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We are celebrating the tenth edition of the Gerard & Anton Awards, and because ten winners took the stage at each installment, we are highlighting the hundredth winner this year. Not all one hundred are equally successful – indeed, some former winners have since lost their lives – but they have brought about something extraordinary one by one. And compared to the average startup, our former winners are doing exceptionally well.

Long before the term impact startup became hip, our jury ensured that this award only honors startups that solve an urgent social problem. Better health, more innovative mobility, sustainable living, and clean energy: the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals repeatedly appear in the winner lists. A G&A winner knows what it takes to create a world appealing to future generations.

How it began

In the spring of 2014, Bert-Jan Woertman was cycling back from a meeting on improving Eindhoven’s startup climate. As he wriggled through traffic on the Emmasingel, he became increasingly angry. Because he knew – despite the good intentions of the participants – nothing would come of all the expressed intentions again. “You know the drill: during the meeting, everyone is full of fire, but as soon as it’s finished, everyone returns to business as usual. Very frustrating.”

Woertman, at the time marketing manager of the High Tech Campus, was already involved daily in “organizing chance meetings” and didn’t know how to handle his frustration. “Coincidence or not, right when I got home, I saw a post about some event in New York called ‘Startups to Watch.’ I read about how they were hoisting promising startups onto a stage there and immediately thought: How complicated could it be to do the same here?”

The rest is history, as they say. Together with Hans Matheeuwsen of the magazine FRITS, the first edition was launched and that same year the first ten winners emerged. FRITS published the stories behind the startups, and the concept was born. What was not clear then – but is all the more so now – is that the successes from that first year (of the ten winners from 2014, only one has gone bankrupt to date, an unprecedentedly high success rate in startup land) would not be an exception. In the years that followed, too, the Eindhoven startups to watch proved to flout all the laws of modern investors. Whereas normally at most two to three out of ten startups survive longer than a few years, in this group the figure is more like eight out of ten.

Award ceremony

Only one aspect was added to the concept after that first year: a festive ceremony, complete with real awards. Otherwise, the idea is as simple and effective as ever. A month before the ceremony, the local community is invited to nominate candidates, and a – rather informal – jury process takes place, after which the invitations go out for the awards party. On that evening, the chosen ones take the stage one by one, after which everyone mingles with those involved in the local startup ecosystem over beer and appetizers.

“Little may have changed externally, but organizing it is still super important,” Woertman says. “No matter how young or small, many startups are doing something special. But if the world doesn’t know them, they remain invisible. So you have to put them on a stage and give them recognition! Moreover, this way, other potential entrepreneurs – of which students are an important group – see that it can be done.”


Because the initiators noticed the success of former G&A award winners, the Innovation Origins and Strategy Unit conducted extensive research on them in 2022. What turned out? Their above-average success can be directly linked to the characteristics and conditions within the Brainport region. The high degree of cooperation and the presence of talent and knowledge stand out the most. The study also reveals that these advantages have the most significant impact in a startup’s early years. As it grows, the bottlenecks become more prominent. These include housing, access to money, bureaucracy, low diversity, and customer relationships with established large companies.


Over the years, new activities have been added to the competition. There was a winter event, the G&A High Tech Peak Awards. We hosted a Founders Dinner at the Philips Stadium and paired the monthly Drinks, Pitches & Demos with Gerard & Anton. And, not unimportantly, we rigged a digital network around the G&A community. With its own website, WhatsApp groups, and various social channels, we can now rightly speak of a community. A host of companies that value innovation support this community as sponsors.

The popularity of the Gerard & Anton community could never have soared if Innovation Origins had not consistently provided support for it. Not only around the official award ceremonies but throughout the year, former winners get the publicity that helps them further on their path to success. A decent portfolio of each winner is now available, so historians also have every opportunity to find out where that success came from. In addition, IO also provides the platform for the community itself, including daily updates.

In our latest magazine – IO Next: Gerard & Anton Awards – you read about the 10 winners of the 10th edition of our own Awards Show. We look back at the 90 winners before them and look ahead to the impact these 100 winners together are making on the world.

Homage to the creator

Back to Woertman, the constant factor in the series of G&A Award shows. While in their first years, he did the awards with Merien ten Houten; since COVID-19, Beatrix Bos (in daily life project manager and impact creator at former G&A winner Carbyon) has been his regular partner on stage. Beatrix is also very involved in the organization of G&A events.

And she is not the only one. Woertmann: “Without collaboration, there would be no Eindhoven startups and no Gerard & Anton Awards.” But, with someone to crank it all up, things happen. And so among that entire ecosystem, including the hundred winners, there was a lot of enthusiasm about putting the creator Bert-Jan Woertmann of the Awards in the spotlight for once. So, we want to honor the man who planted the first seed of the G&A Community in 2014 and, after ten years, is still working on further growing the community with equal enthusiasm.

The Gerard & Anton Awards are supported by EY, Rabobank, V.O. Patents & Trademarks, TWICE, Kadans Science Partner, Braventure, Lumo Labs, Gemeente Eindhoven, High Tech Campus, Philips, Goevaers & Znn. B.V. and DeepTechXL.