voetbalrobots Tech United, © Bart van Overbeeke
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It has just been the shortest day, 21 December. A perfect moment for some reflection and a short review. We installed no less than 64 solar panels in our garden, with an expected yield of 20,000 kWh per year. The first weeks I looked at my app a couple of times every day to see what the yield is, but now the weather is too grey. The heat pump has already been working at our home for about two months now. We also have a new electric car, complete with autopilot and a 500 km range. This year it became clear that battery electric driving is really going to break through. Cool.

I have enjoyed the success of Lex and Tessie and the others of Lightyear, the growth of Amber, the restart of Avular with a.o. our son. Our team at the TU/e is – again – world champion football with robots, and the High Tech Systems Center further strengthened its place within the university (thanks to Katja and the team!). We have approval to really start with the Eindhoven Engine, thanks to Clement! This year I also decided to further develop entrepreneurship in me after almost 20 years in university. My letter of part-time-resignation at TU/Eindhoven is out, and the company Eindhoven Medical Robotics was founded, together with business partner Anupam Nayak. Among other things, she teaches me what industrialisation means and especially how important it is to think from the customer’s perspective and to involve them from the start. Together with Radboudumc and other clinical partners, we allow ourselves to be guided and influenced. Because we know that with our possibilities from the region, we are really able to make a new industry for surgical robots a reality and that we can do that with a high implementation speed. As long as you have a good mix of young and experienced people.

“Whether it’s smart high tech for medical robots or short and long-term energy storage: we have the knowledge, but how do we translate this into social impact, how do we valorise it?”

I learned a lot this year. Negotiating, dealing with uncertainty, setting tasks, WBSO, lock-up, bad/good leaver, subsidies, these are just a few words that come to mind. Of great importance for a starting entrepreneur. The drive I feel in me to move forward, to make speed, to have an impact, I also feel this in the Eindhoven Engine. I think that our region is ready for this new initiative: co-location, exponential innovation, cooperation. We need this because the speed of technology cannot be slowed down; on the contrary. Entrepreneurship within knowledge institutions is a challenge, but necessary. There still are enough hidden gems on the shelf in knowledge institutions such as the universities, TNO and DIFFER, but who comes by to pick them up? Whether it’s smart high tech for medical robots or short and long-term energy storage: we have the knowledge, but how do we translate this into social impact, how do we valorise it?

These are the questions I want to work on in 2019, in Eindhoven Medical Robotics and in the Eindhoven Engine. As far as I’m concerned, they are both winners, but we need each other! I’m already looking forward to the longest day of the year! Happy Christmas and a healthy 2019!

About this column:

In a weekly column, alternately written by Maarten Steinbuch, Mary Fiers, Carlo van de Weijer, Lucien Engelen, Tessie Hartjes and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. The six columnists, occasionally supplemented with guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions to the problems of our time. So that tomorrow will be good. Here are all previous episodes.

Photo Bart van Overbeeke