Strengthening the ecosystem: LUMO Labs ‘fits like a glove’ at High Tech Campus Eindhoven

Interview with HTCE Managing Director Jan Willem Neggers

All global ecosystems have a defining center … Palo Alto in Silicon Valley. Station F in Paris. Science City in Berlin.

In Eindhoven – and really for the Netherlands – High Tech Campus Eindhoven is the mothership, home to the world’s most advanced research and development efforts.

The campus is an R&D hub with 225 companies as well as investment funds active in high tech, says Jan-Willem Neggers, HTCE managing director. That’s why Neggers pitched the idea of LUMO Labs relocating to the campus from its original Eindhoven location in Strijp-S after a 2018 conversation with LUMO Labs Founding Partner Andy Lürling.

“I got to know Andy and his business partner Sven Bakkes and discussed their ambitions around LUMO Labs and also strengthening the ecosystem for artificial intelligence and the other emerging technologies they invest in” Jan-Willem says. “And I said, ‘This would fit like a glove on High Tech Campus, because we also have ambitions in that direction.’“

Not only did LUMO Labs move to the campus, High Tech Campus’ Ramphastos Fund became an anchor investor in LUMO Labs Fund II, and Jan-Willem is a member of LUMO Labs’ Scientific and Industry Advisory Board.

“So, it all came together,” he said.

A lot of the tech firms and research centers based on High Tech Campus are active in hardware. In 2020, development of hardware and hardware production increasingly go hand-in-hand with software development, and more companies on the campus are focusing on software and artificial intelligence. “Strengthening the ecosystem and getting startups in the field of AI and other areas LUMO is in – helping them get started – is something we really want to promote,” Jan-Willem said.

This synchronicity has echoes of The Valley, where tech giants build campuses designed for interaction, facilitate collaboration and encourage people to start new businesses. “We’re much smaller than The Valley, but the principles are the same,” Jan-Willem said. 

LUMO Labs brings a much needed early-stage capital boost to the campus, a boost he sees paying dividends in the future.

In Silicon Valley, Jan-Willem pointed out, successful founders maintain a connection to the place where they succeeded, investing in startups themselves, ensuring a strong capital ecosystem. It’s the sort of virtuous cycle High Tech Campus and the province of North Brabant need to foster. LUMO Labs’ talent attraction, business-building expertise and capital fits into that High Tech Campus vision, he said.

If this joint effort can create 20 or 30 startups, that can make a difference, because you only need one to grow as big as ASML, Jan-Willem said.

“That’s why I think it’s very important that you have people like Andy and Sven who start LUMO Labs.” The collaboration with LUMO Labs is a long-term strategy for campus executives. HTCE is helping strengthen the startups LUMO works with and funds. “As the startups grow, of course we hope they stay on campus … and the circle closes, so to speak.”

LUMO Labs is part of an innovation center that hosts the most advanced companies in the world, companies working in 3D printing, robotics and photonics. 

As of March 2021, the AI Innovation Center will join the new 5G Hub experimenting with all potential applications. “The campus is going to be completely covered by 5G (including the mission critical frequency), so we can start doing tests with autonomous drones, autonomous driving, etc.,” Jan-Willem said.

“We do our best to make sure all the right facilities are here … various labs and all the R&D facilities people need to do their research. We also have a lot of clean rooms. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to getting the right people here with the right ideas.”