We recognise that High Tech Campus Eindhoven is part of a larger innovative metropolis. That explains why we attach such high importance to jointly organising hundreds of events each year with other partners. All have to be "within bike riding distance" to keep the cross fertilization of ideas and know-how between creatives, scientists and engineers. That includes free, walk-in Friday Afternoon Innovation lectures, open to the public. We’ve also started organising informal dinners to connect creatives with high tech entrepreneurs and researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology and Design Academy Eindhoven. From the feedback we see, when you take an active approach, only then does the magic really happens. It takes what we light-heartedly call "Managed Serendipity" to ensure that unexpected connections are made and sustained.
In the last decade, Eindhoven has grown into an international showcase of urban renewal. With the closure of several large factories in the heart of the city around 20 years ago, the city authorities have been gradually revitalizing whole neighbourhoods. This involves completely rethinking the city centre, finding new purposes for these buildings from another age. It also means understanding what makes communities thrive. The Strijp-S complex, once the largest radio factory in the world, is now home to active collaborative spaces for artists, architects and a range of creative companies. It’s combined with shops, restaurants and 500 "affordable" apartments to suit individuals and families.
Our experience in Eindhoven is that you need to try a mix of activities and continually measure what people think. There is no single magic success formula. What worked three years ago is no guarantee for tomorrow. And there is no single culture. Different networks form, depending on the context. Is it a trusted close network with five colleagues working in the next building? Or is it a brief encounter with three local entrepreneurs you made by attending a deep-dive thematic conference on campus together with 120 others. Variety in the style, topic and form of organised activities is often underestimated by the high-tech sector. There is always a tendency to get trapped by your own routine. The video summary of the Brookings report is now on YouTube.
Last, but not least, local leaders in our region have been interested to see validation of the so-called "Triple Helix" approach. This consists of structured interactions between industry, research institutions and government.
"An important share of innovation district leaders found the Triple Helix model of governance to be foundational to their success. Collectively, they design long-range visions and create new vehicles for innovation, such as research centres and incubators. In the case of 22@Barcelona, St. Louis, Kista Science City (Sweden), and Eindhoven (Netherlands), the Triple Helix model established a clear organizational model of collaboration from the start. Further, Eindhoven and St. Louis are finding real success in a leadership model that includes a powerful development agency to execute strategies."
"Practitioners cited the valuable role of one person, a team of people, or designated entity serving as a "catalyst," an "integrator, or a "facilitator" throughout the process. This was found to be true even in cases using the Triple Helix model.
For the Triple Helix to work, you need "active facilitators" with a helicopter view on on the bigger picture. They need strong negotiating skills to build a rapid consensus and keep the collaboration efforts moving along. Fortunately, we’ve seen that leadership talent grow in organisations such as Eindhoven University of Technology, Strijp-S, Automotive Campus in Helmond, High Tech Campus Eindhoven and Brainport, the regional development agency. Each needs to provide its "home grown champions" to build the productive team spirit. It may take time and several "learn-do-learn" projects to build the trust. But when once that’s established, it really works!
The report concludes with excellent strategies for everyone to consider in planning a successful future. The lessons learned are crystal clear:
"In short, Innovation districts represent a clear path forward for cities and metropolitan areas. Local decision makers—elected officials and heads of large and small companies, local universities, philanthropies, community colleges, neighbourhood councils and business chambers—would be wise to unleash them."
We agree, but we also see that someone has to make a first move. So here goes. We see huge win-win benefits emerging if Innovation Districts were to work more in global partnerships. It is working for other sectors, so why not for ours? That’s why we launching an open invitation to managers and development managers from other Innovation Districts to strike up a conversation. We have start-ups and spinoffs looking to expand their global networks in several high-tech areas of the world. They could accelerate their product development and time to market by tapping into the local ecosystems set up in your Innovation Districts. In return, we believe we have a lot to offer both young high-tech companies and established corporates from the USA and Canada. They might be looking to expand into a global market through Western Europe, or tap into the high-tech knowledge that we have in our Innovation District.
We’re ready to offer qualifying companies two months of free office space on High Tech Campus Eindhoven. We want to make it easier to explore what’s possible within our high-tech network of 10,000 people, working in the fastest growing region in the Netherlands. We look forward to collaborating, because together we really can stand on the shoulders of giants. And get a better view far across the valley!