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To strengthen cooperation between the space sector in the regions of Bremen and Zuid-Holland, SpaceNed, Province of Zuid-Holland, Aviaspace Bremen and the state of Bremen launched an action agenda at the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen. They were supported in the preparation of the action agenda by InnovationQuarter and Bremen Invest. The action agenda stems from agreements made during the space mission to Bremen in March 2019, in the presence of the King and Queen.

Enhanced international cooperation

The Zuid-Holland and Bremen regions both have a strong space sector. Better cooperation between the regions is favourable for the innovation climate and the economic strength of space companies. The action agenda contains agreements on cooperation actions until 2023, aimed at the described mutual challenges for the space sector. Agreements include a trade mission from Bremen to Zuid-Holland in 2020, joint Research & Development projects and strengthening of business and research relationships. Thematically, the cooperation focuses on, among other things, earth observation, lightweight materials and VR / AR in space applications.

The action agenda was presented by Hans-Georg Tschupke (Director of the Department of Innovation and Industry at the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Bremen) and Wiebe Brandsma (Director of Economy and Society at the Province of Zuid-Holland) together with Jeroen Rotteveel and Holger Oelze (the chairmen of SpaceNed and Aviaspace, respectively).

Jeroen Rotteveel: “A good neighbour is better than a distant friend; [Dutch proverb] that is why it is so logical to strengthen the ties with Bremen”. Hans-Georg Schupke adds: “This Action Agenda was not established because the governments are so keen; there are common interests and there is enthusiasm among companies and knowledge institutions for cooperation. ”

Companies and knowledge institutions from Zuid-Holland and Bremen immediately got to work at the Space Tech Expo in two round table discussions to further explore and work out collaborative activities. Then there was room for mutual acquaintance between companies themselves or with knowledge institutions during the matchmaking Meet the Dutch. And while enjoying ‘stroopwafels’ from Zuid-Holland and drinks, there was plenty of room for networking.

In the pavilion that was organized by InnovationQuarter, there was a lot of visitors and good contacts with international businesses. In addition, there was plenty of room for relaxed conversations around the “green screen” photo device that was set up on the stand. InnovationQuarter supports the province of Zuid-Holland in the compilation and implementation of the action agenda.

Bert Klarus

Senior Business Developer Smart Industry
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$ 3 mln. voor scale-up NewCompliance om uit te breiden naar de VS

Mayo Clinic, InnovationQuarter and Noaber Ventures invest in NewCompliance.

The Hague – NewCompliance, a leading company in interoperable data for hospitals, has successfully raised a $3 million Series A fundraising with Noaber, InnovationQuarter and Mayo Clinic. The funds will be used to support the company’s expansion in the USA and further development of its product-portfolio to expand its global reach.

What all started with a printed toilet roll that would remind users in hospitals to wash their hands, NewCompliance now develops innovative dashboards that provide insights and improves the safety and efficiency in hospitals during the entire surgical process. This is done by collecting, combining and intuitively displaying information from various systems and sensors on large displays in and around the Operating Room (OR). As a result, the OR team is fully aware of all processes and protocols that positively influence costs, workflow, efficiency and patient safety.

$ 3 mln. voor scale-up NewCompliance om uit te breiden naar de VS

“A beautiful scale-up that solves an important problem in healthcare,” says Rinke Zonneveld, Director of InnovationQuarter. With rising healthcare costs, NewCompliance delivers an important efficiency and safety boost. The company is already market leader in the Netherlands and is now focusing on an interesting new market.” The transatlantic step offers hospitals in the US an opportunity to implement clinical best practices from the Netherlands, one of the best healthcare systems in the world, also in the United States. They are currently live with three major customers in the US.

What problem does NewCompliance solve?

Healthcare costs are rising worldwide. The OR is responsible for 40-70% of the turnover of a hospital , and also for a large part of the hospital costs. The complexity of planning around operations often makes it difficult for hospitals to continue to achieve high efficiency standards. NewCompliance helps to reduce both the number of infections (SSI’s) and the costs by providing insight into various factors related to patient safety and by providing insight into surgical-related costs. “Hospitals generate huge amounts of data – stored in different data silos – this data is currently not being used. NewCompliance is the only party that can translate this data into useful information. ”Says Matthijs Blokhuis, director of Noaber Ventures. “The reason for Noaber Ventures to invest is that improved compliance with protocols leads to fewer complications for patients. Insight into data enables hospitals to further improve patient results, increase capacity utilization and reduce costs.”

Mayo Clinic first major US health-care provider to invest in NewCompliance.

Last summer, Mayo Clinic invested in NewCompliance. NewCompliance also has licensed know-how from Mayo Clinic. NewCompliance and Mayo Clinic are collaborating to develop unique perioperative dashboards for several clinical service lines, like Acute Emergency, Breast, and Thoracoscopic surgery. All the solutions are being created to help the patient get the most effective and comfortable experience during their entire surgical pathway.

Do you have any questions regarding this article?

Feel free to contact us.

Martien Kuunders

Senior Investment Manager
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UNIIQ-investering voor Addoptics

High-tech startup Addoptics has developed an innovative method that reduces the lead time for small-series production of customer-specific lenses from six weeks to six days. This includes the manufacture of lenses for smartphones and lighting, and the time reduction is in part achieved by using 3D printing techniques. To further develop and validate the technology with pilot customers, Addoptics is to receive a €300,000 injection from early-stage investment fund UNIIQ. The investment was announced by Rotterdam Deputy Mayor Barbara Kathmann (Economy, Districts and Local Communities) during the Rotterdam Capital Days event.

UNIIQ-investering voor Addoptics

Faster and more flexible testing with prototypes

Whether it involves the latest smartphone, a camera-equipped cardiac catheter, streetlights or car headlights, all of these finished products involve lenses. Optical systems and their applications are based on lenses, and prototypes of optical components are needed early in the development cycle of each new product. However, standard lenses that are available may often fail to meet the specific requirements of the desired end product. A manufacturer will therefore sometimes have special custom-made lens prototypes developed, but these take six to eight weeks to produce. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the prototype will work, which results in an extremely long product development period.

From six weeks to six days

Technological developments move at lightning speed and competition is fierce. As time to market is crucial, there are increasing calls for shorter development cycles and greater design freedom (‘free-form’ lenses) from a range of industries, including medical technology, automotive, lighting, production technology and communication applications.

By using 3D printing technology to produce lenses that meet customer specifications, Addoptics has developed a fast and flexible lens manufacturing process for custom-made optical components. And instead of six weeks, the firm can produce the lenses in just six days. Due to its innovative technology, Addoptics is making shorter and more flexible development cycles a reality while offering greater design freedom.

Fine-tuning the technology and working towards pilots

The investment from proof-of-concept fund UNIIQ will help Addoptics take the crucial next steps. In the coming period, the company will further fine-tune the technology and test it with various pilot customers. Addoptics co-founders Joris Biskop and Lucas Klamer form a strong team. Both have extensive experience in the optical industry and together possess good technological know-how in optics and 3D printing. They also have expertise in materials science, excellent commercial skills and access to a broad network in the optical industry.

Joris Biskop, Addoptics co-founder and CEO:

“With the support of UNIIQ as an investment partner, Addoptics will be able to realise its ambitions. We are proud to have the opportunity to develop our innovative concept further, prior to taking the first steps towards bringing it to market.”

Liduina Hammer, UNIIQ fund manager: “Addoptics is a valuable addition to the optical cluster in the greater Rotterdam The Hague area. The investment from UNIIQ will enable the firm to move forward with its innovative technology and validate it with pilot customers.”

Want to know more?

Please contact us.

Liduina Hammer

Fund Manager UNIIQ
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WestHolland launched as composites hotspot during JEC World in Paris

Dutch composites industry

The unique ecosystem for composites & new materials in West Holland was presented in the Holland Pavilion of industry association CompositesNL. Besides the academic knowledge & research, application development and original equipment manufacturers present in our region, special attention was given to SAM XL.

Fieldlab SAM XL

The Smart Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) XL fieldlab will open in 2019 and serves as a research and testing facility for automated composite technology solutions; like the automated manufacturing of thin-walled aerospace structures or thick-walled structures for wind turbine blades and bridge decks. Partners in this fieldlab, like TU Delft, GTM Advanced Structures, Fokker/GKN Aerospace and KVE Composites were also present at the fair. And with showcases from Inholland and Airborne Composites, the West Holland ecosystem was strongly represented.

Infographic

Here are 10 reasons Why West Holland is the hotspot for composites. Download the infographic via this link or request a hardcopy via communicatie@innovationquarter.nl.

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There are high expectations of the quantum computer: it should enable us to perform calculations that we cannot do with current technology. “I am thinking of intricate global climate change models, for example, or models of the immune system’s capability to destroy cancer cells”, said Rector Magnificus Tim van der Hagen during the opening. “We can also use quantum technology to make inherently secure internet connections.”

Joint effort

Delivering on these promises will require major investments in money, time and effort in the coming years. “The development of the quantum computer requires a joint effort from science, government and industry”, says Ronald Hanson, scientific director of QuTech. “We are very pleased with the support we receive from the Dutch government, but even more cooperation – at national and international level – is certainly needed in the coming years.”

Cooperation with industry is essential in this respect, which is why TU Delft and TNO are pleased with the arrival of the Microsoft Quantum Lab on campus. “In Delft, we are building an innovation ecosystem around quantum technology, a Quantum Campus, where all parties will join forces to realise the quantum computer and the quantum internet”, says Hanson.

Building blocks

The Microsoft Quantum Lab will be working on qubits – the building blocks of quantum computers – based on majorana particles. This will be done under the leadership of Leo Kouwenhoven, who found the first evidence of the elusive majorana particle in 2012 at TU Delft. Majorana-based qubits are one of the three roadmaps QuTech is working on. Hanson: “Majorana particles are a potential candidate for qubits, and in this area we are collaborating closely with Microsoft. We are also working with other partners on other options for making qubits, for example with nitrogen atoms in diamond or with currents in superconducting circuits. The interaction between the different groups, and the exchange of knowledge between the various roadmaps make Delft an important place for quantum research. This position has been strengthened further with the establishment of the Microsoft lab.”

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 InnovationQuarter investeert in duurzame ruimtevaartinnovaties van Dawn Aerospace
Foto Remco Zwinkels

Dawn Aerospace was founded in 2016 by Jeroen Wink, Stefan Powell, Robert Werner, Tobias Knop, and James Powell and has locations in Delft and New Zealand. The company is a spin-off from the TU Delft and part of the YES!Delft and StarBurst accelerator programmes. Dawn Aerospace is developing a reusable rocket for satellite launches as well as propulsion systems (thrusters) that are powered by non-toxic gasses. The rocket, also called ‘spaceplane’, will fly autonomously and can enter space several times a day, bringing small satellites into orbit around the earth.

Sustainable space innovations

Dawn Aerospace previously received MIT funding, a subsidy scheme set up by the Province of Zuid-Holland and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, to stimulate regional SMEs to develop new innovative products and services. This grant was used for the early stage development of their innovative thruster and Mk-II spaceplane. The spaceplane was successfully tested in August 2018 and an official launch of the Mk-II is expected in 2020.

Jeroen Wink, CEO Dawn Aerospace:

“In these incredibly exciting times for the space industry, the Mk-II Spaceplane will be the first in a series of reusable spacecraft that will radically change access to space”

Thrusters enable satellites to maneuver once they are in space. Adjustments may be necessary during the lifespan of the satellite, but the thrusters can also be used to push the satellite out of orbit at the end of its life cycle, avoiding space debris. Unlike conventional propulsion systems, which use hydrazine, the Dawn Aerospace thrusters are powered by a combination of widely available non-toxic gases. This makes the thrusters much more applicable, while maintaining the advantages chemically powered thrusters have over electric alternatives. The first thruster is scheduled to be launched from French Guyana in July 2019. A second launch, in cooperation with Dutch satellite company Hiber, will include the MIT-funded system and is planned for October 2019.

New opportunities for the transforming New Space Industry

The thruster technology is used to develop the spaceplane, which will launch small satellites in a more flexible, faster and cost-effective way. This is yet an unfulfilled gap in the ever growing market for small satellites for which Dawn Aerospace will offer a solution.

Francis Quint, head of InnovationQuarter Capital:

“This investment allows Dawn Aerospace to take the next steps in the development of their spaceplane, which enables faster, more cost-effective and greener satellite launches. We expect Dawn Aerospace to develop into a fast growing and important player within the West Holland aerospace cluster.

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Minister Wiebes of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy: “These results once again confirm that foreign companies are important to our globally operating country. Around one million people work for foreign companies in the Netherlands and an additional half-million work indirectly for these companies as suppliers, particularly in SMEs. Due to the growing international uncertainty surrounding Brexit and changing global trade policies, the importance of a good Dutch business climate for all of us is continually increasing.”

The work of the NFIA falls partly under the responsibility of the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag: “The impending Brexit and tensions around international trade provide opportunities for Dutch companies. Our companies are innovative, flexible and adapt to this changing market. Furthermore, the Netherlands’ position as a stable economic hub is also attractive to foreign companies. This position will only be further strengthened. It is positive that this is reflected in the approximately 10,000 newly-created jobs in 2018.”

These results once again confirm that foreign companies are important to our globally operating country – Minister Wiebes of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy

From headquarters to R&D

The NFIA is responsible for 8,475 out of the 9,847 jobs created by the Invest in Holland network. In 2018, the NFIA managed to attract 248 foreign investment projects to the Netherlands, which collectively account for 2.76 billion euros in investments. The annual results also show that the majority of new jobs are created within headquarters (2,259), followed by marketing & sales offices (1,834), distribution centers (1,053), service centers (977), production sites (884) and R&D locations (755). As illustration, sports media company DAZN established a development center in Amsterdam, Giant and Timberland expanded their European distribution locations (in Lelystad and Almelo respectively) and Mitsui Chemicals committed to producing plastics at the Chemelot Campus in Limburg.

The majority of ‘foreign jobs’ are, as in 2017, created by US companies. In 2018, this accounted for 3,185 jobs, with a total accompanying investment of 1.19 billion euros. Following the US is the United Kingdom (1,596 jobs), then China (614 jobs), Japan (580 jobs) and Germany (300 jobs).

More Brexit companies

In 2018, the Invest in Holland network brought 42 companies to the Netherlands as a result of Brexit, accounting for 1,923 jobs and some 291 million euros in investments. Companies signaling expansion of their offices in the Netherlands partly due to Brexit , include the Japanese investment bank Norinchukin and media company TVT Media. Financial services providers MarketAxess and Azimo, and maritime insurer UK P&I all announced office openings in our country last year,  due to  Brexit as well. The relocation of the European Medicines Agency(EMA) to Amsterdam, also supported by Invest in Holland, is included herein. In 2019, several companies, including Discovery and Bloomberg, have already announced their intention to invest in the Netherlands because of Brexit.

The number of companies relocating activities to our country due to Brexit has grown compared to 2017, during which 18 companies made a Brexit-related move to the Netherlands. Additionally, the NFIA is talking with more than 250 foreign companies considering setting up operations in the Netherlands following Brexit. These are predominantly British companies, but also American and Asian organizations that are reconsidering their current European structure due to uncertainties caused by Brexit. These include companies in the financial sector, media and advertising, life sciences & health and logistics. In addition to the Netherlands, these companies are also investigating options in other countries, including Germany, France and Ireland.

Since the establishment of the Invest in Holland network in 2015, the NFIA and its regional partners have attracted 1,402 companies to the Netherlands. This has resulted in a total direct inward investment of 8.1 billion euros and the creation of more than 43,000 jobs in the Netherlands. In addition to the NFIA, the Invest in Holland network comprises the regional development agencies: NOM, Oost NL, North-Holland North, amsterdam inbusiness, InnovationQuarter, The Hague Business Agency, Rotterdam Partners, Invest Utrecht, BOM, Invest in Zeeland, LIOF and HIDC.

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Brazilian company DEX sets up office in The Hague

During the event, The Brazilian company DEX (Driving Educational eXcellence), the first company to use the services of ‘Softlanding The Hague’, was also presented. DEX chose to set up their business at The Hague Tech Campus. DEX will conduct research and development for the Brazilian company Inteligência Relacional, market leader in emotional and social intelligence educational programs with a client portfolio of nearly 1 million students. Inteligencia Relacional was established in The Hague this year as well.

About “Softlanding The Hague”

The ‘Softlanding The Hague’-program is founded by The Hague TechThe Hague Business Agency, InnovationQuarter & WorldStartupFactory . It is a full-service soft-landing program offering startups a one-stop-shop for business expansion and soft-landing related services. It is setup for international Tech startups and scale-ups who are interested to get a taste of the Dutch market, who want to validate their product-market fit, have interest in meeting potential customers and partners and want to join an active Tech community in The Hague. The program is free of charge, tailor-made and open for startups and scale-ups in all phases.

Interested in joining?

Find more information, or register directly here or get in touch with Stef Prinsen.

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Challenging

ArianeGroup, which has the design authority and industrial lead for the Ariane 6 launcher development and operation on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA), appointed Airbus Netherlands partner for the development and production of the Ariane 6 Vulcain Aft Bay (VUAB) and the Vinci Thrust Frame (VITF) in June 2017. It led to the decision to build a dedicated industry 4.0 facility for the development and production of the Ariane 6 and also Vega-C structures. “Within 10 months, our state-of-the-art assembly facility has been built and equipped with innovative solutions, like a robotised production line and visualisation tools,” says Arnaud de Jong, managing director of Airbus Netherlands, “The smart factory is now fully ready to fulfil its challenging task and today’s opening is the crowning glory of a huge team effort. An effort which illustrates the clear mind-set to produce the new Ariane 6 engine frames in the most cost- and time-efficient way.”

InnovationQuarter has been involved in the process of finding a suitable location for the new Airbus production facility. “We are most happy with the expansion of Airbus,” says Niels Krol, senior accountmanager (Aero)space at InnovationQuarter. “It means a significant reinforcement for the space cluster in our region.”

Optimise logistics and assembly

To address the challenging commercial set-up of the European Ariane 6 programme, the Dutch space company Airbus chose a development and industrialisation approach that strikes a balance between heritage and the needed innovative green fields approach. This led to two key decisions to optimise the logistics and the assembly line:

  • The new site has a direct connection to the Rotterdam sea port, enabling safe and rapid transport of the large VUAB structure (5.4m diameter, 5.2m high) to ArianeGroup in Les Mureaux, France, for final assembly with the Ariane 6 launcher. The VITF engine frame will be transported to Bremen by road. Final stop for both engine frames is the European launch site Kourou in French Guyana.
  • The extended enterprise philosophy used by ArianeGroup towards its first tier partners was translated by Airbus Netherlands to its own supply chain. To gain maximum benefit, the main suppliers (and their machining facilities) are being integrated in the dedicated Ariane 6 facility, working as a shop-in-shop.

Industry 4.0

The facility is equipped with ‘Industry 4.0’ robotisation and automation capabilities, in order to be prepared for the anticipated production rates up to 24 engine frames (12 VUAB’s and 12 VITF’s) per year. Key elements of the industrialisation approach are:

  • Decision to have engineering and production go hand-in-hand;
  • Handling and assembly jig & tool concept based on a “flow process” instead of rigid and fixed-placed elements;
  • Implementation of smart manufacturing principles, including factory automation, implementation of a paperless factory and the application of lean flow principles.

 

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Delft hosted General Assembly of European aerospace cluster partnership

This was a perfect opportunity to show 37 aerospace organizations from 14 different countries the unique ecosystems in Delft and the West Holland region. The EACP exchanges information and knowledge between its partners and develops long-term transnational cooperation between clusters and companies. Lots of possibilities for cooperation between West Holland and other European regions were discussed on topics like earth observation (Lazio), UAV’s (Puglia) and cabin design (Hamburg).

10 reasons why West Holland is the hotspot for Aerospace

The spectacular atrium of Westcord hotel Delft was the central venue for the GA meeting. After a day of presentations and working groups, the members enjoyed a canal tour through the city centre. Special guest at the dinner in Wijnhaven was alderman Bas Vollebregt who welcomed the guests and elaborated on the strong aerospace footprint of the city.

The following day the participants visited TU Delft incubator YES!Delft and spoke to some aeronautic start-ups and scale-ups. In the afternoon they took a look at the World Horti Centre to learn about the mutual challenges both the aerospace and the horticulture industry face like robotization, sustainability, and use of new/durable energy.

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Space Campus Noordwijk launched during IAC Bremen

During the International Astronautical Conference (IAC) which was held in Bremen last week, some 16 Dutch space companies and organisations presented themselves in the NL Space booth. From these 16 exhibitors, 13 came from the West Holland region, showing that indeed some 80% of Dutch space activities take place in this region. Newcomer was Space Campus Noordwijk, launched and presented by the municipality of Noordwijk and the Province of Zuid-Holland.

10 reasons why West Holland is the hotspot for Space

Space Campus Noordwijk, just a stone’s throw from the ESA’s largest research facility ESTEC, will house dedicated facilities for testing small satellites and space instruments, a centre for earth observation data applications and training, a virtual laboratory in support of space engineering and a state-of-the-art makerspace for prototyping and small satellite production. For meetings, campus companies can use a completely new international meeting facility for space professionals, to be built on the ESTEC site.

The national government, the Province of Zuid-Holland and the Municipality of Noordwijk will invest over € 25 million in the development of Space Campus Noordwijk. ESTEC, the Galileo Reference Centre (GRC) and the Space Business Incubator Centre are partners in the project, as are many Dutch companies and institutions.

The IAC is the largest annual international space conference in the world, with an extensive exhibition attached to it. Space organizations and industry discuss future projects with each other and show the world the newest space-high-tech. Participating companies and knowledge institutes from the West Holland region were: Hyperion Technologies, Delft University of Technology, S [&] T, CGI, ATG, Airbus, Cosine, ISIS, TNO Space, Airborne, T-Minus Engineering, SatSearch, Dawn Aerospace, Space Campus Noordwijk, SpaceNed and The Netherlands Space Office (NSO).

On Tuesday evening NL-Space organized a VIP dinner for the participating Dutch delegates and their (potential) international clients. The event took place in the historical Handelskammer Bremen, and started with some inspiring words on the Dutch space footprint by Marc Hendrikse, Chairman topsector High Tech Systems & Materials, Mr. Wepke Kingma, Dutch Ambassador to Germany, Harm van de Wetering, Director Netherlands Space Office and Dutch astronaut André Kuipers.

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Bluefors at the TU Delft Campus

Bluefors sells cryostats that are needed to cool the quantum chips that are developed in Delft to extremely low temperatures. Quantum effects such as superposition and entanglement that are used in quantum computers only manifest themselves under these circumstances. At this moment there are chips of a few dozen qubits, the basic units of quantum computers, in a cryostat. If the technology will be further scaled up in the coming years, the cryostats will also need to be developed further.

Rob Blaauwgeers, CEO of Bluefors:

It is important for us to be able to design these new specifications with leading users and to benefit from each other’s knowledge. That is why we decided to carry out R&D close to the Delft research groups. In our new R&D lab we would like to collaborate with the Delft groups, but also with our other customers and partners from all over the world.

Ronald Hanson, scientific director, is delighted with the arrival of Bluefors: “I am happy to welcome Bluefors at the TU Delft Campus. It is an important step in our ambition to create a flourishing quantum hub here, that accelerates scientific, technological and market developments.”

Delft Quantum Campus

The Bluefors site is a new step towards a local ecosystem where not only students and researchers, but also companies work on this key technology of the future. Birch consultants has completed a feasibility study commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate and QuTech / TUD with the perspective of such an ecosystem, under the title: Q-campus: building a Quantum ecosystem in Delft. This report was presented to State Secretary Mona Keijzer during the InnovationExpo. Birch’s conclusion is that Delft has the potential to grow into one of the top quantum hubs in Europe with up to 900 direct jobs in 2023. It is up to the government, Delft University of Technology, the municipality of Delft, TNO and other regional stakeholders to take decisions about possible follow-up steps.

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ExRobotics - Robot voor inspectie en onderhoud NAM

The robots can read meters on equipment via video and audio recordings, ‘smell’ a gas leak, navigate independently between various installations and find their own way back to their docking station to recharge. This means that inspectors and operators no longer have to visit environments where there is a risk of explosions, greatly improving their work safety.

NAM plans to start using the first batch of 10 robots in Q4 2018, and hopes to eventually introduce this technology to all of its unmanned installations. NAM is the first producer in the oil and gas industry to use this technology on a large scale. The NAM robot is operated by remote control, but on 6 August 2018, ExRobotics presented its latest robotics breakthrough: an autonomous, line-following robot for industrial environments. This innovation was demonstrated by ExRobotics, TU Darmstadt and Shell at the Shell refinery in Pernis. The robot carries out inspections in the factory independently.

The greatest challenge lies not in building remote-controlled robots, but rather in obtaining the certification required before they can be put to work in an inflammable environment. The so-called ATEX/IECEx certification places high demands on the product and materials used. Many of the required certified materials cannot simply be purchased. The fact is, the ATEX/IECEx norms were devised for stationary installations that were not space or energy constrained. However, the ExRobotics robots are built from small, energy-efficient and mobile components. ExRobotics therefore had to develop all of the components itself before having them certified by a notified body in Chicago (UL). The ExRobotics organisation then also had to obtain certification in order to be permitted to produce the components. The company now possesses a unique combination of this certification and robotics expertise.

ExRobotics recently opened a new production facility in Delft, to facilitate the production and certification of their robots. ExRobotics selected West Holland as the location for their new facility because the robotics climate in the province has a great deal to offer with regard to R&D. InnovationQuarter, the province’s regional development agency, and the Municipality of Delft have offered advice and support to help ExRobotics select a suitable location. The new production facility is located close to TU Delft and RoboValley. ExRobotics is looking forward to a fruitful exchange of knowledge and experiences with these two knowledge partners. The company currently has 10 employees, but anticipates strong growth in the years ahead, representing a major boost to the ecosystem in West Holland.

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Cargo bikes without a driver (Droids) and drones in the sky that pick up cargo from a smart hub and then deliver it to your doorstep. According to Geeba this will be the solution to the expensive last stage of local delivery within cities. This newest innovation aims to disrupt last-mile logistics and is to cut the expenses for e-commerce companies significantly. Two companies, originally from Qatar, bundled their forces in a joint venture: Geeba. Airlift provides the autonomous surface vehicles, N-gon supplies the drones for transport through the air, and Geeba develops the blockchain technology that will connect all the autonomous vehicles through an online platform. The droids are expected to have a radius of 35 kilometers with a speed of 25 km/h and a maximum cargo load of 40 kg.

There is room to experiment in Holland

Airlift and Geeba chose The Netherlands to develop their innovation for a reason. “In Qatar there is not much room to experiment,” says Geeba CEO Ahmed Mohamedali. “As a startup you have to go through a rigmarole to get approval for testing your product.” In Holland, especially West-Holland, the government is more lenient towards innovation and experiment. “For instance, the process of getting approval for the testing of our vehicles from the government runs smoothly. Furthermore, West-Holland has a strong robotics and blockchain ecosystem, and the connection to the rest of the European market is strong. Those were the motives for us to establish our offices here,” according to the CEO of Geeba.

Rotterdam as a business location

Ahmed Mohamedali had good reasons for choosing the city of Rotterdam with its strong tradition in manufacturing. Both the Geeba and the Airlift offices are based in the Cambridge Innovation Centre (CIC). Airlift and Geeba both received a startup visa, a temporary residence permit for ambitious starters from abroad. The visa is valid for a maximum of one year. During this next year Airlift will get the opportunity to further develop their business and innovation in cooperation with Geeba and with help from their facilitator CIC.

The companies have been assisted by the Invest in Holland partners the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), InnovationQuarter and Rotterdam Partners.

Future plans

Airlift is aiming to deploy more than 100 of its robots and smart hubs within the next 9 months. For this the team needs to grow to 19 engineering and business employees. Geeba is planning to double the team – which currently exists of 10 different nationalities – in the next year, to be able to further develop the blockchain technology needed for the logistics and launch the commercial pilot in the Netherlands.

Tombstone voor Geeba en Airlift Systems in CIC Rotterdam | © Verkijk

Tombstone voor Geeba en Airlift Systems in CIC Rotterdam | © Verkijk

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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.