainport Next Generation document. It was written a few years ago, but it’s still very relevant. ‘Results from the past offer no guarantee for the future’, ‘adaptivity is essential’, ‘smart and inclusive coalitions of technology, design and social innovation’, ‘reacting alertly to early signals’ and ‘cherishing and strengthening our unique cooperation model’. To name but a few passages as an example.

With the recalibration of this document, the proverbial circle for the future exploration of our region has been completed; we have gone to 2038 and are now back at the heart of the Brainport Next Generation strategy. The route is ready and from autumn 2019 we will take the first steps towards the final destination.

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

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