At the International Festival at the Vestdijk in Eindhoven, a selection of expats were honoured with a place in the expat top 10 (which features eleven people actually). The top 10 came to be as a collaboration between High Tech Campus, Brainport Development, ASML, TU/e,Rabobank Eindhoven-Veldhoven, Ehv365, the Holland Expat Center and E52. The name were selected by a jury, with Alderman Staf Depla at its helm.  E52 sat down with Depla to ask him about the place of expats in Eindhovens DNA.

Here’s the top-10:

According to the Alderman it all started with Philips. Were founders Gerard and Frederik Philips came from Zaltbommel to Eindhoven and over time attracted employees from other provinces and neighbouring countries.

“But the world has grown. The expats then came from Belgium,  now they come from India, the US and Germany, far and near.”

Why do we need an expat top 10?
“Since the starting days of Philips, Eindhoven has grown to become an international ciry. We think the city as it is now, is a product of different views and perspectives from expats and people living here, it’s a mix. We see that at TU/e, but also with ASML and the High Tech Campus.”

“We wanted to make a selection of people that have contributed to the city in the areas of Tech, knowledge and design. This could be through academics, or via industry, but also in design or just bringing people together. Eventually, this turned out to be eleven people. During the International Festival we want do turn the spotlight to these people and aiming the focus to all the expats of the city.”

“We wanted a diverse group. There are men and women on the list, from Europe, Asia and America. There are expats that are somehwere in their twenties, and all the way up to a 81-year old Professor who came to Eindhoven in 1971 and never left. But there’s also someone like Jing Li , who is doing very serious work at ASML on the one hand but also was a contestant on Everybody Dance Now. These are people with great stories.”

Is the group of expats in Eindhoven a growing one?
“Last year, about 6000 expat came to Eindhoven, 4000 of them left and 2000 stayed. That’s quite a lot for a city like Eindhoven. We mostly owe this to the industry and the university. They actively recruit foreign talent. Me as an Alderman and us a government mostly have a guiding task in this, we facillitate the neccesary.”

“It’s the job offer or the possibillity to study here that gets the expat to Eindhoven. After that, it’s up to us to make sure the new Eindhovenaar is happy here, and that it’s a place they want to settle down in. International education has to be good and they should be able to develop while they are here. We try to provide in that.”

How?
“We support the expatcenter, where expats can take care of their paperwork all at once. We also work with Living In coordinators, who work at place where there are a lot of expats like High Tech Campus and TU/e. They keep in touch with the community and keep us updated on what could be improved.”

“That spawns initiatives like the international healthcenter that has been opened up in Strijp in June. This caters exvlusevely to healthcare for the international. The Dutch natives genuinely are satisfied with our healthcare, with expats the approval rate is much lower. This is a step in making sure they are comfortable with the way we provide healthcare. But it could also be in a simple fashion like stimulating the use of menu cards in English, or an English show in a theatre.”

What the use of having expats in a city?
“They improve the city, pure and simple. They carry knowledge over from other countries and foreign institutes and in turn they attract other companies. The willingness people have to settle for Eindhoven is a big criterium for companies to set up here as well. Which in the end, brings more jobs to the city.”

“The university wants the best for their research, hightech companies want the same. Those people just aren’t exclusevely born in Eindhoven, but have to be brought in from all over the world. Expats match the areas Eindhoven finds important: Tech, knowledge and design.”

Did you have a hard time in selecting the people?
“It felt like an honorary role to me. We had a list of fifty nominated people and settled on the final top 10 in an hour. So no, it wasn’t that difficult to do. Although picking just one what be much harder, I’m glad we could pick ten.”

Turns out, picking ten people isn’t that easy either. Eventually, eleven people made the Expat Top 10. Starting tomorrow, each day an interview with one of the winners will be published.