Skyline Eindhoven © Norbert van Onna
Author profile picture

‘Precisely because things are going so well in Brainport Eindhoven, it is important to link the power of today to the challenges of tomorrow’. 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 the important aspects from this future exploration. Here are the previously published Brainport columns. Today, a contribution by Thom Aussems, CEO of  Urbandustrial

In the Dommel Valley, all primary school children have Dutch, English and Chinese lessons. And for those who want it: Spanish too. Also, the basic principles of the so-called ‘kids project’ of Woensel-West have been introduced in all neighbourhoods: every child with a disadvantage has a mentor. This has had an enormous positive impact on school performance. Alderman Fleur Besters, in collaboration with project leader René Paré of Brainport Eindhoven, has managed to ensure that in every school the children can ‘tinker and play tech’ at least one day a week. This programme component at the schools takes place in collaboration with Brainport Industries, the TU Eindhoven, Fontys, Design Academy Eindhoven and many cultural institutions. As a result, the interest in technology has grown enormously. Increasingly, people want to live in the region because of this very special education in primary schools. This is necessary because the Brainport region, administratively merged under the name ‘Dommel Valley’ is growing rapidly. And is becoming increasingly international in character. The cluster analysis of the Central Bureau for Statistics shows that there is not one cluster in which people of Dutch origin are still in the majority.

Philips, ASML, NXP, FEI and VDL have not turned out to be one-day flies, but rather the tractors of an extremely refined economic ecosystem. In the early 2020s, at the proposal of Hans Verhagen of Prodrive, the CEOs concluded a pact with the most important agreement being to focus R&D capacity exclusively on the important social issues. This strategic choice has given the region an enormous boost. Not only economically, but also socially. In many areas, the region has become the leading supplier of new technologies.

“The region has managed to get all the unemployed to work. Crucial in this are the mentors, volunteers from the business community, who are authorised to organise tailor-made education and training for these new entrants.”

Meanwhile, the number of inhabitants has doubled in the past 20 years, making the Dommel Valley the second largest city in the Netherlands. The doubling has mainly taken place in the ‘urban area Eindhoven’, the space between Oirschot and Helmond (from west to east) and Best / Son & Breugel and Waalre / Veldhoven (from north to south). In the centre of that area, two enormous parks have emerged. Around the small Dommel, the ‘Dommelpark’ has taken shape, in dimensions larger than the Central Park in New York City. The area around that park has a metropolitan appearance, especially because of the housing complexes of 6 to 7 floors high. On the west side of Eindhoven, the ‘Beerzepark’, a nature park of a similar size, has been realised. Within that area, all mega stables have been cleaned up and only organic farming is possible. The housing in the region has been taking shape for more than 15 years through residential co-operations. That trick has been copied from Zurich. Together, the residents own the complex and are responsible for its maintenance and management. Investors with a profit motive are no longer welcome in the domain of living. The housing corporations increasingly also manage the living environment. In this way, the collective intelligence in the region is also used for the public domain.

Eindhoven has become world famous with the ‘Brainport multiplier‘. The Brainport multiplier is a derivative of the multiplier introduced by Prof. Moretti in the book ‘The new geography of jobs’. Research has shown that each additional job in the high-tech sector generates 4 to 5 new jobs. Under the leadership of Thijs Eradus, the former director of Springplank 040, the region has managed to get all the unemployed people to work. Crucial in this are the mentors, volunteers from the business community, who are authorised to organise tailor-made education and training for these new entrants. As an accompanying policy, the Dommel Valley has put demands on immigration. In doing so, the region was inspired by Canada and Australia: a residence and work permit is only obtained if one can in any way add economic value to the region. Of course, with the exception of the official refugees, who are warmly welcomed, but this group is also expected to contribute to society.

The biggest change has taken place in the field of mobility. Brainport mobility has managed to ensure that more than two-thirds of all traffic movements within the region take place on foot, by bicycle or by public transport. Pedelecs and scooters are particularly popular. The luggage is delivered via drones.

Thom Aussems is the CEO of the one-pitter Urbandustrial

Photo (c) Norbert van Onna: Skyline of Eindhoven