It’s no less than a Silicon Valley in miniature, but somehow all the pioneering work from Brainport doesn’t resonate enough in the rest of the world. “We’re too modest,” says Guus Frericks, founder and CEO of accelerator High Tech XL. “We really need to better share our successes with the rest of the world.”
Frericks made his appeal last week during the visit of Neelie Kroes in Eindhoven. “In a number of areas we are at world level, but to raise money and to find a revenue model, you have to actually participate in the global economy.”
Frericks sees plenty of opportunities for that but he also thinks a few things in the Eindhoven ecosystem should change. “To begin with, it is the attitude of the startups themselves. There are so many geniuses around, but they tend to see the world primarily as one major conference. This way it becomes very difficult to find funding.”
To improve this, Frericks thinks that four steps are necessary.
1. Support from corporates
Investors are afraid to put money in a company that they do not understand. And in the world of high tech hardware – the Eindhoven showpiece – it is unfortunately often difficult to explain how it all works, let alone what the business opportunities are. With the help of a respected corporate – think of companies like ASML, Philips and NXP – credibility can grow faster. And therefore there will be an easier access to money.
2. Chain approach
Just as the city of Eindhoven draws its strength from the string of villages that it consists of, so the parts of the “valorization chain” have to be better connected. Through better links between the different parts within the ecosystem, eventually the whole system will become better.
3. Venture Networks
It’s nice when a startup gets all the help and attention it needs to get through the first difficult years, but what happens afterwards is just as important. As MIT has its venture network, so would Brainport want to develop a pool with representatives from the IP sphere, the suppliers and other relevant parts of the ecosystem. By following and connecting such a young company to for a much longer period (and continue to help it occasionally as well), this company gets more opportunities for success and the entire ecosystem will be reinforced.
4. Share the Success Stories
Lots of successes in Brainport, also in startup companies. For instance, consider the photonics where Eindhoven currently has everything it takes to be a world leader. But the problem is that those stories have to be told more often, in a better way, with more coordination, and most certainly also a lot louder. The region can learn a lot from how the French were operating during the CES in Las Vegas this year: under a single strong brand with plenty of impact for all individual companies.