Cboost is a 5.0 Engineering consulting firm offering high-tech R&D and engineering services. Based on their expertise in advanced technology such as robotics and artificial intelligence, Cboost’s multidisciplinary engineering teams develop business solutions that help clients move to a more efficient and sustainable future.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Sit down with Cboost founder Daniël Telgen and there’s so much more below the surface. In addition to his role as Cboost CEO, Telgen is an applied professor at Avans University of Applied Sciences. Daniel worked as an engineer before spending 10 years in the academic world. But he’s always wanted to change the way humans do things on the way to building a sustainable, healthy world – to use advanced systems to change the nature of work in unpredictable environments like agriculture, construction and logistics/fulfillment.
His ambitions got a boost from his role as a professor as Telgen talked with many companies who told him they were struggling with a loss of expertise and personnel. Often, these companies were involved in dull, dirty or dangerous work, such as packaging, construction and high maintenance. These sectors struggle to attract new people, while a large part of the labor force is entering their final years before retirement. Telgen saw an opportunity for AI and robotics to improve their outlook.
“I’ve always worked in AI, trying to get technology to interact with the world in such a way that it can be used to change the way we work,” he says. “I was very impressed with SpaceX and Tesla because they changed the face of how we do things. They revolutionized entire industries in order to create a structural improvement for humanity. And that's always been my goal.”
In that quest, he started Cboost, which just moved into HTC Building 5. The Cboost staff now works from one of the Campus’ most desirable suites , just a few meters from the lake overlooking a tree-shaded walking path. “Yeah, it was an investment,” he says. “But we love being next to trees and looking out on the more natural world. But you know, it’s actually very important to what we’re trying to achieve with Cboost – a balance between nature and human society through technology.”
From the Campus, Telgen coordinates dozens of engineers who work with clients all over the Netherlands. He also plans to go international eventually. But it wasn’t just the view that pulled Cboost to the Campus. Eindhoven was a strategic decision. Telgen lives in Rotterdam, but he says Cboost has to be on High Tech Campus to take advantage of Eindhoven’s deep-tech ecosystem for fast growth. “Brainport does have the name, the people and the culture to be able to do these kinds of things. I wouldn't call it ‘Silicon Valley’ yet, but we are building toward something bigger.”
Telgen also chose HTCE to be close to TMC, the high-tech R&D and development firm based at High Tech Campus Eindhoven. TMC founder Thijs Manders is an early Cboost investor.
Not much older than the COVID-19 pandemic, Telgen’s company is guided by the premise that businesses need the latest tech innovations if they’re going to cope not only with personnel shortages but also the effects of global challenges such as climate change and energy transitions. Cboost helps by robotizing unpredictable work. In other words, by robotizing labor.
Welcome to Society 5.0.
How did we get here? Well, Telgen says humans began with Society 1.0, hunter-gatherers. From there, life got more complex through industrialization and digitalization. Now we want to evolve to 5.0, the circular, connected smart society where sustainability and well-being are key, with intelligent systems that work on a global scale.
From HTCE, Cboost engineers – called Cboosters – take on assignments in robotics, mechatronics, system engineering and embedded and intelligent systems. Cboost’s AI and robotics engineers are tops in their fields and have a passion for achieving growth by integrating intelligent technology.
Cboost’s role is to develop technology leaders and supply the talent to clients who want to integrate smart technology, robotics and embedded systems for more intelligent and efficient use of resources. At this early stage, machine builders are the main client. Telgen himself has a little bit of an “oh, that” attitude when you ask about sales and revenue. Only recently has Cboost developed a sales force. Rather, his technique is to organize ideation sessions for potential clients. “It’s a rather intense, personalized program, which goes into AI and what we can achieve with current technology.”
We show a lot of practical examples, educate people and then we ask, "okay, what problems do we see together that can be solved through technology?" Even without a formal sales force, Cboost still managed to grow to 20 employees, working on 17 projects for 14 different customers in 2021. The goal is to expand to at least 50 Cboosters within two years.
Fueling these ambitious growth plans means finding more than just clients. Cboost also needs to find top engineers in the midst of a global war for talent.
Telgen’s philosophy is to stress the company culture based on a common higher purpose . “I guess you could call us a social enterprise. Our sustainability mission is not just corporate speech. We live and breathe it personally. This vision, coupled with authenticity, makes it easier to find talent,” says Telgen. And it’s only going to get more interesting. Cboost is focused on client project engineering, but Telgen wants to get into creating products. One of the first would be a robot that autonomously collects data that could be used in agriculture, where data is sketchy.
Telgen has endless plans to do incredible things. He dreams of building agricultural cities and factories that manufacture completely custom products on demand. He’s written papers about the concept “but now I want to do it!” He wants to make AI, robotics and other advanced technologies easy to use for craftsman, such as artisans, construction workers and other tradespeople who have been left out of the digital age.
“That’s what Apple did. They created technology everyone could use because it just works well. And that’s what I want Cboost to do.”