“We are proud of our High Tech Campus, the Science Park at TU/e, the Automotive Campus in Helmond and Strijp-S as a rough diamond. But there can be more to it.” The most important lesson that Mayor Van Gijzel and Councillor Depla learned during the first few days of their visit to Canada was that established entrepreneurs need to provide even more support to young entrepreneurs. “We’re appealing to all the seasoned entrepreneurs at ASML, NXP, VDL, NTS Groep and all the other essential and successful companies in our region to help the young rising talent!”
Van Gijzel and Depla are currently in Waterloo, about 50 kilometres west of Toronto, and are joined by a delegation from the Brainport region. Van Gijzel explains the reason for his visit in a blog post for Brainport Development: “Why does Waterloo seem so much like our own region? There is also close cooperation between the government, businesses and knowledge institutes. And the region has a reputation in the field of automotive and high-tech systems. Culturally it is also much like the network that exists in and around Eindhoven. But above all, there is the similarity that everything here revolves around technology, just like in Eindhoven.”
The economy in Waterloo was also driven by one of the major electronics giants: Blackberry. “Just like we have Philips. And just like Philips, Blackberry went through a difficult time and many promising companies emerged from it. Just like Philips has multiplied into ASML, NXP, FEI and Shapeways, the fruits of Blackberry also resurrected the Waterloo region.”
But there is also a big difference, notes Staf Dapla, after a day of talking with companies and businesses that want to take the leap to Europe – maybe even Eindhoven. Van Gijzel: “And that’s the evidence of established entrepreneurs rolling up their sleeves to help their young colleagues who are just starting out. Do you have a good idea and the technical skills to carry it out, but don’t know how to approach getting financed? An experienced entrepreneur in Waterloo shows the beginner the way, and keeps showing him the way, just because it feels right, because it sounds right, because it also works.”
That could also work well in Eindhoven, according to Van Gijzel. “It’s good for our region, for our leading economic position, to have successors, new colleagues. It’s something to talk about once we get home.”
ASML CEO Peter Winnink already suggested a similar duty. In order for young companies to gain credibility (and subsequently, investments), they need the support of experienced colleagues in the Brainport region. Wennink suggested the establishment of an advisory board of specialists in the region, from academics to entrepreneurs. After a positive assessment of a start-up, an advisory board like this could then take all the necessary actions to crack the credibility problem.
Main photo: Rob van Gijzel meets Dutch nationals during his visit to Waterloo, Canada. (c) Thijs van Son, City of Eindhoven
Additional photo: (c) Brainport Development