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Boston better than Sillicon Valley? High Tech Campus visits Cambridge Innovation Center

Sep 25, 2018 9:04:09 AM. By: Ingelou Stol

When you talk about innovation, Eindhoven and Boston have so much in common. Like the focus on talent, startups and new technologies. Together with my two colleagues Hilde de Vocht and Paul van Son I've visited the Holland Innovation Network and the Cambridge Innovation Center in Boston. And we were happily surprised.

'So what we do here, is to help Dutch companies to be successful in Boston', says Walter de Wit of the Holland Innovation Network, located at the Consulate of the Netherlands in Boston. 'A lot of big Dutch companies are already located here. Like Shell, ASML, ING, Philips, Unilever and Ahold. The Boston high tech industry has experienced a 9% growth per year since 2010.'

Boston startup climate 
But also as a startup you'll feel welcome in the Greater Boston Area. There are 10-thousands of startups, specializing in life science, AI, sustainability, health, educational technology and clean technology. 'Boston is an intellectual capital', explains De Wit. 'There are more than 70 colleges and universities, 8 research universities (like well-known Harvard and MIT) and 250.000 students.'

Boston CIC 2

Left to right: Sander de la Rambelje (Holland Innovation Network), Ingelou Stol, Rik Bross (Holland Innovation Network), Walter de Wit (Holland Innovation Network), Jos Scheffelaar, Vincent Drietelaar (Prodrive), Paul van Son. 

Cambridge Innovation Center

The Eindhoven company Prodrive is also trying to conquer the market in the greater Boston area. They're located in the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC). Divided over two locations, the CIC houses a thousand companies. Vincent Drietelaar of Prodrive had the honorable task of setting up the office in Boston. 'We chose Boston so we could come into contact more easily with American companies. Due to the minimal time difference with the Netherlands and more favorable salaries than in the West Coast, Boston is a better place for us than Silicon Valley.'

Jos Scheffelaar is also working in the startup ecosystem of Boston. He travelled all over the world, and worked at all kind of startups. Now he is involved in an international program at MIT, and he helps scale ups from the Netherlands to make their way in Boston. 'For a lot of Dutch companies, Boston is a better fit than Silicon Valley. It feels European and the focus is more scientific.' 

Boston CIC 1

Venture Cafe
Walter de Wit, Vincent Drietelaar and Jos Scheffelaar take us to the Venture Cafe. Every week there is an informal networking event to meet interesting people that work in different startups. Scheffelaar really likes the concept of the CIC. 'You just rent an office space, but in return you will get the community for free. People can meet and have drinks in the kitchen, and that's how you make connections. But, the rent is really high. So for a lot of small startups the CIC is still one bridge too far.'

Still, they stay enthusiastic about Boston. Walter de Wit: 'When you look at the ranking of Most Innovative States, Massachusetts (with Boston as capital) is number 1. The following years we will be focusing on AI, photonics, robotics and agrifood tech. I'm looking forward to the future.'

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Ingelou Stol
Ingelou Stol

Communications Manager
ingelou.stol@hightechcampus.com

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