Discover Eindhoven’s Innovation Rich Startup Environment

Published on:

Do you want to launch your startup in Europe, in a dynamic, innovative and multicultural setting? Eindhoven might be the place for you!

Check out the inforgraphic on how to start a startup in Eindhoven!

Eindhoven, the center of the Brainport region, one of the most inventive cities in the world! Who wouldn’t want to start their business here? Forbes.com declared Eindhoven the most inventive city in the world in 2013. It has also been listed in the top 15 for several consecutive years by the ICF, having the highest patent density. Only a few minutes by bike from the center, is the High Tech Campus: the smartest square kilometer in the Netherlands, and maybe in the world, home to more than 140 companies and over 10.000 researchers.

Still not convinced that this is the ideal setting for your startup? The Financial Times ranked Eindhoven third in the foreign direct investment index. You will be thriving amidst the extremely active and productive startup community, attracted here by the fertile environment.

The Beating Heart Of The Brainport: Eindhoven

The innovation in Eindhoven region focusses mainly on research and development in the following fields:

  • High-tech hardware (i.e. any high-tech technological product and service, non-restricted to the computer industry) and software, mainly on the High Tech Campus (HTC)
  • Medical technology developed at the MMC
  • The automotive industry at the automotive campus in Helmond, slightly outside Eindhoven (15 minutes by car).

If these fields interest you, then Eindhoven is the place for you. In addition to the many success stories of businesses that went before you, here are a few key elements to keep in mind when considering in Eindhoven.

Why Eindhoven:

  • Being the center of the Brainport region, it has an active collaboration between different sectors (cf. supra).
  • There are programs designed to coach and boost you on every level of business: Precelerators/Launchpads, Incubators, Accelerators (startups, small- and medium-sized businesses).
  • The presence of the TU/e, one of the top technological universities in Europe, implies more than 10 000 students, 600 promovendi and 200 postdocs for this university alone potentially ready and willing to get involved in your project.
  • As the founding factors for the development of Eindhoven, the hardware manufacturers: Philips, ASML, NXP, Océ, FEI, DAF, VDL, etc. guarantee a rich background and experience in this domain.
  • One of the unique factors in Eindhoven is its close relationship with Design. The Design Academy ensures the presence of numerous talented individuals and the organization of internationally renowned events. Design in Eindhoven does not only mean artistic value, but also its application in technology and innovation.
  • Of course, Eindhoven as an international hub disposes of excellent connectivity to the rest of Europe: by plane through Eindhoven Airport, by train, by bus and obviously by car.

What You Have To Keep In Mind:

  • The limited domains that Eindhoven specializes in, mean that if your startup idea does not correspond to these fields it might not be the place for you.
  • The Netherlands in general are not known for their good weather, so if the sun is a must for you this might be a downside. It is said, though, that good weather is inversely proportionate to welfare…
  • For you international cuisine foodies out there, Eindhoven might prove a challenge: Fresh and healthy food is available at the markets, but on a daily basis it is hard to come by, especially for the more exotic produces. This may be pushing the expectations a bit high though…

As you can see, Eindhoven offers very few downsides if you’re in the right field of work. So, let’s dive in to the specifics to get to know this city.

Discover Eindhoven’s Startup Community

eindhoven_guide_community

The best way to get to know the startup community is to get involved yourself. You, and your potential co-founders, are welcome to join in with any of the numerous startup events. The typically Dutch approach usually includes a borrel afterwards, an informal drink allowing you to discuss your ideas, learn more about others and just general networking.

Several online groups and platforms are also in place to help you figure out which way to go in this community bristling with ideas and energy. But don’t let the apparent informality fool you, when it gets down to business we know what we’re doing and how to help you get where you want to go!

Communities In Eindhoven, Organizing Events:

  • The HTC organizes many events, concerning all the diverse communities active on the campus. You can find these in their calendar: HTC Events.
  • Eindhoven Startups is an internet platform searching to regroup all the information about the startup community in Eindhoven with a very clear map functionality. Their agenda is mainly focused on the events by the KvK (more on the KvK later).
  • Startup Eindhoven is a start-up community directly linked to the TU/e, having their own agenda for events.
  • Wonderlab is a community and infrastructure in Strijp-S (one of the innovative neighborhood in Eindhoven, founded in the old industry of Philips) which aims to help entrepreneurs found their own company. They organize multiple networking events, pitch-workshops/competitions and bigger events.
  • The KIC IE CommUnity in Eindhoven is part of a large network throughout Europe, linked to KIC IE. KIC is active in energy innovation by producing and educating through their masters program. The CommUnity aims to link students and alumni to the professional world, interesting for start-ups of course.
  • The Hub Eindhoven is creating a space for expats in Eindhoven to feel relaxed and at home. At the same time they are connecting Eindhoven to the rest of the world as an expat destination. They regularly organize events for their community, several of these have a connection to start-ups or are interesting for start-ups, so check out their calendar.
  • The global expat network, Internations, is also active in Eindhoven, creating another community organizing events for the multicultural community.

Regular Events & Meetups:

  • HighTechXL’s Impact Days all over Europe scout for promising start-ups to integrate into their accelerator program (more on that later). These events also provide a good opportunity to practice your pitch and meet other start-ups and mentors.
  • HighTech Plaza regularly organize their Drinks&Demos where anybody can pitch their idea to the assembly, getting immediate feedback. It drops you right in the center of the fray and it’s great for networking. Of course you can also come as a spectator to get a taste of everything.

Major Events:

  • XL Day is the conclusion of the acceleration program at HighTechXL, resulting in a 1000+ participant-event. The presence of numerous entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and general start-up-enthusiasts makes for a wonderful innovative cocktail. These events take place one or two times per year.
  • EHV Summit is a networking event organized by Eindhoven Brainport for start-ups, scale-ups, spin-offs, investors and corporates.
  • Startup Weekend is an intensive one-weekend event for new start-ups and people wanting to discover what a start-up really is. They collaborate for the period of the event to advance the project. These events take place on an irregular basis in Eindhoven.
  • Lean Startup Experience is a three-day workshop by Blue Whale Ventures that is supposed to learn you the basics of what it means to run a startup.
  • Glow is the Eindhoven light festival, where artists and designers expose their works literally in and on different buildings in the city. This is also a moment for new technologies to be demonstrated, and a perfect event to socialize.
  • DDW (Dutch Design Week) is the internationally known design festival in Eindhoven, showing off a mix of art, design and technology in numerous spots throughout the city.

Volunteering Possibilities:

The startup community in Eindhoven is always open to bright energetic minds willing to lend a hand. Just knock on the door of any of the communities mentioned in this article, and you’ll find a welcoming hand to help you discover. I know this from first-hand experience, since this is how I got involved in the first place!

Second Stop: Join A Co-working Space In Eindhoven

eindhoven_guide_coworking

The best way to get set up and connect to the right people is joining the right work-space. A co-working space offers you the perfect environment where you will find like-minded people and the valuable know-how of other people.

Co-working Spaces In Eindhoven:

  • BounceSpace, inside the old WTC of Eindhoven, very close to the center ;
  • EPIC, next to Eindhoven Airport, variable in space ;
  • HighTech Plaza, linked to HighTechXL it’s a dedicated space for high-tech start-ups on the HTC ;
  • FoundedByAll, business hub for entrepreneurs ;
  • Seats2Meet, right in the center of Eindhoven, available for working space, meeting space, etc. ;
  • Startup Campus Hub (Tu/e), this project aims to create a huge co-working space for start-ups and scale-ups before 2020.

Where To Get Your Startup Financed In Eindhoven

eindhoven_guide_financing

Once you’re convinced you have a great idea, of course it will need financing. Luckily Eindhoven has tons of different possibilities to get your company of the ground. Brainport provides a platform to find all the necessary information for your company in its different stages.

The various programs are adapted to all stages of evolution of your company.

Precelerator:

  • Blue Whale Ventures offers a precelerator program to help you get your startup from an idea to a funded project. Their aim is to help you get your first investors and get a solid plan to get into an incubation program or just get your idea off the ground.

Incubators:

  • HighTech Plaza is an incubator program on the HTC connected to the HighTechXL program.
  • The Twinning incubator situated in the Science Park of the TU/e is directly linked to the university and the Brainport Development department.
  • Catalyst Technology & Business Incubator on the TU/e terrain in the center of Eindhoven is meant for growing start-ups and scale-ups in the (bio-)chemical, biomedical, physical or mechanical engineering department.
  • Brightmove is another initiative from the TU/e, based on the old Incubator3+ program on the university’s terrain.
  • IMPACT is the TU/e’s Innovationlab, based mainly on student initiatives.
  • The MMC Incubator is an incubator on the Medical campus focused on the Healthcare department.

Accelerators:

  • HighTech XL is an accelerator program on the HTC with an extensive European network of mentors, industrial experts and investors. It is specialized in high-tech hardware and software, recently launching in the sports industry (2016).
  • KIC IE Highway is an acceleration program specialized on innovation in durable energy.
  • Blue Accelerator is combining Blue Economy with high-tech start-ups on the HTC.
  • NextOEM aims to produce the next big original equipment manufacturer, to tread in the footsteps of Philips and ASML.
  • Next Move supports start-ups and entrepreneurs to overcome all the hurdles a young business faces.
  • Econic is an internal acceleration program of ABN Amro, the Dutch bank. This program was recently started in collaboration with HighTech XL
  • LUMO offers a two-year program, from acceleration to scale-up, including a protoype and manufacturing program.
  • The accelerator of the automotive campus is Shift2Start.

Successive Programs:

  • Once your start-up has made it through an acceleration program and you’re ready for the next step, βèta offers working space on the HTC for small R&D businesses.
  • on the other hand is an accelerator for small- to medium-sized businesses, also on the HTC.

Grants & Subventions:

  • The BOM is the society for the Noord-Brabant province, providing valuable support and funding to innovation and entrepreneurship in this area.
  • MKB+ is the innovation fund by the Dutch government with a special fund: MKB+ Seed for start-ups and the like.
  • With WBSO you can lower the charges of your start-up by paying less taxes etc.
  • EU subventions of course also apply to the Dutch market.

Crowd Investing Platforms:

Angel Investors:

  • Angelinvestmentnetwork.nl is similar to a crowdfunding platform but specific to angel investors.
  • Angel.co is a platform allowing you to link with angel investors all over the Netherlands and to promote your business for investment. It creates visible profiles for every investor and entrepreneur.
  • BAT is a specialized angel investment platform for technologic businesses.
  • Tiincapital creates funds investing in either early-stage or mid-stage, angel investors can then invest in these funds instead of investing directly.
  • Matchinvest links entrepreneurs to a fix network of angel investors, ‘matching’ them according to interests.
  • Mindhunter.nl is a Dutch investment network which can be used for all kinds of financial projetcts.

Venture Capital Investors:

  • Ico’s Capital is an investor for early stage cleantech.
  • Capital Mills BV invests in businesses in the Benelux in their early stages.
  • HenQ focusses on Dutch companies in the software and internet department.
  • Axivate Capital invests in both early- and mid-stage businesses in the media and internet department, focusing on expanding the business on an international level.
  • Vitulum Ventures is a small Venture Capital investor focused on seed-stage internet and mobile start-ups.
  • Brooklyn Ventures is a small Venture Capital fund ran by executives from diverse backgrounds.
  • Helius Ventures is based on private capital invested in early- and mid-stage businesses.
  • Prime Ventures is mainly focused on technological companies in Europe.
  • Cottonwood Technology Funds is a fund from the USA based in the Netherlands investing primarily in high-tech start-ups in several domains.

Other Investment Opportunities:

  • Teckle is an innovation investment portfolio by Rabobank in which individuals can invest.

Where To Go In Eindhoven If Any Questions Remain

eindhoven_mentors

The KvK is the dutch governmental institution where all companies have to register. They provide excellent guidance and advice for any entrepreneur and host regular information sessions. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with them concerning any administrative issues.

________________________

Several of the links in this guide will send you to websites written in Dutch, don’t worry though, all Dutch people speak perfect English and will be glad to help you.

Contributor: Davide Garufi

The guides are like startup communities – they constantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

Sharing is caring, so please share this post. Thank you!