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In recent years, we’ve seen Field Labs popping up in many places and on many subjects. Many are or want to be financed by governments. Some blossom, others barely survive, many silently disappear. Why and when should anyone build a Field Lab, and what’s needed to become successful?

The best, if not only, reason to start a Field Lab or a comparable open-innovation facility is to move a breakthrough technology to industrial application. That is a complex process, because companies do not have the knowledge to fully grasp the advantages and intricacies of the breakthrough technology, lack the facilities to test it and the staff to implement it. Meanwhile, the people who developed it don’t have the market and domain knowledge to understand the real implications, problems, failures and drawbacks of their beautiful new technology. Companies and developers need to work together and be willing to learn from each other.

There are other options, of course, to take a new technology to market, for instance by starting a technology-driven start-up. Or a large company essentially buying the technology and its developers. Neither are fail-safe and both are usually slow and address only one ‘killer’ market.

A Field Lab can more effectively speed up industrial application when several industrial SMEs and Midcaps (250-1000 staff members) participate, especially if these companies are active in different domains. For this to happen, the Field Lab at the very least must feature experts, facilities, several potential users, education partners and it must be open to more experts and partners.

To increase the likelihood of success of a new Field Lab, many more conditions need to be met. To mention just a few: sufficient regional industrial and technology base, sufficient interest from all stakeholder categories mentioned above, no competing Field Labs close by, clarity on objectives, outcomes and results, independence to ensure agility and flexibility and so on.

Building a Field Lab is by no means easy. It takes time, money and stamina – and success is as likely as it is for a start-up. In fact, a new Field Lab in many ways is a start-up.

In my experience, there would have been better alternatives for most Field Labs, such as cooperating or joining forces with existing Field Lab. Or start a project, program or e-learning initiative or build a demonstrator lab. For example: at Innovationquarter, we planned to build a Field Lab for the adoption of exoskeletons by SMEs with manufacturing operations, only to discover that most SMEs could not afford to send their staff to such a facility, losing valuable production time. However, on-site pilot testing of exoskeletons was warmly welcomed. In fact, it was even more valuable as more staff members could participate in the trial run and they did so under real production conditions.

A Field Lab is not the solution to all problems and in many cases is overkill. If you want to start a Field Lab: think twice. If you want to finance a Field Lab: think trice. And if you want to join a Field lab: **look** twice. Is it really a Field Lab, or is it in fact (as often is the case), a demonstrator or educational facility or a closed project that happens to be called a ‘Field Lab’. Each and every of such initiatives can be very valuable, but they don’t deliver what a real Field Lab can deliver The price tag should take that into account.

Also published by: Bits&Chips

Want to read more? Download Innovationquarter’s whitepaper ‘How to build a successful Field Lab’.

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Feel free to contact us.

Anton Duisterwinkel

Senior Business Developer High Tech / Program Manager SMITZH
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50 deals in 5 years. Since its launch in 2016, the South-Holland proof-of-concept fund UNIIQ has become one of the most successful early-stage funds in Europe. After 50 deals, 96% of the UNIIQ startups still exist and the companies collectively already raised over €125m in follow-on funding. €1 from UNIIQ generates over €10 in follow-on funding. And that is an unprecedentedly high multiplier. Seven complete exits have already taken place and 418 jobs have been created. This makes UNIIQ the springboard to a successful scale-up. UNIIQ startups are also known for their impact: they make the world cleaner, smarter and healthier.

UNIIQ proves: in this phase you can invest very successfully

UNIIQ was founded in 2016 to bridge the riskiest phase from concept to promising company (as early as TRL-3). UNIIQ invests heavily in deep tech propositions – about 80% of the portfolio, almost always involving a hardware component – and in life sciences. These are high-risk, high-tech investments, often with a long payback period, which the market does not yet dare to enter. UNIIQ proves that you can still invest successfully in this risky phase.

UNIIQ companies make the world cleaner, smarter and healthier

The companies in which UNIIQ has invested are known for making the world cleaner, smarter and healthier. For example, batteries deliver 70% more energy thanks to LeydenJar’s unique technology, quantum research became accessible to smaller companies thanks to Quantware’s unique processors, and Oceans of Energy laid the world’s first offshore solar system in the North Sea.

Mayht was sold to Sonos for $100 mln.

“With us, the most unique, world-leading technologies see the first light of day, thanks in part to our university partners,” says fund manager Hans Dreijklufft. “Recently, our portfolio company Mayht was sold to Sonos for $100 mln. When the brothers came to us, you could still see the duct tape on the prototype, so to speak. We often see the potential of unique technology at a very early stage. And thanks to our large network of (inter)national investors, we also manage to attract follow-on funding for our companies.”

Production robots do 40% more work, and much more accurately

It is the ‘heart’ of the robot, the power drive. Robotics is developing at a rapid pace and yet the transmission systems – the parts that make the robot move – have hardly changed in the past 50 years. As a result, robots remain relatively heavy, complex, uncontrollable and expensive to this day. With the Archimedes Drive, IMSystems introduced the first major breakthrough in transmission systems in half a century. The ‘heart’ of the robot now functions with far greater precision, transferring power much more efficiently, in a more compact size and at lower cost. This makes the movements of robots more precise, more powerful and more controllable. With this drive, a production robot can do up to 40% more work in the same time. IMSystems received an investment from UNIIQ and later follow-on funding through another InnovationQuarter fund, IQCapital.

Hans Dreijklufft

Fund Manager UNIIQ


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QuantWare has secured a €650,000 investment from proof-of-concept fund UNIIQ, investment fund FORWARD.one and angel investors. With investments of Rabobank and Quantum Delta NL, and having been granted both a regional and a European subsidy, the company has over 1 million Euro to spend on its development. QuantWare will use the investment to further develop its technology, which significantly increases the computational power of quantum processors, and to produce and deliver their standardized quantum processors with exceptionally short delivery times. By making quantum processors more readily available to quantum researchers and start-ups, quantum research can be accelerated. This brings commercialisation of the quantum computer another step closer to reality. The UNIIQ-investment was announced via video by Freeke Heijman from Quantum Delta NL and Kees Eijkel from Delft University of Technology.

QuantWare founders Matthijs (L) and Alessandro (R) – Photo by Rebekka Mell

The power of quantum computers

Quantum computing is regarded as the holy grail of solving problems that regular computers cannot solve. The race is therefore on to deliver the first commercial quantum computer. The ‘heart’ of the quantum computer consists of the quantum processor, which computes with quantum-bits or qubits. In contrast to the bits of a regular computer, qubits can simultaneously have a value of 1 and 0. This means that quantum computers can perform calculations beyond the realm of their traditional counterparts and could take mere minutes to solve problems that would take regular computers millions of years. They would be ideal for conducting research into new medicines or materials, for example.

Quantum hardware not yet sufficiently available or self-produced

There are still hurdles to overcome before quantum computers can be commercialised. Access to certain hardware is essential for advancing quantum research, specifically quantum processors and related technology. However, hardware is still insufficiently available and has to be supplied by ‘friendly’ research facilities, or researchers have to learn the skills to produce it themselves. Delivery times and learning curves of six months or longer are not uncommon, which eats up valuable time in this rapidly evolving field. In addition, the computational power of current processors is limited and a solution has not yet been found to sufficiently increase the capacity for use in a commercial quantum computer.

A “Soprano” QPU from QuantWare

QuantWare’s standardised and scalable quantum processors

QuantWare originated at QuTech, the quantum research facility founded by Delft University of Technology and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). Possessing extensive experience in quantum research, the QuantWare team has specialised in the development of quantum hardware that is scalable and rapidly deliverable while meeting customers’ (often researchers) needs. The company’s primary focus is to deliver standardised quantum processors so that research can be reproduced by multiple parties, thereby accelerating progress in the field as a whole. As part of the ImpaQT-consortium, a collaboration between 6 private parties, QuantWare contributes by supplying their quantum processors, to ultimately have a so-called NISQ-computer ready to pilot by the end of this year. This brings quantum computing another step closer to commercialisation.

QuantWare will use the investment to scale up production of quantum processors and related hardware, such as amplifiers, and to further develop its innovative technologies which exponentially boost computational power of their processors.

Alessandro Bruno, co-founder of QuantWare, is delighted with the capital injection and says: “The support from UNIIQ, FORWARD.One, Quantum Delta NL and Rabobank will help us bring our quantum processors to market. This will make quantum technology accessible to many more parties, resulting in a crucial contribution to the Dutch quantum ecosystem.”

Hans Dreijklufft, UNIIQ fund manager, notes: “Quantum technology has enormous potential to solve problems that have been insurmountable so far. We are incredibly proud that this investment in QuantWare will enable us to again stimulate a company originating from the strong regional QuTech-Quantum Delft ecosystem, and are delighted that on a national level, Quantum Delta shows support by investing in QuantWare from their Lightspeed fund. Our investment and the support of the quantum ecosystem allows QuantWare to develop at a high pace, thereby indirectly supporting the broader quantum research field in further developing quantum technologies.”

Paul Pruijmboom, partner FORWARD.one: “We’re impressed with the QuantWare team and the company’s innovative technology. The market for quantum computing shows huge potential, and QuantWare delivers a crucial element to speed up development of this market. We are pleased to support QuantWare and the development of high tech in the Netherlands in general from our new €100m investment fund”.

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The Hague, January 21st – DeNoize, a Delft-based start-up receives a €200.000 investment from UNIIQ. This investment enables the company to further develop and validate its active noise cancellation technology for homes and offices. Hassan Charaf, Head of Innovation at Royal Schiphol Group announced the investment digitally.

Noise as a source for health issues

With our growing population and densification of cities, noise is frequently cited as one of the biggest problems in urban life. People living close to the airports and busy roads complain that they can never relax due to the intrusive sounds. Their experiences are reflected in higher levels of annoyance, mental ill-health and increasing risk of cardiovascular diseases. Existing measures such as double glazed windows or noise barriers are only effective in mitigating the mid-to-high frequencies. The most problematic low-frequency noise remains unchallenged. Current alternatives are therefore insufficient in protecting our city inhabitants from the impact of noise pollution. In the Netherlands alone, over a million people are affected by outdoor noise with a few hundred thousand inhabitants encountering severe sleep disturbance. Thus, resulting in approximately 800 directly related cases of heart disease.

Smart windows with active noise cancellation

Windows are normally the weakest link in  insulating our homes and offices, especially against the low-frequency noises. DeNoize has developed an active noise cancellation technology to remove this limitation, making our windows more resilient against the outdoor noise. DeNoize works on the principal of counter vibrating the glass to cancel the incoming noise. By predicting the glass vibrations as a reaction to the outdoor noise, and by mirroring such movements, DeNoize is able to decrease the indoor noise levels by up to 90%. In the coming months, DeNoize aims to implement its first prototype in collaboration with, among others, Amsterdam airport Schiphol.

Aman Jindal, DeNoize CEO: “The UNIIQ investment allows us to gather strong technical and market validation for DeNoize. This will enable us to implement our system in a real-life pilot by 2022. Until then the technology needs to be developed further, which is why we’re happy to raise the investment at this stage.”

Investing with a long-term perspective

For UNIIQ the investment in DeNoize means an expansion of the Delft portfolio. Fund manager Hans Dreijklufft: “It’s often difficult for companies working on disruptive innovations to raise funding at this early stage. As UNIIQ, we’re proud to support these companies in their first steps towards delivering a proof-of-concept and ultimately commercially launching their product. DeNoize’s technology targets a serious and increasing societal problem that has received more attention over the past few years. Decreasing noise, especially at home in big cities or in an office alongside a busy road does not only increase comfort but in some cases determines quality of life”.

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This year, online ordering has reached an unprecedented level. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the e-commerce market had been showing rapid growth globally. But if online retailers and delivery services are to continue to benefit from this trend, innovation is essential. Plotwise has therefore developed innovative AI-based planning software and vendors like Coolblue, PostNL, and Red je Pakketje are already using this technology to plan smart, customized deliveries. The Delft-based scale-up is striving to improve the safety, sustainability, and efficiency of home delivery and has secured an investment from the South Holland energy innovation fund ENERGIIQ to further expand and scale up its services.

“The way we move people and goods throughout the world has always fascinated me,” says company founder Michel Boerrigter, who developed several other planning platforms while at TU Delft. “Until recently, parcel delivery was primarily a B2B service. Because we now order so much as a society, things have changed very quickly. Today, deliveries need to be customer-centric, based on home delivery with many more destinations.” 

The final step in the supply chain, the last mile, is a major bottleneck for the e-commerce market, accounting for 30 to 55 percent of total delivery costs. As the e-commerce market expands, vehicle movements are increasing, resulting in more CO2 emissions and traffic congestion. 

Established at the end of 2018 from a TU Delft spin-off, Plotwise focuses on minimizing the social impacts of last-mile delivery. 


“With this investment, we are contributing to the automatization and optimization of an increasingly complex process and therefore to more sustainable parcel delivery.”

 – ENERGIIQ fund manager, Rafael Koene

Delivery planning as part of the ordering process

Many delivery services still use traditional static planning with routes determined only several times a year based on zip codes. Even when the volume of parcels changes, the route remains the same. 

Michel Boerrigter: “Traditional planning works for B2B transport but is less suitable for individual customer deliveries. There are too many complexities, and the logistical puzzle has too many pieces. As a result, there are major differences between calmer and busier periods, leading to inefficient routes and time pressure.”

Plotwise therefore focuses on optimizing delivery flow as part of the ordering process. 

Michel explains, “It makes delivery more dynamic. If you order something online, you immediately receive a number of delivery options based on the traffic, other scheduled deliveries in the neighborhood, and the most efficient mode of transport, such as a van or a delivery e-bike. As we make customers aware of the options and their consequences, we can influence behavior and encourage more efficient, sustainable choices.”

Up to 20 percent CO2 reduction per parcel

Clients already using the Plotwise software secure a competitive advantage through cost savings, improvements in service quality, and opportunities to capitalize on evolving expectations and demand. Plotwise also makes a significant contribution to sustainability: with fewer vehicle miles traveled, CO2 emissions per parcel have been reduced by up to 20 percent.

Meanwhile, electric vehicles are replacing diesel-based transport. This is partly due to the establishment of zero-emission zones as part of the climate agreement, which means that by 2030 all delivery vans and trucks in these designated areas must be entirely emission-free. 

Michel says, “Although an increase in the number of electric vehicles naturally leads to huge CO2 reductions, the efficient planning of available and permitted vehicles is required as well to prevent time pressure, delays, unsafe situations, and traffic congestion. With electric vehicles, you must also deal with other technical factors when planning, including recharging time and available charging capacities. Even if delivery services start using electric vehicles, smart planning is essential.”    

Hyper-scalable internationally

Thanks to ENERGIIQ’s investment, Plotwise plans a significant international scale up in the next three years along with an expansion of its team. 

“We’re already active in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany,” says Michel. “That’s the beauty of our service: it’s hyper-scalable.” 

ENERGIIQ fund manager Rafael Koene agrees: “Plotwise has the momentum to scale up rapidly. Due to the strong growth of e-commerce, reinforced by the coronavirus pandemic, delivery planning is increasingly complex. This impacts logistics service provider operations. The team at Plotwise has the right skills and mindset to meet the organizational challenges involved in scaling up. At ENERGIIQ, we look forward to a valuable collaboration.”

That collaboration entails more than just financial assistance to help Plotwise realize its ambitions. Michel says, “ENERGIIQ has a lot of expertise in this area and offers valuable support in scaling up, not least through access to its large network. This will allow us to develop even faster and expand our market.”

Would you like to learn more?

Please do not hesitate to get in touch!

Jesse In ‘t Velt

Senior Investment Manager ENERGIIQ
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€1 mln. voor HR Tech startup Equalture die teams optimaliseert door diversiteit

Rotterdam startup Equalture has secured a €1m investment from InnovationQuarter and 4impact. The investment will enable the company to expand its team and scale up its customer base. Equalture provides SaaS recruitment solutions for fast-growing companies. By predicting the success of each applicant, it can objectively determine best-fit candidates for a position and optimise a diverse team composition. Equalture was founded by twin sisters Charlotte and Fleur Melkert.

€1 mln. voor HR Tech startup Equalture die teams optimaliseert door diversiteit

Better hiring decisions thanks to artificial intelligence

Equalture aims to help build top performing teams by predicting optimal composition and preventing ‘bad hires’. Their recruitment solution ensures an unbiased selection of candidates by using algorithms, gamification and artificial intelligence to predict the success of a candidate in a given position and within a team. In addition to the usual criteria of education, work experience and competencies, cognitive skills are also tested to evaluate personality and cultural fit.

On average, the success rate of the hiring process is around 25%. The remaining 75% of people hired turn out to be a mediocre to poor match within a role or a team. A poor hiring decision can cost a firm 1.3x the annual salary per employee, plus the delays in successfully fulfilling the position.

Promoting diversity through fact-based recruitment

Diverse teams, in terms of skills, backgrounds, personalities, gender and other factors, generate on average 19% more turnover than homogenous teams. As Equalture’s algorithms are unbiased and allow for blind recruitment, subjective characteristics that often unconsciously influence the selection process are eradicated. This objective hiring helps employers achieve diversity in their teams and grow their company.

The self-learning nature of the algorithms used to create the Equalture software solution ensures that the quality of the matching profile constantly improves and results in a more efficient and accurate hiring process. Moreover, the inclusion of gamification in the first step of the application process makes this an innovative recruitment experience for applicants. These neuro-assessment games map a candidate’s skills, intelligence and personality traits. To help predict a good cultural fit, the team which the recruited candidate will join is also tested, mapped and included in the score of the matching profile as are relevant industry benchmarks.

Equalture is the second recruitment sector company that Charlotte and Fleur Melkert have co-founded. The sisters launched Equalture during their studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Since successfully optimising its software for upscaling, the company has expanded to five countries and has seen its customer base grow rapidly.

Charlotte Melkert, CEO of Equalture:

“The investment by 4impact and InnovationQuarter will enable us to achieve our international growth targets. We are delighted that both 4impact and InnovationQuarter have placed their confidence in us. Due to the combined experience of these funds, we now have the necessary tools to turn our ambitions into results.”

€1 mln. voor HR Tech startup Equalture die teams optimaliseert door diversiteit

Liduina Hammer, head of investments at InnovationQuarter: “It’s great to see two young entrepreneurs having such an impact by applying AI to recruitment, enabling their customers to select job candidates without bias. Among other things, this helps promote diversity within the labour market. With this investment, InnovationQuarter is also contributing to the objectives of the FundRight statement signed on 19 May to boost women-led entrepreneurship in the Netherlands.”

Ali Najafbagy, 4impact managing partner: “Equipped with a highly scalable SaaS model, Equalture contributes to three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: gender equality, decent work and economic growth and reduced inequalities. It’s an excellent combination of tech4good, which we at 4impact strongly endorse, and a win‑win for both companies and candidates. 4impact has a unique background in the HR industry and we are incredibly enthusiastic about Equalture’s exceptionally driven and ambitious team.”

€1 mln. voor HR Tech startup Equalture die teams optimaliseert door diversiteit

FundRight ambassador His Royal Highness Prince Constantijn van Oranje:

“Equalture helps strengthen diversity by eliminating implicit hiring biases in selection algorithms. Techleap.nl congratulates our #FundRight partners InnovationQuarter and 4impact on this investment.”

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LINQ, InnovationQuarter’s annual get-together

LINQ, InnovationQuarter’s annual get-together

LINQ, InnovationQuarter’s annual get-together

Some 90 representatives of foreign companies & organizations attended this year’s LINQ, InnovationQuarter’s annual get-together for our the international business community in this region. In the industrial setting of Lijm & Cultuur, a former factory, attendees were able to meet new and relevant (business) contacts and heard the deputy mayor speak about the rich innovative ecosystem of Delft.

During the ‘Innovation Tour’ participants were able to see and touch eight cutting-edge innovations from this region. Please find their links here:

LINQ, InnovationQuarter’s annual get-together

For a LINQ recap in photos, please visit our online Flickr-page.

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Idris Oncology one of first companies to receive free human tissue through Codex4SME’s

The Leiden based biotechnology firm Idris Oncology is one of the three SME’s in Europe to receive human tissue through the Codex4SME’s consortium, in order to help them progress their diagnostic product towards clinical application.

Read our story on the transition to personalized medicine here! (in Dutch)

“It is always hard for SME’s to obtain human samples of any kind,” says Idris CEO and founder Hans Peter Mulder. “That’s why we are so happy with the support from Codex4SME’s and its regional partner InnovationQuarter. What has really speeded Idris’ product development is the fact that Codex4SME’s also covers the costs and assists with the supply form BioBank Graz. This way we can treat cancer better.”

“I’m very happy that Idris was one of the first to obtain these free samples* as it will help making cancer treatment to become more personalized,” says Stéfan Ellenbroek, senior business developer Life Sciences and Health at InnovationQuarter. “There are currently a couple of other Zuid-Holland companies in discussion with the BioBank Graz for prospective tissue collection, but I also urge the rest of the ecosystem to check out this nice chance as the vouchers for free samples are limited in amount. Any companies with questions can contact me!”

Idris Oncology one of first companies to receive free human tissue through Codex4SME’s

*Costs covered through the Codex4SME’s Inttereg NWE grant. All tissues are obtained with informed consent.

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In 2018, InnovationQuarter helped 53 (foreign) companies to open an office or expand their activities in West Holland. This included many advanced, technological companies such as GenScript (China), Magnet Forensics (Canada) and GE Healthcare (US). These enterprises are expected to create or retain more than 1,100 jobs and will invest €214 million in the region. The 53 firms represent a record for InnovationQuarter across its five-year history. In 2017, 50 foreign companies established themselves in the region with the agency’s assistance.

United States and China strongly represented, Canada on the rise

Most foreign companies that made a new or additional investment in West Holland in 2018 came from the United States (11) and China (11). This is in line with the trend of recent years, with most firms hailing from these two countries.

However, Canadian companies are increasingly aware of InnovationQuarter and West Holland as a relocation destination. In 2018, four firms from Canada chose to establish a base in the region with the agency’s assistance. One way by which InnovationQuarter supports these companies is through soft landing initiatives, organised in close collaboration with the Canadian Embassy and other parties. A very promising enterprise now established in The Hague thanks to such a soft landing programme is Magnet Forensics, a cybersecurity company from Toronto with a focus on digital forensic research.

Carl Tinker, sales director at Magnet Forensics, says:

Initially, we had the UK in mind for our EMEA headquarters. That was until InnovationQuarter introduced us to the Dutch Ministry of Justice, numerous potential partners and The Hague Security Delta. As the Netherlands offers much better access to the European market than the UK and with Brexit coming up, we decided to base ourselves in The Hague.

We interviewed Magnet Forensics for our annual report, TerugblIQ 2018. Here you can read the article!

Advanced technology sectors

Companies that have opted for the West Holland region are highly innovative and technologically advanced. They especially operate in the life sciences, (cyber) security, high-tech and IT, sustainable energy and horticulture sectors, in line with and as a valuable addition to the top-quality ecosystem that our region offers in these areas.

Chris van Voorden, InnovationQuarter’s Director of Foreign Investments and Internationalisation, says:

We have extensive contact with international companies and it is clear they are increasingly seeking a well-developed, regional ecosystem. For this reason, our service is not simply focused on finding the right location for an office or factory; it’s much more about accessing the relevant network, technology and talent. West Holland is increasingly able to offer access to these resources and our 2018 results clearly show our efforts are paying off.

Arrival of the European Medicines Agency

With 13 companies, life sciences is the best represented sector among the enterprises that InnovationQuarter supported last year. This sector encompasses both biomedical and medical technology firms. One of the reasons for the strong interest in the region from foreign biomedical companies is the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) relocation to the Netherlands as a result of the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union. The EMA is a significant addition to the country’s life sciences and health ecosystem and helps make the Netherlands an attractive location for international companies in these sectors.

There is significant interest not only from biomedical companies but from medical technology businesses as well. GE Healthcare’s new base in Rotterdam and that of 10x Genomics in Leiden are examples of this.


The political uncertainty surrounding Brexit has been an important factor in many companies’ investment decisions. Firms expect Brexit to have a major impact on their operational management and are therefore taking precautions to mitigate its effects. For now, this mainly involves changes to international legal structures and the transfer of certain business activities. Companies that are highly dependent on the logistics chain are also taking precautionary measures.

The extent to which enterprises expect to be affected by Brexit varies from sector to sector and uncertainty regarding the shape that Brexit will take remains an issue. Many companies have thus indicated that, while they are considering various scenarios, their final investment decisions will be postponed until there is more certainty regarding the future relationship between the UK and the European Union.

Results significant for both regional and national economies

Attracting and retaining foreign investment is of great importance to both the Netherlands and the West Holland region, not least in terms of economic growth and job creation. The 53 international companies supported in 2018 will, by their own estimate, provide 1,113 jobs within three years: 853 of them new and 260 retained. In addition, these firms are jointly investing € 214 million in the region.

Successful national and regional collaboration

Strong national and regional collaboration is part of the reason for the success of these 53 investment projects. At the national level, InnovationQuarter works closely with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) – an operational unit of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy – and is a partner of the Invest in Holland network. At the regional level, InnovationQuarter has worked closely with Rotterdam Partners and The Hague Business Agency on both strategic and operational levels since 2014.

Wat kunnen wij voor u betekenen?

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Chris van Voorden

Head of Internationalization
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In Rotterdam, Leiden en Delft almost 60 representatives took part in an intensive programme with the ambition to learn, connect and cooperate. Their meetings covered innovations in medtech healthcare, biomedical engineering, automated transport and sustainable mobility. 

Life Sciences & Health programme 


At the Life Sciences & Health hub in the Rotterdam Science Tower, the delegation was introduced to the West Holland Life Sciences and Health cluster and discovered why more and more (international) medtech companies choose Rotterdam as their European base.  

How companies and governments work together on the medicine of the future within the Medical Delta scientific programmes, was explained by Prof. Dr. Ir. Ton van der Steen, head of Biomedical Engineering at institutes Medical Center and chairman of Medical Delta.  Medical Delta is a network of life sciences, health and technology organizations driven by the cooperation between Leiden University, Erasmus University, Technical University of Delft, Erasmus Medical Center and Leiden University Medical Center.  

From a regional perspective the topic moved into healthcare innovations happening in and around the Erasmus Medical Center. Nathalie Popken from the Erasmus MC Technology Transfer Office gave examples of different healthcare innovations that often emerge from the working floor of the hospital. One example is the robotic bedwash-central that reduces the amount of water needed to clean a hospital bed from 30 to 6 liters and greatly reduces the amount of chemicals.  

3 Rotterdam companies presented their innovations to the delegation;  

  • Rotterdam Science Tower residents Omnigen, a bioinformatics company doing biomarker discovery and DNA testing for business and consumers;  
  • SurGuide , a medical device company aiming at improving cancer care by supporting oncologic surgeons in their strife for complete tumor removal.  
  • Australian medtech productdesign company IDE recently started their European office in Rotterdam and explained how they develop new healthcare innovations and start-ups together to build better futures for patients.  


In Delft, the group visited the world-renowned business incubator YES!Delft, where they met with representatives from Delft University of Technology, YES!Delft and several companies. During a lunch-and-learn session they learned about the TU Delft Health Initiative, RoboValley, and the work performed by the Biomechanical Engineering group of the faculty 3ME. Lastly, the group had a tour in the incubator itself, and learned about how the Delft School of Incubation is brought into practice.  


After the tour in Rotterdam and Delft the Four Motors delegation visited the Leiden Bio Science Park. Pieter Reitsma, Founder of VarmX, and Niall Hodgins, CEO of SeraNovo, presented their exciting startup companies. The delegation toured the Biopartner flexible office and lab facilities and  the day ended with networking drinks before heading to the airport.    

Mobility programme 

The Mobility delegation started in the morning at CIC in Rotterdam. Quirijn Oudshoorn (Municipality of Rotterdam) informed the delegation about the status and future plans of the city of Rotterdam with regard to electric mobility. The city is not only looking for more, but also better and smarter solutions and is setting up pilots to test new solutions such as wireless charging and plaza’s with multiple chargepoints. In order to work with startups that have good solutions improve mobility in the city, Rotterdam has set up the Rotterdam Mobility Lab. This platform provides startups with a good solution for urban mobilty a chance to test. Niki Sie of Juuve, one of the alumni of the program informed the delegation of the shared mobility solution the company provides. Their solution provides easy access to users for make use of a car without owning one, thereby also reducing the amount of vehicles in a city.    

Next stop: the Park Shuttle at Rivium Business park. Here they have been making use of autonomous shuttles for public transport for 20 years. This was the first, and until now, the only place to do this in the world. The project is aiming to expand the area it covers and the plans for expansion were shared with the delegation. A rare view into the control room was also provided in order give the delegation a complete insight into the operation of the shuttle.    


Lunch was enjoyed at Connekt in Delft. Tom van Dam of this network organization for smart and sustainable mobility gave an explanation on their work. With their extensive member base, Connekt is able to provide valuable contacts in the Dutch market for the Four Motors delegation. As Connekt also works at providing the Dutch mobility sector a platform in other markets via the Smart Mobility Embassy (SME), Jose Oudijk of Connekt explained the role of SME. After lunch the delegation moved to the Green Village at the TU Delft. At the Green Village the Researchlab Autonomous Driving Delft (RADD) performs research, but is also able to provide a testing area for autonomous transport. Rissan Slaghek explained what the focus is of RADD and the research topics they are working on. As the region is keen to implement these solutions, Britt Doornekamp of MRDH (Metropolitan Region Rotterdam The Hague) explained how the regional authorities are backing these initiatives through policy and with financial means.  

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European approach of the energy transition

SET Fund III invests in European early growth-stage companies that can impact the future of the energy markets worldwide. With this fund in fund investment, ENERGIIQ accelerates the transition towards clean energy and makes sure that Zuid-Holland is in the picture of European investors and entrepreneurs. It also ensures that ENERGIIQ is actively involved in European energy innovation developments.

ENERGIIQ is one of the investors in this third fund of SET Ventures, and joined forces with European Investment Fund, Korys, PTT Group Thailand, Shell Ventures, BNP Paribas, Sitra and BOM Brabant Ventures to make SET Fund III possible.

SET Fund III will primarily focus on companies that work on balancing the electricity grid, energy distribution and storage or energy saving.

Collaboration in knowledge and capital

Rene Savelsberg, Managing Partner SET Ventures: “We are very pleased with ENERGIIQ’S participation in SET Fund III. It is clear that ENERGIIQ, managed by InnovationQuarter, has a lot to offer to early growth stage companies impacting the future energy system based in the province of Zuid-Holland or those that want to land sufficient relevant business in the region. ENERGIIQ reflects our vision that focussing with deep understanding of the granularities of the energy sector will lead to the best investment decisions. Together we will contribute substantially to the reduction of CO2 both in the region as well as on a European level.”

Nienke Vledder, fund manager at ENERGIIQ:

Our investment in SET Fund III supports our search for technology that contributes to the energy transition in Zuid-Holland.

“In addition, the SET Ventures team is well-established and up to date on developments regarding energy transition. Warm ties with a reputable partner such as SET Ventures is valuable to energy companies in Zuid-Holland with both knowledge and capital.”

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F.L.T.R. Chris van Voorden, Director Foreign Investments InnovationQuarter, Chris Heunis, Managing Director CampusKey Europe, Paul Dirkse, Deputy Mayor of Leiden, Leon Howell, Managing Director CampusKey SA, Neno Haasbroek, Co-Founder CampusKey, Niels Krol, Account Manager InnovationQuarter, Antoin van Rensburg, Co-Founder CampusKey (Foto © Daniel Verkijk)

Expanding to Europe

Since the start of CampusKey in 2012, they have successfully developed student housing facilities in six university cities and currently house 3749 students. Their main focus will be on international students and the concept therefore includes a couple of distinctive features that sets this formula apart from others.

There is a strong focus on safety and security within the building, using finger recognition technology to enter the premises and rooms. They also offer 24-hour counselling and mentoring services to students who are in immediate need for help or guidance, far away from family and friends. The main purpose of CampusKey is to create ‘a home away from home’, which means activities for residents are organized on a weekly base, so students can meet up, interact and make new friends.

Leiden is not only relevant as a student city, but it also has quick access to Schiphol Airport, with the rest of Europe in easy reach.- Chris Heunis, Managing Director of CampusKey Europe

CampusKey was assisted in setting up the Dutch operations in Leiden by the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, InnovationQuarter and the City of Leiden.

Team CampusKey: Chris Heunis, Leon Howell, Neno Haasbroek and Antoin van Rensburg (Foto © Daniel Verkijk)

CampusKey Co-Founder Neno Haasbroek: “As the South African market is now well served by our concept, we decided last year that it would be interesting to look into expanding to the European market. Our preliminary research was very promising and we believe there is a lot of potential in Europe, especially when you look at the tremendous increase of foreign students coming to Europe.”

Deputy Mayor of Leiden, Paul Dirkse is happy and proud that yet another South African company has chosen Leiden for the location of their European headquarters: “Being the oldest university city in The Netherlands and one of the oldest in Europe, I can fully understand their decision to locate to Leiden! I’m sure the expertise CampusKey has built up over the years in South Africa in creating ‘a home away from home’ will be of added value for students and student cities throughout Europe.”

Besides historical ties and a similar language, The Netherlands was especially chosen for its comparable business mentality, which is, like in South Africa, also based on cooperation, openness and straightforwardness, says Chris Heunis, Managing Director of CampusKey Europe: “Leiden is not only relevant as a student city, but it also has quick access to Schiphol Airport, with the rest of Europe in easy reach”.

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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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Scheltema’s warm industrial look of dark-brown wood and faded steel gave the atmosphere at LINQ an informal and friendly character. Attending entrepreneurs were paired into smaller groups with other entrepreneurs, so that getting in touch with peers and potential partners was easier. The groups then received demonstrations of eight of West Holland’s cutting-edge technologies on the innovation floor:

  • TWNKLS, a known name even in Silicon circles, presented the world’s most successful non-game augmented reality app. With a toy car they demonstrated how their technology helps Lamborgini mechanics to decompose the different internal parts of the car in order to better repair possible defects. And how their app helps IKEA customer to see how the chair they want to buy fits into their home before buying.
  • MomoMedical demonstrated their new hospital bed with smart sensors that registers how long people have laid in the same position and whether they have to be turned over.
  • On the innovation floor was also Qlayer’s disruptive coating technique with their autonomous painting robot creating microstructured coatings in a locally protected environment.
  • Then there was Tessa, a robot by Tinybots. Tessa helps people with difficulties concerning structure and routine tasks (for instance people with dementia) by structuring their day.
  • Berry Sanders from Fleet Space Technologies explained how their plug and play satellite system allows people to receive sensor data from any location in the world.
  • Sybren de Jong demonstrated Tropomi to the international business community. Tropomi is a Dutch climate and air pollution measuring satellite, co-developed by Airbus.
  • LeydenJar Technologies demonstrated their 100% silicon anode rolls that boost the energy density of Li-ion battery cells with up to 50% (1.200 Wh/l).

Let’s LINQ

InnovationQuarter’s mission is to strengthen the regional economy in West Holland by supporting and stimulating the innovation potential of this unique delta region. In close co-operation with all major corporations, educational and research institutions, and government organizations, we assist and support foreign companies like yours with their establishment, business expansion and relocation plans in our region.

And of course, we maintain in close contact with the 2,200 international companies that are already established here. Looking for collaborative contacts or in need of assistance? Get in touch with our team and we’ll introduce you in our extensive network.

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Investing in innovation

Access to Capital is one of the requirements to have the ability to innovate. To support starting and fast-growing entrepreneurs of the security sector, the Access to Capital event has been initiated by a collective of parties. The positive effects for the pitching organisations has been proven, which is why the organising parties: InnovationQuarter, Rabobank Regio Den Haag, Value Creation Capital, TIIN Capital and HSD Office initiated the fifth annual edition of this event, this year.

These kind of meetings where investor matches are made, are an upcoming trend. It is a place where collaborations arise that have a strong spin-off in the region in terms of employment opportunities. Innovation, securing data, and developing knowledge on these topics is something that partners heartily support.

Pitching organisations and winner

During the interactive day of inspiration, sharing experiences and information about funding, 6 innovative entrepreneurs pitched their businessplans within the area of cybersecurity. The winner, Sahar Ismail of Legacy Armour was selected by a professional jury. An overview of all the pitchers and investors that attended the event can be viewed here.