On average, once a year, the representatives of our foreign services – embassies, consulates, NBSOs – get the chance to be updated on the most crucial trends and developments in their home country, the Netherlands. Usually, it stops at a visit to The Hague, and all the stakeholders join them there for their meetings. This year, things were different: in the middle of their ‘return week’, on Tuesday, Oct. 11, the entire group traveled to Brainport Eindhoven. “Because of the increased economic importance of our region, it is only logical that this happens,” says Anne Verhaag, strategy advisor and manager of international affairs at Brainport Development. “And although you can never see the complete picture in one day, we gave them a good update on the developments here. So that, when they are back in their countries of deployment, they know exactly what they are talking about when they represent our country’s economic interests.”
To get the picture as complete as possible, the visit was split into appointments at three of the main campuses: the ‘factory of the future’ including additive manufacturing at Brainport Industries Campus, Smart Mobility and battery technology at the Automotive Campus in Helmond and the MedTech cluster at the High Tech Campus. At all those locations, there were talks and presentations with the makers themselves: the start-ups, the corporates, the campus organizations, and the institutions around them.
“This allows us to update the international network of the Netherlands on the opportunities and players in the Brainport Eindhoven ecosystem. With the right knowledge about the relevant key technologies and the related economic opportunities in international markets, they will be able to represent our country even better. Because the better they know what role the companies and institutions play here, the faster they can link this to the opportunities that arise in their countries.”
This also avoids putting a lot of energy far away from the Netherlands into an apparent opportunity that arises locally but which the Netherlands does not really need. Verhaag: “Not every local opportunity is equally relevant to the Netherlands. We must focus on the themes in which we are very strong. If you have that in sharp focus, we can make optimal use of the network and relationships of our missions abroad.”
Another advantage of coming to Brainport Eindhoven is that actual discussions could take place with stakeholders about what their product or technology offers and with which they want to make a difference worldwide. “We could have traveled to The Hague with a delegation, but of course, it gives much more impact if they hear it from the companies involved, at the locations where it all happens.” And the reverse is equally true, adds Verhaag: “Companies get to know the people who can help abroad. Because it’s also about bringing the international network within reach of all those wonderful companies. On this day, very concretely by bringing them here. That also reduces the distance when a company is looking for entrances for innovation partners in a certain country or looking for trade relations or suppliers.”
Verhaag emphasizes that these foreign posts already know quite a lot about Brainport. “We are already well on the map, as they say. The main issue now is to color the knowledge already present. Take battery technology, for example: within the Netherlands, we are a real pioneer in this field, but for further development, the targets are abroad; so it is very important that our representatives in South Korea, for example, can respond if a relevant exhibition in that field is organized in Seoul. The same applies to Medtech, integrated photonics, additive manufacturing, and various other topics.”
Verhaag concludes that the visit of the diplomats and economic experts has also further strengthened their knowledge about Brainport as a whole. “In addition to all the information they have received from the companies themselves, I naturally also wanted to clarify what they can expect from us as Brainport Development. We are there to strengthen the interaction with the international network, manage the relationships, and cover the international branding of the Brainport ecosystem in all its facets. We also welcome relevant foreign delegations that have something to offer our ecosystem. All in all, this ensures that all those wonderful companies we have here can do the real work together with our forward posts in the faraway foreign countries.”
Now that the delegation has left Eindhoven again, Verhaag is not going on hold. “Count on me to get in touch, whenever I see an occasion to do so coming along. The connections we made during the return week will be our entry point. The soil is fertile now, the seeds have been scattered.”