Gerard & Anton Awards
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Why we write about this topic:

Many of the innovations that move our society forward have come from start-ups. So whoever increases the success rate of start-ups (now averaging about 25 percent) has gold in their hands. Brainport Eindhoven seems to be getting close to that.

The above-average success of start-ups from the Brainport Eindhoven region can be directly linked to the specific characteristics and conditions within the region. The high degree of mutual cooperation and the presence of talent and knowledge stand out the most. This becomes evident from research among the 70 former winners of a Gerard & Anton Award, presented annually, since 2014, to ten promising start-ups from the Brainport Eindhoven region. 

Download the complete report here (in Dutch):

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The main distinguishing factors of Brainport are, according to the start-ups surveyed: 

  • availability of talent and knowledge
  • cooperation across the ecosystem (vertical and horizontal)
  • availability of suitable work locations (including labs)
  • the focus on solving major societal problems (impact-driven)
  • the accessibility of knowledge institutions and technical support

The study also reveals that the benefits of Brainport have the greatest impact in the early years of a start-up. As the start-up grows, the bottlenecks also become more prominent. These include housing, access to money, bureaucracy, low diversity, and customer relations with corporates.

Exceptional ecosystem

The study shows that the region of birth of those start-ups has an exceptional start-up ecosystem. “We began this research by asking what factors determined the remarkably high success rate of start-ups in Brainport Eindhoven,” explains senior analyst Christian Janssen (Strategy Unit). “According to the companies we surveyed, the cause can mainly be sought in factors that distinguish this region from others. In part, those factors are linked to a tradition of long-term cooperation which has produced a close-knit social network with low replicability.”

Brainport Eindhoven focuses on (deep)tech and the manufacturing industry. Janssen: “Yet, other ecosystems would also do well to further strengthen the specific elements that cause Brainport start-ups to achieve higher success rates.” According to the initiators, the results can not only be used as proof of Brainport’s success, but also other regions can benefit from them. Janssen expects that the study will be followed up elsewhere, partly in light of recent studies by Dealroom and Techleap.

The 70 growth companies that won a Gerard & Anton Award in the 2014-2020 period collectively created 3,300 full-time jobs and raised at least 2 billion euros in funding, according to their own data. Most of these start-ups have now reached the stage of scale-up. Of the seventy companies surveyed, 59 demonstrably generated revenue from their products or services. That’s 84% of the total. 52 of the 59 growth companies have managed to sustain that to date. With that, some 75% can be called long-term successful.

What is a start-up?

A start-up is a company or organization in the early stages of business and often tries to develop a unique product or service to grow and establish itself as a successful business. Start-ups are typically small and lean, with a small team of founders or employees who are working to develop and bring a new product or service to market. They are often focused on innovation and agility and are willing to take risks to achieve their goals. Many start-ups are funded through venture capital or angel investors and may also be supported by incubators or accelerators that provide resources and mentorship to help them grow.

What is a scale-up?

A scale-up is a company that has already achieved some success and is now focusing on growing and expanding its operations. A scale-up is typically a start-up that has passed the early stages of development and is now looking to increase its market share, revenue, and profitability. This may involve introducing new products or services, entering new markets, or expanding into new locations.
Scale-ups differ from traditional companies in that they tend to be more agile and innovative and are often willing to take risks in order to achieve their goals. They may also be more focused on growth and scalability and may have a more flexible business model that allows them to adapt to changes in the market.
To scale up successfully, a company typically needs a solid foundation, including a clear vision, a strong leadership team, a proven business model, and a robust infrastructure that can support growth. It may also need to secure additional funding or resources to achieve its expansion plans.

How does the Brainport Eindhoven region support start-ups?

There are several ways in which the Brainport Eindhoven region supports startups. Some of them ways include:
– Funding: Several funding programs and investment opportunities are available to startups in the Brainport Eindhoven region. These include government grants, venture capital, and angel investment.
– Incubators and accelerators: The region is home to a number of incubators and accelerators that provide resources and support to help startups grow and succeed. These organizations often offer coaching, mentorship, workspace, and access to networks of potential customers and partners.
– Research institutions: The region is home to quite a few research institutions, including TU Eindhoven, TNO, imec, and Holst Centre, that provide research facilities and expertise to support the development of new technologies and ideas.
– Networking and collaboration: There are many opportunities for regional start-ups to network and collaborate with other businesses and organizations. This includes events, meetups, hackathons, and more formal partnerships and collaborations.

“The strength of Brainport Eindhoven”

Brainport Development director Paul van Nunen sees in the results “new evidence of the unparalleled strength of this ecosystem. It is great to see that the start-ups themselves link exactly those distinctive elements that we have been cherishing and constantly developing for years to their own success. This means not only that we occupy a special position but also that the choice of that position is effective. There’s a good reason for calling Brainport the ‘home of pioneers’.”

City of Eindhoven Alderman Stijn Steenbakkers (Brainport and Economic Affairs): “This research proves the strength of Brainport Eindhoven. Cooperation is key, and we are producing new world players. The many start-ups in our city and region provide more jobs, more than 2 billion in investments, and important solutions for societal challenges in sustainability and health. We remain committed to startups in the coming years, and I look forward to working with new gems in our ecosystem.”

Jeroen van Woerden, director of startup organization The Gate: “It is great to see that the distinctive factors of this region are already widely recognized. This report underlines that, among other recently published reports. The Gate aims to increase the success rate of start-ups in this region. In addition to celebrating successes, we also look at what can be improved in the future.”

70 former Gerard & Anton winners (2014-2020)