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On 4 June, E52 will be renamed and become part of an international network

With the transition of E52 into a European platform (or rather: a European network of local innovation platforms), the appearance and name of this site are also changing. On June 4, at the end of the opening meeting for Dutch Technology Week, we will reveal the details. In a two-part story, we’ll fill you in on the backgrounds, our plans, and our motives. (this is part 1, you can read part 2 here)

We announced earlier that we would be starting up a second branch in June – in Munich, to begin with. This first step can – if Munich is successful – be followed by activities in other European innovative cities. The double goal is to strengthen our local force (the faithful readers of E52 do not have to fear that this will change), but at the same time to create a platform for those people for whom the theme of innovation is equally important – regardless of location.

But why then Munich as a first step?

There are several reasons for this. Initially, we mainly looked to the Netherlands for our expansion plans. Could you grow ‘naturally’ from Eindhoven? Brabant, Limburg, from there to the north? Or would it be more logical to first become active in regions that share certain characteristics with Eindhoven, such as Delft and Twente, and perhaps Wageningen as well? That could indeed be the case, but in both cases, it would still be a tough job to keep innovation as a core theme and to actually be able to grow in such a way that the costs would be justifiable.

That is why we started to look across the borders. Based on research from the EU and the World Economic Forum, we have been drawing up lists of urban regions that score highly in terms of innovative strength and talent attractiveness. Indeed, precisely the themes on which Eindhoven is also performing well. What followed was a series of lists with lots of usual suspects (Cambridge, Paris, Helsinki, Zurich, that kind of hotspots), but – to our surprise – Munich also scored high, time and again.

That was a reason for further investigation. Fortunately, we were helped by a recent study by the Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency), for which Otto Raspe had also looked at Munich in detail. From this, the conclusion arose that Munich not only had many similarities with Eindhoven (such as a similar ecosystem and the same combination of agricultural past and extremely innovative present) but was also 6 times larger. Following up on that, we made several visits to the city and we ran into the next surprise: there are already dozens of links between Eindhoven/Brabant and Munich/Bavaria. These links are visible both at company level (VDL is perhaps the best example) and at sector level (such as medical technology, or look at the ties between the Technical Universities of both cities), as well as at an administrative level (Brabant has its own representative in the office of the Dutch Consulate in Munich).

Once we had discovered this, we, of course, entered into discussions with the parties we already knew so well in the Eindhoven ecosystem – and in particular the organisations that do indeed have ties with southern Germany. Many of these discussions are still ongoing, but in one case it has now led to concrete support for our project: the Metropoolregio Eindhoven (Eindhoven Metropolitan Region) has promised E52 a start-up subsidy of €50,000 – precisely because our steps in Munich can also benefit local businesses in South-East Brabant.

Another two weeks

Another two weeks until the start (the countdown timer above this article indicates the exact moment). The new platform is ready, the business cards are printed and the t-shirts with the new logo will be available next week. The new site is being filled step-by-step with the first stories about Munich innovations, so that it will have some content already when we start on June 4th. We think we are ready, but we are also sure that we will continue to encounter imperfections in the coming period.

This is part 1 of a two-part story about the big step E52 is going to take on 4 June. Next Monday (28 May), in part 2, we will zoom in on the way in which we will perform E52’s journalism internationally. You will read that technology will play an important role in reaching our goals, both in finding the truth and in collecting and distributing the story of innovation. Stay tuned.