“High tech Bayern!” it sounds through the meeting room when the screen comes up again. The presentation appears on the screen again thanks to a ‘German’ dongle from one of the visitors. Problem solved. A Bavarian business delegation visits Holland to strengthen the contact and to work more closely with Dutch companies. From Rotterdam to Eindhoven and Tilburg. From Utrecht to Amsterdam. During their visit to the Brainport Industries Campus, the German delegation heard all about the BIC’s ideas and was given a tour of the complex.

“Dutch research shows that 77% of innovative success consists of social innovation and only 23% is technological development, which is why the social aspect here at BIC is so important“, explains Bert-Jan Woertman, director of the campus. After his explanation, Ansgar Rudolph of Chemie-Cluster Bayern is particularly interested in this. “In Bavaria I see that we focus mainly on technological development, but forget the social system around it. I think there is much we can learn from the Netherlands in this area. It is good to see these examples”, Rudolph says.

Harald Faulhaber looks at work of the students

German experts
Rudolph is a strong supporter of open innovation. In Bavaria, he tries to convince others to work more closely together: “There are plenty of German experts, the technical knowledge is definitely not lacking. There are not many people who stand up and decide who should be responsible for what. The system for setting up innovation is somewhat lacking. Germans may be more cautious in this respect. That is going much better in the Netherlands.”

Just like Woertman in his presentation, Rudolph points out the importance of mutual trust in each other: “You must always be discreet, even when you work in close collaboration. You can’t share everything, that’s where IP distribution comes in. But when you openly enter into discussion and know who has contributed to what, that increases trust in each other.”

Finally, he has a tip for Dutch businesses. Rudolph: “German companies are very good at quickly choosing a focus area, in which they make no concessions in quality. They quickly look at an international market.”

Martin Grossmann (standing before the table) thanks the BIC for the hospitality

Eye height
The network trip was set up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands and the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology. Martin Grossmann is responsible for the internationalisation of Bavaria. He indicates the importance of looking beyond one’s own borders: “Smart factories and smart-logistics are becoming more and more dependent on smart technology and the proper processing of the increasing data flows. But everyone approaches this differently. There is no fixed recipe for success, so it is important to learn from each other and work together more intensively. The big companies are already doing this, but it is also important to get the smaller players to the table.”

Since 2016, the Netherlands and the German state have been working on strengthening connections. Marijn van Haaren senior advisor at the economic department of the Dutch consulate in Munich sees many opportunities on both sides: “South Germany is practically at the eye level of the Netherlands, the industry continues to grow there are many opportunities for cooperation. With various projects – including this one – we try to make use of them.”

Edwin Wolterink from Anteryon shows the German delegation the fabric

Expand to the Netherlands
Harald Faulhaber is Managing Director of Membrain GmbH, a software manufacturer that works for more than 300 customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. “And perhaps soon in the Netherlands”, says Faulhaber, while leaving his business card with Anteryon. “Within the company, we have been orienting ourselves for some time whether the Netherlands can be a good location. A trip like this is ideal to see how they work here and whether it is in line with our philosophy. The Netherlands has an excellent data infrastructure that is ideal for us. We are looking for the best partners to work with.”

Others have less concrete plans in the Netherlands and mainly want to expand their network. The same applies to Andreas Johannes Estner of VDMA Bayern, one of the largest network organisations in Europe in the field of mechanical engineering. “We have an enormous network and by getting an overview of what is going on in the Netherlands, we can bring companies in Bavaria into contact with parties from the Netherlands”, says Estner.

Between the welding booths and milling machines used by Summa College and other companies, Estner says that he finds this form of cooperation interesting: “At this location, many different parties, government and education work together, I think that would take more time in Germany. Before anyone takes action, everything must be written in black and white. Everything must go according to plan, which of course makes setting up something more difficult. But that does not mean that it is not possible. Just look at the startup hub in Munich, where many parties are involved.”

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About the author

Author profile picture Milan Lenters is a writer and editor. Through IO, he got to know his native city Eindhoven in a different way and sometimes looks with amazement at the many stories that lie ahead.