Dubbed as one of the most inventive cities in the world and the birthplace of Philips electronics, Eindhoven sits south of the Dutch capital. With over 22.6 patents produced per 100,000 residents, this innovative city is gaining attention from tech talents and international entrepreneurs. The growing startup community in Eindhoven is spearheaded by Brainport Eindhoven, a space created by the municipality to stimulate tech and design collaborations.

Brainport Eindhoven Source: https://innovationorigins.com - Technology student ambassadors from India, Egypt, Brazil, Hungary and more visit Brainport Eindhoven for an extensive tour of high-tech companies the city.

Various factors contribute to the city’s promising future such as influence from its academic institutions, the expat culture and its demand to hire tech talents. With this in mind, we’ve decided to explore Eindhoven’s startup scene and interview members from the community.

Eindhoven Tech Scene: University Influence

We’ve all heard the college dropout stories from founders of many successful companies, but in this case, local institutions in Eindhoven are some of the main drivers of entrepreneurship.

Firstly, High Tech Campus also dubbed as the “smartest square kilometre in Europe,” houses over 160 companies (eg. Philips, Shimano, NXP, and ASML) and over 11,000 researchers, developers, and entrepreneurs from over 80 different global backgrounds. The space is meant to harbor daily collaborations to continue the city’s reputation of the latest technological inventions.

According to Hans Aerts, the VP Software Development at TomTom, TomTom has moved its office to the High Tech Campus because of the high-tech atmosphere. He notes, “TomTom is working together with the University and Brainport to spearhead the future of autonomous driving.”

Secondly, the city is home to Eindhoven University of Technology which harbors various famous tech startups in the city, such as BitSensor, a cybersecurity startup awarded for its lineup of innovative efforts in Netherlands.During our interview with Ruben van Vreeland, the CEO of BitSensor, he comments that Eindhoven was chosen as the company’s headquarter because his team consisted of former students of TU Eindhoven.

Likewise, Danny Peeters, the Lead Back-End Developer at Studyportals, supports Vreeland and adds, “we started in Eindhoven because our founders were students at TU Eindhoven. We stayed here because the municipality really cares about the tech and startup scene.”

TU Eindhoven Source: https://thisiseindhoven.com - TU Eindhoven consist of 7,300 students, 250 professors, 600 Ph.D. students, 200 postdoctoral researchers and 2047 employees. Source: Thissieindhoven.com

The university also plays a huge role in sourcing tech talents and hiring developers in Eindhoven. Jeroen Buskens, the General Manager at Districs shares, “Even in a big company like ASML, recruiting can also be challenging…ties to the Technical University (TU) are useful in recruiting for developers and techies.”

Olivier Giraud, Marketing Manager at Valid, additionally confirms that local universities heavily influence the Eindhoven tech scene. “We have close relationships with schools and institutions throughout the region, such as the TU Eindhoven, Hogeschool Fontys and Avans. In coming years this will not change, as the technical schools attract very competent and international talent.”

Beyond talents sourced from the university, the student community has clearly achieved admirable feats. For example, “Solar Team Eindhoven became a World Champion at the World Solar Challenge three consecutive times; the team of Bluejay is building a drone that can function indoors and assist in the healthcare sector. Another example includes the Structural Ice Project, which built a 30-metre high ice tower in China and is planning to build an ice house on Mars.

In addition to technology and sciences, design is also another big focus in Eindhoven. The city is home to the world-renowned Design Academy, who hosts one of the biggest design events in Northern Europe such as Dutch Design Week. This event promotes Eindhoven’s design community by displaying various projects and ideas of over 2,500 designers, with attendance of more than 295,000 people in the last event.

Eindhoven design community Source: https://agne-k.com

Eindhoven Tech Scene: The Job Market

It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Dutch job market since the country’s economy has grown faster compared to the previous year, 3.2%. This growth was visible in almost all regions, especially Eindhoven. In 2018, it was not only Amsterdam (3.9% growth) that picked up, but also Eindhoven, with 4.9% in economic growth.

Since 2014, unemployment in Eindhoven has also fallen dramatically. This drop resulted in an unemployment rate of 3.5% in 2018, with strong performance in high tech industries, manufacturing and commercial services creating high-quality jobs.

Tech talents in Eindhoven will be a central focus of Brainport Eindhoven in the coming years. During our interview with Yvonne van Hest, the Program Director of Brainport Development, she shares,

“More companies within the region continue to have vacant positions due to shortage of personnel. Lack of tech talents in Eindhoven is expected to be a major challenge in the coming years. Brainport aims to tackle this shortage by investing in the technology and IT community through not only educational events but also by pushing initiatives to hire from the international community. Working together with local and international talents is vital for the growth of Eindhoven’s tech community.”

Eindhoven Tech Scene: Hiring International Developers

With Honeypot’s mission to match tech talents with great companies, we launched our beta product in Eindhoven a few months ago. Since then, we currently have tens of companies hiring on the platform, with hundreds of developers indicating interest in the city.

As mentioned, academic institutions have supplied many of the employers for local startups and companies. However, there’s also an emphasis on the international aspects of the talent pool. A community member comments,

“Small and medium-sized companies are starting to shift towards non-Dutch candidates as well. Big companies such as ASML and Philips are the main catalysts for expats to come here, who welcome hundreds a month. After an X amount of time, they will start looking for other jobs. We want to make sure they do that in our region.”

Rutger Peters, the CEO of Gamehouse also shares with us that Eindhoven is appealing to developers and other international candidates because of the number of high-tech opportunities. He continues,

“Gamehouse pretty much only recruits across borders. There is not a big pool of suitable developers for Gamehouse, so we search for international talent. Eindhoven is attractive to expats because it is a city where you can build your life. As mentioned, Amsterdam is too expensive, busy, and too touristy. . There is a more relaxed work-life balance. Developers come here after having lived in Amsterdam for some time because it is more relaxed and in-depth.”

Danny Peeters, Lead BE Dev at Studyportals, also comments that “Studyportals has the advantage of being a very internationally minded company. We have 35+ nationalities at our office.” And Tim Drijvers, CTO of SendCloud additionally adds, “there are 15+ nationalities in our team of 75. Daily work becomes more interesting when we have different backgrounds and perspectives.” The global tech hub has thus trickled into the diverse range of backgrounds found throughout the city.

Eindhoven Tech Scene: Visa Process for Tech Talents

Locally, it’s clear that companies in Eindhoven are shifting towards a more global talent pool. Nationwide, the Netherlands also has a strong international global infrastructure and a newly released startup visa which encourages entrepreneurs and investors worldwide to make the Netherlands a viable “EU-topia for entrepreneurship and foreign investment.

This visa process consists of a residence permit program that allows founders to launch their new business in the Netherlands within a year; beyond that, later-stage startups can rely on work permits for up to 5 years; and to further encourage international talents, expats have a 30% tax-free allowance on their gross salaries.

From a community perspective, Roy Schreurs from Expat Mortgages also adds that “It’s a very welcoming and familiar city for expats. As one-third of the city’s population is foreign, it’s very common to hear English spoken on the streets. Jeroen Buskens, General Manager at Districs, comments,

“There is a nice climate for developers here, especially international developers, quite coherent. Expats tend to get close to each other because it is a smaller city. Places such as Brainport XL, Stripe S, Seed Street make the tech hubs even more relevant.”

Eindhoven Tech Scene: Startup Community

Other notable members of Eindhoven’s startup community include HightechXL, an incubator program for high-tech hardware startups that helps young founders develop their business in a 3-6 month program in order to attract investors.

Secondly, Lumo Labs, located at Strip, an incubator that provides a two-year program for startups to be mentored by entrepreneurs in Eindhoven. Notable participants include Pillow’s Willow and VRee.

Thirdly, new on the TU Campus is Innovation Space, a space for professors, companies and students to work together on prototypes and the development of high tech products.

Last, but not least is the newly built High Tech Plaza, which will be the largest and most integrated startup hub in the Netherlands encompassing more than 10,000 m2, or about 108,000 square feet in three buildings on this giant research campus.

The new hotspot will consist of three buildings dedicated to house new ideas, scale-ups and a support center where investors, accountants and other business services will be located. There is additionally a large event space for future projects and startup community collaborations.

Eindhoven Tech Scene: International Investors

With the city’s global buzz, Eindhoven marks a new target for foreign investors. As Dispatches Europe reports, Eindhoven is on the radar for Chinese investors, who are arriving almost weekly from Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, searching for the next opportunity.

According to Dispatches Europe, Dutch investors are conversely looking at expansion opportunities in China. “Huawei has about 600 employees in the Netherlands, 70 percent of whom are locals, according to Lang. The Dutch operations generated 368 million in revenue for 2017 and injected 37 million into the local economy in procurement. The company invested 80 billion in R&D from 2000 to 2017 including about 14 billion last year.”

Eindhoven Tech Scene: Future Implications

Eindhoven is evolving into an international tech ecosystem, attracting eyes from all over the world. As we concluded our interviews, we asked how a few members in the community see the future climate of the Eindhoven tech community.

Bartosz Kuzmiciki, the CTO of Withlocals, answers, “The city is growing and has a great inflow of tech talents. Thanks to TU Eindhoven, international companies and scale-ups, people in the city are interested in knowledge sharing.”

Danny Peeters, the Lead BE Dev at Studyportals believes, “Eindhoven will continue to grow, especially its high-tech sector. Companies like AMSL and Philips will gradually expand within the region and show that corporates can work together with startups to create and innovate without limitations. Through this way of thinking, corporates in the city will remain relevant in the Eindhoven startup scene.”

As we wrapped up the interview, Ruben van Vreeland from BitSensor concludes,“Eindhoven is a great city that caters towards personal and professional growth. If you want to be immersed in high tech innovation, Eindhoven is the Dutch city to be in.”

In all, influence from top level institutions, new tech initiatives and the global component to the city has promoted a path for entrepreneurs to flourish in Eindhoven, so ears and eyes open for the next buzz coming from this city! To check out tech talents interested in the city, log into our platform or sign up to browse pre-screened developers looking for opportunities.

Much gratitude to everyone who sat with us and shared about the Eindhoven tech scene. You can learn more about them and their companies below:

Bartosz Kuzmicki (CTO) - Withlocals: Connecting locals and travellers through food and experiences.
Danny Peeters (Lead Backend Developer) - Studyportals: Europe’s biggest online platform for education choice.
Hans Aerts (VP of Software Development) - TomTom: Leading independent location, navigation and map technology specialist.
Jeroen Buskens (General Manager) - Districs: Supporting distribution companies with software solutions specializing in mathematical engineering.
Natasja Eerens (Senior Advisor Marketing & Communication Labour Market) - Brainport Development: Economic development organisation for the Brainport region.
Olivier Giraud (Marketing Manager) - Valid: Cloud solutions and outsourcing service provider.
Ruben van Vreeland (CEO) - BitSensor: Advanced application security and insights, winner of “Startup of the Year 2017” by Computable.
Rutger Peters (CEO) - Gamehouse: Provider of high-quality free games and pioneers of story games.
Tim Drijvers (CTO) - SendCloud: Smart shipping solution for E-Commerce.

Priscilla Tenggara

Priscilla Tenggara

Priscilla is a B2B Marketing Manager at Honeypot. Besides working on growth strategies, she enjoys adrenaline rushing activities and spending time in the outdoors.