Summer holidays are over. Time to get busy building the next stage of the booming start-up ecosystem in the South-East corner of StartupDelta. Bert-Jan Woertman is director of marketing and communications at the High Tech Campus. Here’s his insider’s guide to what the Campus is up to and why.
Just over a year ago, this place was one of only two European research centres described as an “Innovation District” in a ground breaking study by Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner of the Brookings Institute. In short, the US researchers detected a trend.
“Rather than building on green-field sites, companies in knowledge-intensive sectors are locating key facilities close to other firms, research labs, and universities so that they can share ideas and practice open innovation. These districts are geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators.”
That’s a concise description of exactly what’s going on now in Eindhoven. TechCrunch also recently called it the “centre of deep-tech entrepreneurship”. I like that phrase.
From talk to action
Innovation is not something you can order from a menu or invent with a factory mindset. Our full support of initiatives like Startupbootcamp HighTechXL is a deliberate part of our growth strategy here at the Campus. Startups are realizing they cannot scale if they stay in the garage and tweak something. They need to mingle with other entrepreneurs and have efficient access to everything from legal advice to sophisticated lab equipment. And if they grow, we grow, so it’s win-win for everyone.
Since we have started with Startupbootcamp HighTechXL, we’ve learned never to underestimate the power of peer-to-peer contact between startups and corporates. Great things happen a lot faster once trust is established. Informal networks are crucial to getting things done.
Of course, the magic is amplified because of the more than 10,000 very bright people who are busy here. Many are developing technologies that are already impacting our world. They form part of a unique and vibrant ecosystem of established global brands, leading research institutes, fast growth enterprises, high-tech startups and service companies. And if each of those people knows just 100 people, just think of the power that international network of expertise brings to the Eindhoven region.
On the right path
Of course, we need to continually show others that this open approach works. Luckily, independent evidence is beginning to emerge. I recommend reading the recent findings on collaborative innovation from the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Their new report draws on more than 80 interviews, and includes findings from several CEOs of large multinationals and start-ups. The author, Lilia Planiyan, states that corporates and startups need to cooperate much more for Europe to improve its competitiveness. We have clearly made a start. But so much more needs to be done.
Building a Turbo Accelerator
There is increasing demand from young high-tech companies to be part of our ecosystem beyond the early startup-phase. On the journey to becoming a scale-up, the founders need access to different skillsets. That could mean research and testing facilities while building the prototype. Later, supply chain expertise is needed when it’s time to scale up to full production. There are often changes in the teams, as founders hand over to operational leaders as marketing and sales personnel join the company. And later-stage scale-ups like Smart Robotics have discovered that moving from a research environment to a business creation cluster has been key for their acceleration to market.
On the Campus, good cooperation between multinationals and high-tech startups has become part of our DNA. This is because Philips Research decided in 2003 that it could not invent in splendid isolation, it tore down the park gates and attracted dozens of technology companies like NXP and Intel, to build a unique trusted ecosystem.
This informal culture of trust takes years to build. It’s priceless. And it’s always listening, in an effort to continually improve itself.
Staying makes sense
Several of today’s successful new companies, like Medtronic, NXP, Civolution, Intrinsic-ID or Genkey were founded by former Philips employees. They took the entrepreneurial route and spun out their technology from the mother corporation. And even though many of these spin-outs make most of their revenue in the Americas, Asia or Africa, they maintain a base on our campus. Because in order to profit from the benefits of an ecosystem, you need to be in it!
Being part of that trusted community means people are often willing to open up their network to others. Creating value together and sharing resources makes sound business sense for everyone. The more specific the request, the more likely somebody will connect you to a contact which, for instance, could help act as a springboard to the Korean market.
So, in many respects, the whole Campus has become one giant turbo accelerator. Some big announcements are coming this autumn to make it even better. If you want to be the first to know what we’re up to, now is the time to sign-up for the free Campus Newsletter. Just send an email to [email protected] with the subject NEWSLETTER and you will receive the next issue in your inbox.