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Tomorrow is good.

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 07.51.59In a weekly column, alternately written by Lucien Engelen, Maarten Steinbuch, Carlo van de Weijer and Daan Kersten, E52 tries to find out what the future will look like. All four contributors are – in addition to their ‘normal’ groundbreaking work – linked to SingularityU The Netherlands, the organization that focuses on spreading knowledge about technologies that can provide solutions to the problems of our time. This Sunday, it’s Daan Kersten‘s turn.

By Daan Kersten

SU Daan Kersten

First of all, I too would like to wish you, as a reader of this column, a wonderful new year. If it were up to me I would like to wish a GREAT new year, a BIG one in capitals. Big in all conceivable areas: a big health, big love, big challenges, big ambitions. I am by nature not averse to a bit of big thinking, but this week I had some conversations that made me think even bigger.

The second week of January is traditionally the time of the New Year’s receptions where plans are delivered by managers and governmental directors. In the Eindhoven Evoluon and the Brabant province house the words seemed to come unanimously from the mouths of Mayor Jorritsma and Commissioner of the King Wim van de Donk: ‘Size does matter‘. Agreed, but let’s start making plans to carry out these words. Let’s step outside our comfort zone, look beyond organizational walls and field boundaries. Let’s take ten to twenty years to look forward instead of three to five. We opt for other solutions, sustainable, groundbreaking, inspiring and more distinctive than ever.

Just two examples from this week, small and large. The successful entrepreneur I spoke had seen his business leveling off last year, after years of admirable growth. He wondered aloud if he should not just be satisfied with that. No! Take a big decision and shift your direction or even take a big step into a new market or region. The other example: a regional specialist who wondered whether the logistical infrastructure in the Brainport Industries Campus (BIC) will be innovative enough. Indeed, why not think and look bigger, and involve the exit routes from the campus, look integrally to the flow of goods and also involve the Goods Distribution Centre in Acht. Instead of a local train station in Acht, a hyperloop or a levitation train to Eindhoven CS and the other campuses would probably be just as expensive but much more future proof and faster as well.

Turn BIC into a logistical experiment with self-propelled trolleys and drones, developed together with Vanderlande. The ideas have already come around on E52 in the form of a subway for Eindhoven and the Suyzer.

Do it together in order to make it BIG.

Bigger thinking does require larger budgets, which traditionally are mostly just based on experience from the past. Therefore it is essential that not only the planners think bigger but also the financiers. There is enough money, especially with the current low interest rates, but we are still very risk averse. The government could cover these risks when the promising innovations provoke new business. Because a new solution can’t work just in Eindhoven, a contest should be written, to help build a demonstrator. Let other cities co-invest, in exchange for a discount on the solution when it is implemented in their city. Do it together in order to make it BIG.

As usual, we presented our company’s business plan for this year on the first working day in the year. Again, we want to make a big step forward, for example by setting up an office in the US, so we can start to cover the biggest market in our field. We continue to think big. Do you care to join us? Remember, bigger is better! Tomorrow already.