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Tomorrow, Wednesday 3 July, we celebrate the tenth edition of the Gerard & Anton Awards and the 100th winner of such an award. Winning a Gerard & Anton Award doesn’t come out of the blue. The success of a startup doesn’t start with winning this prize. In fact, all 100 winners have reached the stage of our award show thanks to the support of the local Brainport ecosystem. 

They didn’t just receive advice; they were part of a collaborative effort. Design bureaus, accounting firms, patent offices, and financial institutes all played a role. The startup founders had meaningful discussions with growth experts from organizations like The Gate, HighTechXL, Braventure, BOM, or one of the campuses. They found office space, a lab, or a cleanroom thanks to the efforts at Twice or Kadans. They were guided by experts at Brainport Development, the knowledge institutes, and the municipality. And they were supported with loans, funding, and subsidies from investors, banks, and local funds. It’s a community effort that makes a difference.


If you only look at what Metropoolregio Eindhoven (MRE) did to help our startups grow, it’s hard to underestimate its impact. With the incentive fund (Stimuleringsfonds) alone, MRE has helped at least 38 of our 100 winners with up to 50,000 euros each. This number may even be higher because, in addition to direct funding, MRE also helps the startups that have been active as partners of recipients. 

MRE’s process manager Bas Luijten often spots his ‘babies’ in news articles after winning an award or sharing highlights about a new product or funding round. “When we hear that a project has won an award or has secured follow-up financing, our flag goes up. With a contribution from our fund, we helped the winners get on their way. That’s what we do it for!”

The fund is all about giving good ideas a push in the back and thus strengthening the region’s economy. Luijten: “For many years, we have been stimulating innovation, cooperation, and the economic structure of Southeast Brabant. Our goal is not short-term returns but long-term effects. In the field of innovations, employment, sustainable developments, competitive positions, and the business climate, you name it. We fan the flames, others contribute, and together we turn a promising idea into a success story.” The fund exists thanks to the contributions of all 21 municipalities.

Gerard & Anton Award winners: TU/e spinouts and HightechXL alumni are the main source of startups, but others play a role.
Gerard & Anton Award winners: TU/e spinouts and HightechXL alumni are the primary source of startups, but others play a role.

At Brainport Development, business developers can guide founders in their early-stage funding, often in collaboration with other regional stakeholders. That’s how the Brainport financing table, the Brainport Equity Table, and the Brainport CEO Table could be launched. Many hundreds of starting entrepreneurs have already benefited from these initiatives. Piet van de Wielen, program manager at Brainport Development: “It is about the willingness of the entire Brainport region. Everybody is prepared to help and support; that’s the true beauty of this region. Big or small, it doesn’t matter, they are all involved.”

BOM and The Gate

Another example of strong support can be found at the Brabant Development Agency (BOM). Miriam Dragstra: “Venture building is important to us. We developed a coaching methodology for startups in Brabant, which has since been rolled out nationwide. Based on a scan of the company’s current situation, we determine the life stage, and then deploy tools and programs tailored to this life stage.” Once a startup is on board, it can also get advice on follow-up steps, such as finding new or additional financiers. “We usually step in at a fairly early stage, but we obviously know the investment landscape very well for the later stages as well. As a company develops, our contribution decreases. At some point, we will sell our stake and reinvest that money in promising new companies.”

Gerard & Anton Award winners: By looking into previous working experience of founders, Philips is unchallenged as a source of founders.
Gerard & Anton Award winners: By looking into the previous working experience of founders, Philips is unchallenged as a source of founders.

The Gate, with its team of business developers and experts offering advice to starting entrepreneurs, has a strong tradition of supporting the valorization processes of student teams but also looks further than that. Jeroen van Woerden: “The Gate is a collaborative organization for startups enabling successful growth in the Brainport Eindhoven region. Our goal is to ensure that these startups get an excellent launch of their business, create an effective business plan, and, from there, have the best execution possible so that they can grow into healthy scaleups. That means that we support them with our team to ultimately grow into full-fledged companies with a positive impact on society.”


It’s all about standing on the shoulders of giants. The Brainport region knows, from experience and character, how to integrate all stakeholders within its operating systems. The collaborative effort is the real foundation of the ecosystem. That makes a Gerard & Anton Award not only a success for each of the 100 winners but also living proof of the impact of the ecosystem they are part of. 

De 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.