Creating a car that drives on Snicker bars is not a problem for the students of the University of Twente (UT). Neither is entrepreneurship, being the most entrepreneurial university of the Netherlands. But if we truly want to solve the grand challenges of our time, in areas such as security, IT and healthcare, we need to link all the relevant dots. "Universities are key players in our ecosystem of innovation", UT president Victor van der Chijs said during the opening of The Future of High Tech, on the second day of StartupFest Europe. "This is the place where talent, knowledge and money come together."
This article was made possible by the University of Twente
These three elements are the drivers of innovation, UT emphasized. The Future of High Tech therefore represented forging connections, both through one-on-one meetings with industry leaders, sessions about verticals like healthcare, energy, internet and water and keynotes from several experts speakers, including serial entrepreneur and author of The Long Tail, Chris Anderson.
Universities have the power to combine the necessary elements in innovation. Eric Scmidt of Google’s Alphabet therefore also stipulated on the need to invest in knowledge and in tech universities in general during the opening of StartupFest. "High tech makes the future", Van der Chijs agreed with Schmidt. "That is why all of our students are engaged with it, just as much as they are engaged with entrepreneurship."
Enschede and the UT have numerous promising tech startups, including Internet of Things startup Undagrid and football data company Scisports. They also believe to have enough entrepreneurial talent, as both the TU and local Saxion Hogeschool are good for around 900 startups these days. "One each week", says Van der Chijs.
Then money comes into play. In 2014, the Cottonwood Technology Fund (CTF) settled comfortably in the Twente region. General manager Ray Quintana, told StartupJuncture earlier he found the startup climate in Twente impressive for such a small region. So money for startups seems sorted out as well in the region.
On top of that, Eddy van Hijum, deputy governor of the province of Overijssel, announced he had just brought a proposal to the region’s leadership in order to secure another 9 million euro to keep Twente as innovative as possible.
"Startups and corporations validate science", prince Constantijn, also present in Enschede, said. "Without them, it would just stay knowledge." To keep connecting those dots of innovation is therefore not only necessary for the University of Twente to stay on top of its game, it’s also necessary for all universities in The Netherlands.
Great #Dutchinnovation! #startup RT @startupfesteu Car driving 3 hours on energy of Snickers @TFoHT_Twente #TFoHT pic.twitter.com/BZ97VwawB0
— Holland+You (@hollandplusyou) May 25, 2016
StartupJuncture will report from StartupFest Europe all week. We will be present at a lot of (the over 30) events throughout The Netherlands. Stay up to date on the latest via our recap reports each day. Questions, cool photos or suggestions? Just Tweet to @StartupJuncture.