All posts in Innovation

Who will join the IoT & Data start-up program?

I’m in Barcelona again, surrounded by young companies full of energy and ideas how they want to conquer the world with their innovations in Internet of Things & Data. During these final selection days, we’ll pick the 10 European companies that have the best fit for the 2017 Startupbootcamp acceleration program starting November 28, 2016. Here’s a video summary of the 2016 alumni, performing on stage at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Smog vacuum cleaner

Another cool new project by Dutch designer, entrepreneur Daan Roosegaarde. His "Smog Free Tower" cleans 30.000 m3 polluted air per hour without ozon, runs on green wind energy and uses no more electricity than a waterboiler (1400 watts). Rightfully so, Roosegaarde has been elected recently as #16 on the NRC Cultuur Top 100, listing the most influential Dutch artists internationally. 

Xbox 360 launch in Utrecht

Just returned from a pre-launch party organized by the Sandfire team. Sandfire brought the city of Utrecht and Microsoft together, culminating in a green spotlight for the Dom of Utrecht symbolizing the Xbox 360 launch on December 2. In Utrecht you can get a bachelor in games design, the city is now even positioning itself as "the gaming city of the Netherlands". Combined with the national games days currently taking place in Utrecht, Microsoft could have picked a worse place for its long awaited launch. At the party in gallery De Kunstsalon, painter Adri Dijkhorst put his version of the Xbox 360 on display, which quickly became a collector’s item at Microsoft NL offices – he was asked to produce a second one. There were two Xbox 360 machines present at the gallery and I tried the  Project Gotham Racing 3 game for a few minutes, crashing every 10 seconds (my car, not the Xbox) despite the amazing graphics quality and advanced remote control. Spoke with 22-year old John Jonk, who is a professional game player. Professional means crossing the world to participate in game matches and making thousands of dollars per event. Some gamers make a living out of it, earning even more dollars. My kids at home have been complaining that "its about time we get a PlayStation 2 at home, everyone else has one". I have set a milestone before we go and buy one. When they heard about my invitation for the pre-launch party, there expectations rose. However, as there are a lot more (kids-friendly) games available for the PS 2, we won’t opt for the Xbox 360 (yet).

MP: “award 23% of procurement to SME”

It looks like the Dutch parliament is putting its arms around a Dutch Small Business Act now, a discussion I ignited with my June 21 press conference and the subsequent reaction from the Dutch Minister of International Trade. Today I received an email from Dutch member of parliament (MP) Mr. Jan ten Hoopen (CDA) that he now submitted a formal request to the Dutch government through a "motion". In his motion (click here to download as a PDF in Dutch) he requests "to develop a facility similar to the Small Business Act in the United States" "…with a government target of 23% of all procurement of products and technologies…" requesting a response before January 1, 2006. Taking into account the support earlier expressed by the political parties PvdA and VVD, this is likely to become a serious debate in Dutch parliament.

NL government: “Renegotiate WTO agreement”

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade Mrs. Karien van Gennip sent a letter this week to Dutch Parliament, answering MP-questions resulting from my June 21 press conference.
In summary her letter covers three topics (to download the Dutch letter as Word document, click here):
1. The Minister agrees that European SMEs cannot compete on equal footing with American SMEs due to a WTO-GPA agreement in place since 10 years.
2. To reverse the preferred treatment American SMEs are getting under the WTO agreement, the topic has now been put on the agenda of the current WTO-negotiations by the EU, supported by the Dutch government.
3. The Netherlands has started a trial with a SBA-pact for SMEs, a so-called SBIR arrangement which awards government R&D projects to SMEs.

The good news is that the Dutch government explicitly recognizes the unfairness of the issue and now actively supports the lobby to renegotiate the WTO-GPA agreement. I am glad my lobby effort and press conference in June on behalf of SUN&SUP had some impact. What I am less satisfied about is that the Dutch government feels it’s already doing something to support SMEs with government projects. The fact of the matter is that these SBIR-projects she refers to, total only a few million Euros, which is nothing compared to the 23% of public procurement the US government awards to American SMEs annually. Government procurement in the Netherlands totals 30 billion Euro (…) annually. Imagine only 10% of that, 3 billion Euro, flowing to Dutch SMEs every year. Wouldn’t that be a true impulse for employment growth and innovation among SMEs, the European Union is so desperately pursuing with it’s Lisbon agenda? I’ll try to get this point across.

Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach…

…through innovation. Thursday I attended Joris Craandijk’s seminar "Innovation, the new Passion in Business", where he looked back as project leader of the now highly successful Heineken BeerTender product. For his seminar Joris had lined up a number of interesting speakers. Some were able to refresh parts of our mind that other speakers cannot reach. Herman Wijffels, chairman of the SER (social economic advisory council) when he spoke about the economic innovation needed in the Netherlands: "Our current leaders are system managers of institutions that were effective in the past decades, but no longer are in today’s economy" and "The western world is in a state of confusion currently, it will take time for a new direction and new leadership to emerge". Or Eddie Obeng, Founder of the Virtual Business School while jumping around the room: "The pace of change is outperforming our speed of learning". Joris Craandijk closed the session presenting his BeerTender case, which convinced him that the beer industry "…cannot live for another fourty years on what’s been there for fourty years". About the Netherlands and innovation "We cannot compete on price with India and China in the Netherlands, it should be our country’s cutting edge to mobilize expertise available here and elsewhere". Thanks a lot for the invitation Joris, unfortunately I had to miss the final and most refreshing part of the agenda: Biertje?
(the headline of this post refers to Heineken’s successful marketing campaign in the UK)

Ease of doing business in 2006

It’s more difficult in one country than another to do business. That’s the idea behind a study published last week by the World Bank, ranking 155 countries on a set of criteria including Starting a business, Hiring and firing, Getting credit, Protecting investors, Paying taxes and Trading across borders.
For 2006, the top 3 countries in terms of "ease of doing business" are New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. The only two European countries who made it to the Top 10 are Denmark (8) and the UK (9). The Netherlands is showing up at an embarrassing 24th place. Any politicians around looking for ammunition to make some business friendly, sweeping changes?

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