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Protecting innovations through patents is crucial in bringing new products and services to market. However, maintaining this protection year after year and for various countries is costly. Therefore, deciding which patents are worth keeping is a choice all R&D-oriented companies periodically deal with. Focus, a company based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has come up with a solution for this problem. Focus is developing an algorithm that enables patents in a portfolio to be ranked quickly and automatically, based on their technological importance. To further develop their algorithm and test it extensively with customers, Focus receives an investment of proof-of-concept fund UNIIQ. The investment was announced by Martin Luxemburg, director of the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, where the office of Focus is located.

Screening hundreds of thousands of patents manually

R&D activities across the globe lead to the existence of large patent portfolios with various companies. These portfolios consist, depending on the innovative character and scope of the company, of hundreds of thousands of patents. The investments made to maintain such a portfolio run into millions of euros per year.
Each portfolio is continuously subject to change. New patents are added while existing patents are stricken from the portfolio. Maintaining the portfolio as such is the task of a select group of patent- and technology experts. Periodically these people manually go through parts of the portfolio, to identify which patents are important, and which patented technologies can be stricken without damaging the company’s position. With no tools available on the market to rank patents based on their importance, the patent- and technology expert has to screen the entire patent portfolio manually.

Focus’ patent ranking algorithm makes portfolio management much more effective

This manual screening makes the management of a patent portfolio a labour intensive and costly process. Focus is developing an algorithm with which this screening becomes a lot more efficient. This algorithm ranks patents within a portfolio automatically based on their technological importance. In placing the patent in a ranked order, the algorithm takes into account the context and development of the entire patent landscape within the domain concerned. Therefore, the patent expert instantly gains insight in what the most and the least valuable patents are in his portfolio, after which he can look into these particular patents in more detail.

Performing pilots on complete patent portfolios

The founders of Focus, Jard van Ingen and Thijs van de Pol, combine knowledge of the patent industry with a model-based, econometrical outlook to develop a superior and unique ranking algorithm. This algorithm has proven itself within a select number of technical domains during tests with potential customers. Focus will use the UNIIQ investment to further develop the algorithm to enable its use on the worldwide network of patents, and all technical domains.

Jard van Ingen, co-founder Focus: “We are thrilled and honoured that UNIIQ has placed their confidence in our ability to take this venture to the next level. The UNIIQ investment will enable us to scale up our algorithm, execute multiple pilot projects with prospective customers, and design a simple interface for users to interact with our algorithm”.

Liduina Hammer, fund manager UNIIQ: “With the investment in Focus we add the first legal tech company to our portfolio. The algorithm of Focus can support R&D-oriented companies with the labour-intensive and valuable process of portfolio maintenance, hereby contributing to the innovative power of the company”.

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Suzanne Kroeze

Business Analist UNIIQ
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DAB has developed a unique bioreactor technology that increases the productivity of the fermentation process. At the same time, it reduces the operational costs with 50%. Using this technique, products made with fermentation become more affordable and competitive with fossil processes. Application of this technology on a large scale is expected to accelerate the transition to a bio-based economy. DAB licenses its technology to large industrial parties that integrate it into their existing production processes.

Kirsten Steinbusch, CEO of DAB: ‘We recently received an investment of € 2 million, making the move to the Biotech Campus Delft a logical next step. We want to further develop our technology and to accelerate our commercial growth. To scale up our technology, we work closely with the TU Delft and with an established partner on the Biotech Campus, the Bioprocess Pilot Facility (BPF). Thanks to the good facilities available at the Biotech Campus Delft, we now can explore new market applications and further optimize our techniques.’ ‘We are delighted to welcome DAB at the Biotech Campus,’ says Raimo van der Linden, Business Development Manager at Bioprocess Pilot Facility (BPF). ‘It offers great benefits for both DAB and BPF. The BPF has extensive expertise in scaling up production, even on an industrial scale. We are happy to support DAB with our knowledge, infrastructure, permits and the use of our test factory.’

Cindy Gerhardt, Business Development Director of the Biotech Campus Delft, is also pleased to welcome DAB at the campus. ‘DAB is the third innovative Biotech company that settles at the campus, and we are not even officially open! DAB is a wonderful example of the unique strength of Delft in biotechnology; an idea originating from research at the TU in Delft, was incubated as a start-up at YES!Delft, and now moves to our campus to get access to all the facilities needed for upscaling and commercial growth. Together, we can realize the transition to a sustainable bio-based economy!’

Loek Becker Hoff

Senior Account Manager Cleantech
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During an official economic mission from the Netherlands to Boston led by Prime Minister Rutte, representatives from public investment agencies, the biotech industry and other organizations convened to discuss a broad-based partnership to advance ongoing collaboration in life sciences between the Netherlands and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy signed a Memorandum of Understanding laying the basis for a Massachusetts – the Netherlands Transatlantic Life Sciences Partnership.

Massachusetts and the Netherlands kickoff international partnership in life sciences

The signature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a testimony to the strategic importance of life sciences as well as a mutual recognition of Massachusetts and the Netherlands as two international biotech hubs. Indeed, Massachusetts counts nearly 70,000 people working in life sciences, with Boston-Cambridge alone boasting more than 500 biotech companies, 5 of the top 6 hospitals in the U.S., and 48 colleges. The Netherlands is a younger yet rapidly growing biotechnology hub at the heart of the EU, with more than 420 biopharmaceutical companies, 12 research universities, 85 hospitals, around 200 publicprivate partnerships and is the home to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The Netherlands is also one of the most concentrated life sciences and health clusters worldwide, featuring 2,900 companies within a 200km radius. In addition to the signatories, Health-Holland, MassBio, HollandBIO and the Henri A. Termeer Tribute Committee will provide support for accelerating the growth of their life sciences hubs and the global opportunities for their respective domestic research organizations and companies. The partnership entails regular dialogues to promote a mutual understanding of the environment for life sciences in Europe, in the U.S. and worldwide, and facilitate global expansion. Collectively, these organizations will set-up various activities to foster collaboration and partnership across the Atlantic such as exchange of scientific results, pitches of research projects and generally fostering the flow of talent, ideas and people between the two ecosystems.

Focco Vijselaar, Director-General Enterprise and Innovation at Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy: “The Netherlands and Massachusetts have successful life sciences communities. By joining forces in this partnership they can both be strengthened.” Mark Sullivan, Executive Director of Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment: “By signing this MoU we underline the great opportunities that lie ahead of two formidable life sciences ecosystems, here in Massachusetts as well as in the Netherlands. This international partnership will help create economic development and investment in the sector.”

John Maraganore, co-chair of The Henri A. Termeer Tribute Committee, Board Member of BIO and CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: “This MOU is a great demonstration of the international leadership of Massachusetts in life sciences, as well as the fast-growing development of the Netherlands as an environment that champions a vibrant ecosystem for life sciences and healthcare innovation. As a company headquartered in Cambridge, MA and with strategic and growing European operations in the Netherlands, we are strongly convinced that the collaboration potential between innovators in these two leading life sciences hubs is immense, and patients are waiting for the fruits of our work.”

Hans Schikan, Top Team member of Health-Holland: “Working together is part of the Dutch DNA. By collaborating with the best we can identify innovative solutions that matter.” Robert K. Coughlin, President and CEO, MassBio: “Disease has no borders, and neither should the research and development necessary to create new therapies and cures. We’re looking forward to embarking on this international partnership with the Netherlands and sharing the talent, resources, and capabilities of Massachusetts’ innovation ecosystem so we can all more efficiently bring new tomorrows to patients around the globe.”

Annemiek Verkamman, Managing Director at HollandBIO, the Dutch biotech industry association: “This transatlantic partnership provides a solid basis for increased collaboration between both our vibrant life sciences communities. We are looking forward to helping create opportunities for innovation and investments and fostering mutual understanding of our life sciences ecosystems.”

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In the summer of 2019, Zalando will start construction on its first Dutch fulfillment center in an existing business park in Bleiswijk, near Rotterdam. With the further expansion of its logistics network, Zalando is setting the ground for its 2023/24 growth target and the promise to continuously improve its customer proposition. The Bleiswijk fulfillment center will cater to customers in Western Europe, namely the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. Zalando was assisted with the site selection by InnovationQuarter and the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency.

Jan Bartels, SVP Customer Fulfillment says, “A strong logistics network is the foundation for realizing our growth strategy and the vision of becoming the Starting Point for Fashion. By constructing a new state-of-the-art fulfillment center in Bleiswijk, we are confident that this is an important step forward in building the infrastructure to achieve 20 billion euros in Gross Merchandise Volume by 2023/2024.”

The site will have a floor area of 140,000 square meters and a total storage capacity of 16 million items. The first parcels are set to be delivered from Bleiswijk in the summer of 2021. About 1,500 jobs will be created in the mid-term. The development is being undertaken by a joint venture of Somerset Capital Partners and USAA Realco-Europe. Once the fulfillment center is ramped up to full speed, Zalando aims to reduce delivery lead times in Benelux markets.

Kenneth Melchior, Director Northern Europe adds: “The Benelux markets play an integral role in the growth ambition of Zalando. Over the next five years we aim to more than double revenues in this region, thereby strengthening our position as market leader. The opening of our fulfillment center in Bleiswijk is crucial in enabling this growth. We look forward to enhancing our customer proposition by reducing delivery lead times in the Benelux area and introducing services like next and same-day delivery once Bleiswijk is fully operational.”

Justin Hildebrandt, Managing Director of USAA Realco-Europe says, “We are excited and honoured to realize this fulfillment center for Zalando. The building’s innovative and forward-looking design and scale as one of the largest single occupier logistics developments in the Netherlands was the vision that we have had for this project, and Zalando was the ideal occupier to complete this vision.”

Tim Beckmann, partner Somerset Capital Partners: “We are very pleased that Zalando has chosen us for this great logistics development. This fulfillment center will be unique for its kind. The whole development will be done to the highest standards of sustainability and it will revitalize the business park that previously housed Royal FloraHolland’s flower auction activities. It provides us with a unique opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities in the area of logistics real estate (re)development.”

Investments and Location Choice

Zalando will invest 200 million euros in the center’s intralogistics. The fulfillment center will have the highest level of automation within Zalando’s network, which currently consists of nine fulfillment centers spread across Europe. The high degree of automation will take physically demanding tasks from employees, while increasing the service level for our customers.

Zalando has chosen Bleiswijk in the municipality of Lansingerland because of its location, the opportunity to invest into an existing business park with a well-developed infrastructure, and good collaboration with local authorities in Lansingerland. The proximity to the A12 highway and being in the heart of the densely populated Randstad region fit Zalando’s ambition to be close to its customers perfectly.

BREEAM certification

For the construction of the fulfillment center, Zalando has the ambition to invest in sustainable solutions and will, for example, install solar panels on the roof of the building. In this context, Zalando strives to achieve the ‘very good’ score of the sustainability certification BREEAM-NL. Operations in the facility will be managed by an independent partner, whose selection will happen through tender.

Loek Becker Hoff

Senior Account Manager Cleantech