This brand new organization in the Dutch Brainport region helps young entrepreneurs who have a good idea to set up and develop their business. But aren’t there already initiatives like this? Yes, that is true. “The Gate will act as a connector of these initiatives in order to be able to help entrepreneurs even better and more effectively. It functions as a contact point for startups. We want to use this to increase the success rate of start-ups,” says Jeroen van Woerden, manager of The Gate.
It is an initiative by five parties from the region: Brainport Development, Brabantse Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij, Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Summa College and the University of Technology Eindhoven (TU/e). These parties already have business developers of their own. Moreover, there are more incubators and accelerators in the region, for example at the High Tech Campus. “But we achieve more when we work together,” says van Woerden. “We’re going to make this train that’s already running a whole lot faster and nicer so that it can function with even more of an impact.” The parties involved signed an agreement today in the presence of John Jorritsma, the mayor of Eindhoven.
More effective network
He goes on, “People who have a good idea probably know a lot about a particular subject. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you also need to have some knowledge about other fields, such as marketing and financial matters. We can help with that.” This might involve for example expertise on how to draw up a business plan or financial questions. Via The Gate, entrepreneurs are linked to the right people who can help them further. The large network of Brainport can be utilized more effectively this way.
Collaboration is already seen as one of the most important strengths in the Brainport region. “This is also true for us at The Gate,” Van Woerden states. “We don’t want to do what other initiatives are already doing, we want to look for connections so that we can all become stronger. Although of course, first and foremost it’s about the start-ups.”
Start-ups can turn to The Gate for coaching and valuable contacts. In addition, the organization supports start-ups in a very early phase by arranging funding, for example through the Brabants Startup Fonds and the Metropool Regio Eindhoven. This could be funding for a proof of concept or pre-seed funding.
Educators are important
It is worth noting that all three major educational institutions in the region are involved. “A large part of the start-up entrepreneurs are young people who want to start a business after finishing their education. They often come up with a good idea during their studies,” says Van Woerden. “The great thing about these young people, is that they are full of ideals and are willing to take risks.” This makes educators important in the overall scheme of things. Van Woerden emphasizes that other entrepreneurs are also welcome at The Gate.
The Gate is located on the TU/e campus, so entrepreneurs from the region can literally walk through the door with a question or if they want to work together on a project. But the project is first going to start digitally because of the corona crisis. The Gate team members are already ready and willing to help entrepreneurs. It is a diverse team made up of people from the parties involved across the board.
The emergence of more successful start-ups in the region is very important for the ecosystem and the economy. “These young entrepreneurs represent new life in the region,” he says. “Large companies often have a network of smaller companies and start-ups surrounding them. These are critical to the innovative power of the large companies. Start-ups bring new ideas and decisiveness.” In addition, Van Woerden hopes that some of these start-ups will grow into new industries in the region – the ASMLs of the future. “But that’s not for everyone, not all companies will make it. A constant influx of new start-ups is really important for that reason.”
Van Woerden enjoys being able to offer guidance to The Gate. “I like it when people grow. Obviously, it’s really about the entrepreneurs we help, but also about The Gate’s employees. This is how we create a chain of growth as well as fun.” He has been working in the innovation world for some time, for example as a quartermaster for the Fieldlab Industrial Electrification in Rotterdam.
“Everything is big in Rotterdam. We are talking about huge processes and systems, for example in chemistry and logistics to do with the port there. Now I’ll get to work in the nano industry.” This is something completely different, but in his opinion, these two industries and regions complement each other well. “Sensors used in the measurement of processes in Rotterdam are in part made in Eindhoven.”
According to Van Woerden, collaboration is important not only within the region but also within the Netherlands. “Our country is too small to be competitive with each other. Then it’s better that we work together. There is also a global competition going on. If a company doesn’t take off in the Netherlands, it will in another country. Without any enterprise there is also less economic growth and employment.” He therefore finds it important that The Gate, regardless of its focus on the Brainport region, is constantly open to new impulses from other areas and disciplines.
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