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Starting next year, startups in the digital world are welcome in Heerlen. A new startup program will start at the Brightlands Smart Services Campus in 2019. Brightlands HIVE, as the name will be, stands for Hi-Tech Innovation & Venture Engine. Startups in the digital environment need a specific complementary approach when it comes to, for example, capacity for application design and development. The dynamics and speed of developments in the digital world also place other demands on funding. The program is therefore not only about financial support.

Starting companies can use the existing network, a mix of young talent and experienced employees, from the campus in Heerlen and the surrounding companies and parties. At the moment a number of startups are in a pilot, the intention is to start the final program after the turn of the year. Peter Verkoulen, CEO of the campus in Heerlen: “The intention is that the HIVE program will be fully developed in early 2019, resulting in a successful concept that will lay the foundation for startup development and further growth in the coming years. There is already a broad curiosity and interest in the HIVE philosophy. We talk intensively with a number of possible strategic partners for the implementation of the various phases of the HIVE program and with the investors and networks of partners behind them.”

Brightlands Smart Services is not setting up this programme on its own, together with the province of Limburg, among others, it wants to help digital startups to flourish. Joost van den Akker, Commissioner of the Province of Limburg, is pleased with the programme: “High-tech innovation, and certainly data processing, is one of the economic pillars of the future. Supporting promising start-ups well, not only financially, but also with experienced employees and young talents, that’s what it’s all about. In this way, the development capacity of start-ups is supported to the maximum. With this, we hope to attract and retain talent to the region.”

Jeroen Kraak of Connect Holland, who also participates in the development of the startup accelerator, sees this as a logical step: “Within two years Heerlen will become the European capital of artificial intelligence and blockchain with the campus as its epic centre. In the coming years, this will lead to many startups starting new companies in the region. Here all knowledge, skill and output-driven energy comes together and that strengthens each other. The last few months I have spoken with many digital talents, who don’t want to leave the region because of this or who want to come here because we do such great innovative things.”

Brightlands HIVE also works together with the municipality of Heerlen, Mercurius Investments, Rabobank Parkstad and LIOF, amongst others. More possible partners are currently being discussed. The foundation for startup development within the four campuses in Limburg has been established in recent years by Brigtlands Innovation Factory. The new program is a further development of this.