Around the giants of the Eindhoven tech scene – Philips, ASML, NXP – are hundreds of smaller fledgling companies, honing their ideas, and hoping to be the next big household name in high tech innovation. But what does it take to turn an idea into a success story?
For nearly two decades, TWICE has been offering a home for such companies across the city of Eindhoven, providing them with the means of achieving success. A collaboration between various shareholders in the region (Brabants Ontwikkelings Maatschappij; the municipality of Eindhoven; TU/e; Brainport Development; Rabobank Eindhoven-Veldhoven), TWICE is focused on supporting the city’s reputation as a hotspot for scale-up development.
The idea, as TWICE director Jean-Paul van Oijen explains, is to give companies a place where they can grow and reach their maximum potential. “Basically our goal is to help young growing tech companies in this region to be successful. This region is really focused on high tech. There are lots of companies that start at the university, through Philips, or even at home. Some ideas might even come out of PhD theses.”
“Most of these are companies who are going to the market who are finding their first investment. They need a place where they have their own office space, and/or lab facilities including ICT at a very high level. A tech hotspot where they can meet other companies, advisors and investors. And also be attractive to new employees”.
Originally, Van Oijen says, the national idea was to have twin startup accelerator buildings, one in Eindhoven and one in Amsterdam – both totally IT connected. Hence the name ‘TWICE’. This idea fell away however, NV Rede (today Brainport Development) saw the value in having a family of varied thematic accelerator hubs in one city. Today the result is four housing formulas at two locations across Eindhoven – Twinning and Catalyst at the TU/e; and Mµ and Bèta at the High Tech Campus.
“Each building has its own thematic housing formula,” Van Oijen explains. “Twinning is built for IT: app development, data security, embedded software etc. They need a place with a good and stable internet connection, with server spaces and backup power systems. Catalyst is more focused on chemical and biochemical ideas. Bèta is focused on R&D, and Mµ is for new energy solutions and life-tech”.
TWICE wants to give space to companies that fit with these four formulas. “I think this makes the difference between us and a commercial real estate company. We are not focused on profit. We are focused on helping growing tech companies”. As well as providing a boost for scale-ups and spin-offs in need of a suitable base of operations, Van Oijen sees the role of TWICE as helping the Brainport region improve its competitiveness overall.
Primarily, it is about making sure ideas originating in Brainport Eindhoven stay in Brainport Eindhoven: “If we provide the correct facilities, it is more likely that they settle, grow and stay in the region. Otherwise, they might leave and never come back.”
“We want to see them make the next step. We offer them our expertise, our network, and specific business solutions.”
One of the early investors – in fact, they were there right from TWICE’s start – is Rabobank Eindhoven/Veldhoven. Michel Ziekman, who has been involved as the Community Banker since 2007, thinks the most important thing is to help the scale-ups grow in this region. “We want to see them make the next step. We offer them our expertise, our network, and specific business solutions. It’s not about profit maximization, but about together finding the most valuable connections that help them grow. For example, most of these scale-ups don’t have a complete picture of the possibilities around finding investors. We do.”
Rabobank has built a special service, Teckle, in order to get a better focus. “From Teckle, we help startups and scale-ups go forward with matters for which they do not have the knowledge, people or resources in-house. Think of legal, fiscal and, of course, many financial issues. In addition, we try to create focus in their business development. This is usually not easy, which is why we offer entrepreneurs master classes or personal conversations.”
For Van Oijen, this is the best way to get his mission accomplished. “Just like our four other investors, Rabobank Eindhoven-Veldhoven is helping make Eindhoven the hotspot for high tech scale-ups.”