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Next step in ‘customer experience’

When you contact a business or a government agency, it is highly likely that you will encounter a Webhelp employee. Webhelp designs and provides ‘customer experiences’ for many brands, both big and small. Each day, more than 3,500 Webhelp employees in the Netherlands deal with consumers’ various needs, concerns and queries that come in by app, chat, email and phone. Globally, this international player has a whopping 40,000 employees.

With the opening of the new, modern premises, Webhelp Netherlands is now active in nine locations: Rotterdam, Groningen, Enschede (2), Ede, Zoetermeer, Tilburg, Hilversum and Paramaribo. The Rotterdam branch will initially employ about 210 people, with the aim to double this number by 2019.

Welcome addition to Rotterdam

Webhelp was attracted to Rotterdam partly because of the local job market. Recruiting suitable staff in sufficient numbers can be challenging. However, research demonstrated that an adequate supply of talent is available in the city.

“We were attracted to Rotterdam due to the diversity of the city and its people. We were also drawn here because of this dynamic city’s rapid growth. Rotterdam is an exciting place,” says Ronald van Schijndel, CEO of Webhelp Netherlands.

Webhelp does all it can to attract and retain staff. When furnishing the new premises, for instance, employee needs were one of the company’s main concerns. It is designed to be a workplace that allows people to feel at home. Van Schijndel explains, “We are really happy with our new premises at Delftse Poort. We are located in the centre and the travelling connections are great. The building alone has so much more personality than your standard office set up. It’s a hectic job, of course, which is why we think it is important to provide a work environment that also inspires and helps people to relax.”

In the hunt for a suitable location for new premises, Webhelp was helped by Rotterdam Partners and InnovationQuarter. “We are very pleased that Webhelp has chosen Rotterdam and are proud that the company can see the many advantages of this international city,” says Jeroen Kuyper, director of Rotterdam Partners.

Rotterdam Partners and InnovationQuarter often collaborate to attract businesses to the city and the wider region. “Webhelp is a welcome addition to Rotterdam. It’s a fast-growing company and its arrival will create many new jobs in the region,” says Chris van Voorden, InnovationQuarter’s head of Foreign Investments.

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Archimedes Drive - Revolutie in de robotica

Cars, robots and wind turbines move with the aid of gear drives. But there are disadvantages to this system. The gear teeth never engage exactly, which leads to power loss and imprecise movements. Furthermore, the gears are maintenance sensitive and relatively large and heavy.

First breakthrough in 60 years

IMSystems from Delft has solved these problems with a new gear-drive system that will shake the mechanics world to its core. The Archimedes Drive is the first real breakthrough in transmissions in over 60 years. Instead of gears, IMSystems uses a patented (planetary) speed-reducer system with smooth, hollow rollers made from hard steel that roll over each other and transmit power based on friction. This enables IMSystems to produce more power than current alternatives in a smaller, lighter format. The transmission is also more precise due to the lack of backlash and the system does not require lubrication, which has a significant effect on maintenance. With a product whose performance and price will leave the competition far behind, IMSystems aims to bring about a revolution in the robotics market.

IMSystems’ Archimedes Drive will potentially enable new applications both within and beyond the upcoming robotics market,” says Edwin Berkhout, Director of Lucros Investment. “In our opinion, the rapid development that IMSystems has undergone in the last two years is impressive.

Potential uses

With its precise and efficient transmission, demand for the Archimedes Drive will be huge, not least for wind turbines, aircraft and electric cars, for instance. But IMSystems has chosen to focus mainly on robots: all large factories would like smaller industrial robots that work more precisely. This is where the Archimedes Drive comes in. It not only increases the productivity of robots that weld or instal chips but will in future make new applications possible, including the ability to carry out medical procedures without a surgeon. Collaborative robots which interact with humans, ‘cobots’ as they are known, also look set to take off. Robots are currently kept in cages as their imprecise movements can be dangerous for people, but such cages will no longer be necessary.

Archimedes Drive - Revolutie in de robotica

Product development with large robotics manufacturers

IMSystems is receiving an investment of €600,000 from InnovationQuarter and Lucros Investment to optimise the product and carry out endurance tests in collaboration with large robotics manufacturers. The technology works, but it now needs to be demonstrated that the Archimedes Drive continues working long-term and meets the high requirements of industrial standards.

With InnovationQuarter and Lucros on board, we have two professional hands-on investors who will support us in important phases, including further development, product optimisation and bringing this revolutionary technology to market. – Jack Schorsch, inventor and CEO of IMSystems.

Successful collaboration

IMSystems is a success story of the Delft ecosystem. Archimedes Drive was initially conceived at Delft University of Technology. The company then sought the support of start-up incubator YES!Delft before moving to RoboValley, where over 170 robotics researchers are working with entrepreneurs and various experts from the public and private sectors on the next generation of robotics. The company has already received an investment of €300,000 from the UNIIQ proof-of-concept fund.

Francis Quint, head of InnovationQuarter Capital – We have been in contact with IMSystems for a long time and can see enormous potential in this groundbreaking technology. The company is a fantastic example of how young businesses can flourish in the regional innovation ecosystem.

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InnovationQUarter-Access-to-Capital-2018-980x450

Investing in innovation

Having access to capital is one of the conditions for companies to be able to innovate. The Access to Capital event was initiated by a number of parties to support starting and fast-growing entrepreneurs from the Digital Health and Security sectors in their search for funding. The event has proven succesful for pitching companies in previous editions of Access to Capital, which is why the organising parties, The Hague Security Delta, InnovationQuarter, Rabobank Regio Den Haag, Value Creation Capital, KPN Ventures, TIIN Capital, and Health Innovation Fund repeated the formula this year.

Pitching organisations and winners

The 12 innovative entrepreneurs pitching their businessplans within the areas of Digital Health and Cybersecurity were hand-picked out of a large pool of registered companies. The winners were selected by a professional jury.

The winner in the category Cybersecurity was HSD Partner Bitsensor

InnovationQUarter-Access-to-Capital-2018-Bitsensor

Chris van ‘t Hof (chairman), Ruben Vreeland (Bitsensor), Johan Stins (InnovationQuarter)

The winner in the category Digital Health was Happitech

InnovationQUarter-Access-to-Capital-2018-Happitech

Willem van den Berg (Value Creation Capital), Yosef Safi Harb (Happitech)

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Founded in 2012, Exasun started the production of Back-Contact-on-Glass solar panels in The Hague in 2016, after four years of research and development. Local production in the Netherlands is made possible by automated manufacturing of its smaller solar panels, thereby minimizing transport-related CO2 emissions. As the first company in the world, Exasun combines the best cell technology – Back-Contact cells – with special components for an extensive life. In 2016, Exasun was the first manufacturer globally to bring its Back-Contact-on-Glass solar panels on the market. Thanks to the longer lifespan and higher yield of the Exasun panels, their costs of electricity (€ ct / kWh) are the lowest on the market.

Panels, tiles and roofs

Besides solar panels, Exasun makes solar roof tiles. These come in black and orange-red and can be installed between existing roof tiles, which is a quintessential characteristic of Dutch homes. Another product is an entire solar-panel roof, used in newly built homes. These are both more efficient and nicer-looking alternatives for traditional solar panels.

It took four to five years of research and development to get this head start, said Michiel. Now, Exasun will use the investment to introduce a fully automated production line later this year, with a five-fold increase in production capacity. Capacity will be scaled up further in 2019.

“We’re very enthusiastic,” said Mark Weustink, head of ING Sustainable Investments. “Exasun offers an aesthetically and economically attractive solution to putting homes and buildings in the Netherlands and Europe on more sustainable footing.”

“Exasun’s integrated PV-panels provide a perfect solution for the increasing demand for PV-technology within the built environment” says Nienke Vledder, fondsmanager of ENERGIIQ. The panels have a high yield, a longer life expectancy, have great aesthetics and an easy installation system. These advantages advance the adoption of sustainable solar energy induction, which fits perfectly within the objectives of ENERGIIQ.”

Source: Parts of this article were borrowed from an article in The Financial