Eindhoven University of Technology, Brainport Development, the Brabant Development Agency (BOM), Fontys University of Applied Sciences and Summa College are joining forces in a new support center to support tech start-ups: The Gate. The goal is to help an increasing number of entrepreneurial researchers, students and other tech starters in the region to make an optimal start to their business. On 18 January, the parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the presence of Mayor John Jorritsma and Provincial Executive deputy Martijn van Gruijthuijsen.
The introduction of The Gate should ensure that an even greater number of start-ups can successfully take off in the region. “The Eindhoven region is a particularly fertile environment for the emergence of tech start-ups,” says Jeroen van Woerden, manager of The Gate. “But students or researchers with innovative ideas often do not have all the knowledge and skills needed to start a successful business. There are already all kinds of facilities to help them with this, but these are still fragmented. With The Gate, we now offer one accessible desk with access to all areas of expertise. This is explicitly intended both for people who are still orientating themselves and for start-ups that already have their first customers. Through us, they can acquire knowledge on patents, arrange a business location and receive coaching, help with business plans and, of course, help in obtaining funding. And because each company is different,” Van Woerden emphasizes, “each starter receives tailor-made solutions from us.”
Mark Verhagen, former leader of the SOLID student team and co-founder of the start-up RIFT (Renewable Iron Fuel Technology), is enthusiastic about The Gate. “As a starter, you are often young and passionate. To increase your chances of success, it’s essential to gain access to specialist knowledge and connect with experienced experts who can provide feedback and leverage their network and who know the ropes of funding. The Gate ensures that this is all within reach.”
The MoU states that TU/e will contribute its business development division to The Gate. This will be supplemented with business developers from the BOM and Brainport Development. The latter will also contribute a communication budget of almost 400,000 euros. In addition, the BOM is contributing via a new revolving fund of at least 500,000 euros. This is for funding of companies during the very early start-up phase, at which point commercial investors will not yet get involved due to the high risk profile. Start-ups can use this to finance feasibility studies, for instance. Fontys and Summa both provide links to their own Center for Entrepreneurship, and Fontys makes expert student capacity available to the tech start-ups. The Gate will be located in the start-up hub Alpha on the TU/e campus. In this building, Twice also offers business spaces for start-ups.
“Start-ups are increasingly important for innovation and economic progress but also for solutions in areas such as health and sustainability,” says Robert-Jan Smits, President of TU/e, which celebrates its 65th anniversary in 2021. “We strongly encourage our researchers and students to be entrepreneurial. Clear and accessible support is a natural part of this in order to optimize the chances that solutions actually reach the market. And this applies just as much to smart ideas that arise in the other knowledge institutions in the region.”
Brigit van Dijk – Van de Reijt, director of the BOM: “The BOM is a growth accelerator that drives innovation and entrepreneurship. We look forward to working with our partners in The Gate in order to give entrepreneurs a good start in the early stages.”
Paul van Nunen, director of Brainport Development: “We’re making support for start-ups in the region much clearer and more accessible. Through the collective, we help start-ups take off. But of course, the intention is that they continue to grow in the region after the start-up phase, for example on one of the region’s innovation campuses.”
Laurent de Vries, chairman of the Executive Board of Summa College: “For our intermediate vocational students, the support center is a welcome source of assistance in starting their own businesses.”
Mayor John Jorritsma, chairman of the Brainport Foundation, says he is pleased with the joining of forces. “It fits in perfectly with our profile as a knowledge city that has its eyes on the future. Young innovative companies are the future. The Gate will make an important contribution to this,” Jorritsma expects.
Provincial Executive deputy Martijn van Gruijthuijsen also welcomes the new collaboration: “To secure the earning power of the province of Brabant of tomorrow and the day after, we need innovative startups. But not only for that: startups also often provide solutions for our common challenges. It is an important step that these parties all look beyond their own borders and start.