For a long time, it remained an ambitious idea: bringing together high-tech manufacturing, knowledge and talent under one roof.
Now more than two years later, Brainport Industries Campus (BIC) is up and running. With approximately 100,000 square metres of business space and shared facilities such as logistics and catering, there is plenty of space here. That is what you think, because the empty spaces are filling fast.
While hard work is still being done inside to complete the building, at least 75% of the space on the campus has already been rented out. Talks are also ongoing with various (international) parties who wish to reserve their place. “If you take this into account, we are already 85% full,” Eli Lejeune says proudly. He has been responsible for marketing and communication at Brainport Industries Campus since 1 September. Faster than expected, there are already plans to place a second building on the site. We do not know yet when the construction will start. In total, we have room for five buildings.
Bert-Jan Woertman, Director, Brainport Industries Campus
In August, Anteryon was the first tenant. At the same time, almost 1,500 students of Summa College started their new academic year here. Later this year, the students and the lens manufacturer will be joined by big names such as KMWE, which supplies parts for the exhaust system of the JSF and Yaskawa, a manufacturer of industrial robots. Lejeune: “But also software companies like Fujitsu Glovia. They make so-called ERP software to optimise the processes around production. In this way, we create a unique mix of companies that add value to the ecosystem that we are trying to create here.”
How do you do that? Setting up an ecosystem? People were the most important starting point from the first sketch onwards, in which it was vital to come together, look at each other to see what the other was doing. Upon entering the large hall, this immediately becomes clear: open spaces and lots of glass. The Atrium is the central spot where people still do a lot of digging. “No, retreating yourself behind a locked door is not possible here,” Lejeune jokes. He explains that Brainport Industries Campus does more than offering space to companies: “We want to know what BIC people need, we will be in constant dialogue with them. How do they get the best out of their business? Maybe they want to follow certain training courses. But it’s not just about work. This must also be a place where you feel at ease. Totally different from a grey multi-tenant building on a remote industrial estate.”
According to Lejeune, there are other aspects that are important for building a functioning ecosystem: “We are currently at a kind of turning point; traditionally, products have to roll out the factory as cheaply as possible. This view is slowly changing; production is so much more than just reducing costs. As far as we are concerned, investing in talent and sharing knowledge is much more beneficial in the long term.” Or as Campus Director Bert-Jan Woertman explains: “Everything has to be faster and better, for this, you have to be smart. But you can never be the smartest on your own. That’s why collaboration here on campus is essential.”
Bert-Jan Woertman, Director, Brainport Industries Campus
According to BIC, it is the first campus in the Netherlands without a connection to the gas network. Director Bert-Jan Woertman: “Everyone talks about it, but we just do it.” Energy comes from more sustainable solutions. Heat pumps, a heat and cold storage system and almost 9,000 solar panels make gas redundant. Energy supplier ENGIE supplies the systems. From March next year, this company will take a closer look at the energy consumption of the BIC companies, to make them more sustainable. Or to capture residual heat and use it elsewhere.
As an example, he mentions a statement by Peter Wennink, CEO of ASML. He stressed how important the quality of the chain is for the success of ASML. Woertman: “At ASML, they produce perhaps the most complex machines in the world, which can only be produced here. The success of the high-tech manufacturing industry in the Brainport region is largely due to the supply companies, nowhere in the world do they have such an important role as here in the region.” Woertman knows that suppliers are more and more involved in the production process, they take on more research & development and provide knowledge in the field of technology and design. “We have evolved from a supply chain to a value chain. From working together to thinking together. Suppliers co-develop the entire production process. Much of the added value comes from here,” Woertman explains. He sees Brainport Industries Campus as a logical next step: “There is a unique collaboration between suppliers, education and the government. It is a catalyst for innovation in the high-tech manufacturing industry. I dare to say that Brainport is a global leader in this field.
Eli Lejeune, Marketing Communications, Brainport Industries Campus
Establishing an ecosystem is a dynamic process, it is a social product, Woertman emphasises. “Research by Erasmus University in the top sectors shows that social innovation determines the success of innovation, it thrives on chance encounters. For example, the Atrium is literally a bridge that connects all the activities at BIC. But that’s one aspect of the whole, we need to be constantly developing and sharing knowledge. Active programming with events around the relevant trends and themes for the manufacturing industry will ensure this. And we need to keep each other on our toes; the further development of the chain is paramount. That process never stops, that’s what makes it great work.” Brainport Industries Campus must become the face of the manufacturing industry in the centre of Brainport Eindhoven. Visitors will also be able to see how production works smartly. Woertman: “We have a mix of brainy and handy people who meet each other in the Atrium and talk about what they are working on, this gives rise to new ideas. Especially when you consider that this is a meeting place for the entire network, even if you are not a resident here, you should be able to benefit from the presence of BIC. That way, the whole chain benefits.”
Lejeune expands: “Actually, we are the largest startup in Eindhoven, it has never happened before that high-tech suppliers, education, government and knowledge institutions come together on this scale. And what will it all look like? We don’t know exactly. That’s what makes it such an exciting process. We know we have a good idea; we can only prove it by setting strong examples. Then you’re really going to see it,” Then smiling: “Many companies understand us, it shows that we’re already almost full.” Both gentlemen look confident to the future: “We are building the clubhouse of the Brainport region here, where we show what beautiful things you can do when you hang out together. Not only do we give the region its showpiece, we are also an interesting match for international players. Anyone can walk in and take a look through the windows at the Factory of the Future, almost all doors are open.”