Eindhoven Engine News February 2021

Dear Members,

We started this year with some really nice highlights, and we would like to share these with you. Although we are still working remotely, we have put a lot of effort into the Eindhoven Engine OpenCall 2021. On 3 February, we announced that the OpenCall 2021 is open. The opening of our co-location (MMP building) is another highlight. MMP is now ready to welcome our Eindhoven Engine community to collaborate, connect and get inspired! Let’s hope we can do this safely as soon as the COVID-19 measures allow.

In this edition, you can read an interview with Sonja Vos, CEO of TU/e Participations and TU/e shareholder of Eindhoven Engine. With this interview, we have completed our trilogy on sharing the views of Eindhoven Engine’s founders – TU/e, TNO and Fontys – on how to accelerate innovation in Eindhoven Engine and the need for agile innovation. Jaap Lombaers (TNO) and Ella Hueting (Fontys) gave their interviews in previous editions of the newsletter.

Today, the project in focus is SmartMan. Hans Krikhaar (Fontys project leader of SmartMan) and Kees Adriaanse (Fontys Liaison Officer at Eindhoven Engine and program leader of Fontys Centre of Expertise High-Tech Systems & Materials) explain the various aspects of smart manufacturing and collocative work by students on behalf of SMEs during this innovative project.

Also in this edition:

  • ‘Isolation gowns’ innovation competition project selected for the RVO SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research)
  • Eindhoven Engine project vacancies for students
  • ‘Kracht van de Regio’ podcast: Eindhoven Engine as example of a RegioDeal project, discusses the successful formula of projects and their added value
  • Eindhoven Engine Academy news: Business Model Innovation in an Exponential World by Walter Baets, Learning Officer Eindhoven Engine Academy
  • Eindhoven Engine Community of Practice
  • PDEng Design Challenge

Enjoy your read and become part of our community! Stay safe and healthy.

Katja Pahnke and Maarten Steinbuch

Eindhoven Engine, TNO and HAVEP to develop sustainable medical isolation gowns

On 28 January 2021, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) accepted Eindhoven Engine’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) proposal on sustainable medical isolation gowns. Through SBIR, the government is challenging entrepreneurs to come up with innovative products and services to solve societal issues. Together with TNO and HAVEP, Eindhoven Engine submitted a proposal and we are proud to have been selected as one of the five projects. 10 proposals were submitted in total.

The fight against the COVID-19 virus is generating a lot of waste. The vast majority of protective materials used in the healthcare sector need to be destroyed after a single use due to the risk of contamination. In this research, Eindhoven Engine and its partners will focus on the development of sustainable medical isolation gowns that can be used multiple times: the ProH I-gown. In addition, an investigation will take place into how the production capacity can be made (economically) scalable and flexible when necessary.

These sustainable medical isolation gowns can save six tons of CO2 per million gowns. If these isolation gowns are fully utilized during crisis situations, the result could be a saving of 0.2% of the total plastic waste stream in the Netherlands. In addition, ProH Isolation gowns stimulate the production of protective clothing in Europe.

The execution of this research for the healthcare sector in the Netherlands consists of two phases. In this wonderful collaboration between innovation accelerator Eindhoven Engine, research organisation TNO and manufacturer HAVEP, a technical feasibility assessment will be carried out in the first phase. A business case will also be set up. The gowns will be made of woven PET material with an environmentally friendly coating. Research will also be carried out into the durability and wearability of these gowns. HAVEP will contribute its many years of knowledge and experience in the development and production of fabrics to this partnership. For this first phase, EUR 25,000 has been made available. In phase 2 of the project, the concrete industrialization will be worked out in detail. The official kick-off of this project is Tuesday 16 February 2021.

“I’m very happy with the start of this project: a large, relevant problem which we’re going to solve together!”

Maarten Steinbuch, Scientific Director Eindhoven Engine

Eindhoven Engine fuels fresh starts in innovation

At just over a year old, Eindhoven Engine has already produced a large number of appealing projects. The driving motivation behind this initiative in innovation stimulation is to create an inspiring atmosphere comparable to that of the famous Philips NatLab (Philips Research). Here, clever scientists were more or less free to investigate innovative ideas in close cooperation with colleagues and product designers. Read more…

Source: Mikroniek (a magazine for engineers and technicians working in the area of precision engineering.)


Eindhoven Engine creates an impetus to accelerate innovation

Failure is the price of innovation

“You have to accept failure. If every project from your innovation department is a success, you are not bold enough in your endeavor to innovate. You are minimizing risks and playing it safe. Failure is inherent to innovation.”

We are sitting in a conference room on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven and speaking with Jaap Lombaers, Director Knowledge Management and Partnerships at TNO. The room is situated in a modern, open-spaced building with large windows everywhere. Behind Jaap, there is a view into the laboratory. Researchers in white coats and safety goggles walk calmly and decisively from machine to machine under a maze of pipes reflecting the bright ceiling lights.

Applying new science and finding a market

A background in industrial design is not overly common for those working in a laboratory but when I mention this to Jaap, his eyes light up and he smiles. “I am inspired by all the things that go on inside this lab. I can tell the story of every machine in this room and why it is important to the progress of solar energy and of innovations in electronics. This lab is the merger of science and application.

You are right, industrial design is integrative rather than specialistic; during my studies, I learned to combine different fields of science and apply them to find new solutions. And this is what we do every day here at TNO. 

What we try to accomplish at TNO isn’t just about science. The primary goal is working with large, multidisciplinary teams to create functional and economically-viable solutions. It’s a team effort in which we combine fundamental and applied science in order to create innovative solutions for the market.”

Combining strengths and creating a boost

“TNO is always on the lookout for partners who can amplify the abilities of our own organization. This is one of the reasons we supported the Eindhoven Engine initiative and even became a shareholder.

We appreciate that our partners, TU/e and Fontys, really are different from us and therefore complementary. Where we are trying to apply science, universities are pushing the frontiers of science itself and developing the new talents that industry and research organizations need.

These are bottom-up organizations with students, PhDs and scientists who are conducting new research. This creates a reservoir of young, keen minds which can provide a fresh, new perspective in ongoing projects. TU/e and Fontys are also connected to a vast network of companies, especially in the region of Eindhoven. Just like TNO, they frequently cooperate with large and well-known companies as well as smaller ones which do not have the luxury of extensive R&D departments.

In Eindhoven Engine, we combine these assets. We create multidisciplinary teams of research partners and students, unite them in one location in order to increase collaboration and give ongoing innovation projects a boost.

“If you want to make a leap
in your innovation project in just a couple of years,
Eindhoven Engine is the perfect platform.”

Not every innovation project is suited to Eindhoven Engine. If you want to do in-depth research, you just give scientists a large amount of time and resources to get to the bottom of it. But if you want to make a leap in your innovation project in just a couple of years, Eindhoven Engine is the perfect platform. At the moment, we have a team working on the development of a heat battery, for instance. This is an established program to which Eindhoven Engine adds an extra layer to accelerate the progress. In another project, we are developing solutions for flexible manufacturing (smartly combining the skills of operators with those of robots) alongside Fontys and multiple companies in a field lab on the Brainport Industries Campus (BIC).”

We just started

This kind of coordinated, multidisciplinary and systematic way of doing research is built into the genes of TNO. “We have gained considerable experience over the years in cooperating with different partners and consortia. This experience is what we can add to Eindhoven Engine. But don’t forget, Eindhoven Engine just got started last year. The paint had just dried in the Eindhoven Engine building when the corona pandemic engulfed the world. So, we have to give it some time to see what works well and what has to be improved.

There are still things we have to figure out. How to make smart use of co-location? I would recommend that the teams be situated at the best location given the nature of their projects. I would say that a team working on solar panels, for instance, should situate itself here at Solliance. In this building, we have a whole laboratory equipped to do research on thin-film solar cells. For those teams not permanently located at the Eindhoven Engine co-location, this location could be used as a clubhouse of sorts: a place to visit regularly and where cross-pollination between the different teams involving multiple organizations can occur. I am convinced that we can learn a lot from each other.”




Eindhoven Engine student vacancies website goes live!

Eindhoven Engine’s ambition is to boost innovation in ‘unprecedented’ ways, deal with societal challenges and create a unique synergy between (bachelor’s, master’s and PDEng) students, scientists and companies while working on multidisciplinary projects.

In order to facilitate meetings between students, scientists and innovators of industry, we now have a vacancy page for students looking for ground-breaking, impactful assignments in one of Eindhoven Engine’s projects. Projects are invited to post their assignments. Bachelor’s, master’s, PDEng and PhD students who are interested are invited to have a look!

Eindhoven Engine student vacancies website goes live!

Unleashing collective intelligence

Technology is developing at an exponential rate.

The impact is already felt in many domains of our daily lives: Our cars have become iPads on wheels and will partly become autonomous robots. We are addicted to the information flow of our smartphones. Our homes are becoming “smart,” and we watch TV via the Internet. 

Corona accelerated the adoption of remote work and online meetings by at least two years. The pandemic also sped up the digitalization of healthcare. 

How can researchers, innovators, founders, investors and entrepreneurs best use our collective intelligence to focus on future challenges? How can we create innovative processes and explore all the possibilities?

The question becomes, “Are we fast enough? Can we scale fast enough?”

Innovation by trial and error

One limiting factor is that knowledge generation and dissemination are normally followed by industrialization via existing companies or by founding startups. If we really want to speed up, the least we should do is practice concurrent innovation.

An even bolder move would be innovation through trial and error, through iteration loops and through learning by doing. And, of course, we need to devote more resources to innovation, including capital and talent. 

In fact, if we co-innovate by bringing together people from research and from industry, we will accelerate all innovation processes, balancing between creative disruption divergence and focus. 

This is what we want to achieve with Eindhoven Engine and this is also why I am on the Board at LUMO Labs.

Collective intelligence

It’s crucial to motivate researchers and executives to unite in our efforts to accelerate innovation.

In the university research space, our corporate partners make sure we have the resources to understand, then solve, real-world problems. At the same time, this collaboration allows us the freedom to look far into the future, anticipate what’s coming next, then leverage these insights.

This stimulates researchers to invent new solutions in the form of new theories and new designs. Combining new ideas with young entrepreneurs as well as experienced people into startups or new business for existing companies leads naturally to new implementations in society.

Cross-domain information exchange is crucial to co-creation. We call this “enabling” or “unleashing” our collective intelligence. It is obvious to implement in established ecosystems such as Brainport. And digital networking will also help build and sustain a global network of innovators dedicated to exponential innovation. 

We are living in a very interesting time, when new technologies emerge so quickly, and societal challenges are so compelling.

We see the potential, and we should do our utmost to increase the speed of innovation. Connecting people and using our networks are the key ingredients for success. In the end, it is all about people and unleashing their full potential.

Prof.dr. Maarten Steinbuch

Scientific Director Eindhoven Engine
Member Advisory Board LUMO Labs

Even more clout for Eindhoven Engine

Fontys, TNO and TU/e joint shareholders.

This month Fontys, TNO and TU/e officially became equal shareholders (1/3 each) of Eindhoven Engine. Together the three parties promise to do everything possible to accelerate innovation in the Brainport region. The result is an even better cluster of strengths whereby the innovative business community – from start-up to large company – can take maximum advantage of the available knowledge and skills.

Katja Pahnke, who together with Maarten Steinbuch is responsible for the day-to-day management of Eindhoven Engine, is proud of the result. “In this way we can achieve the intended exponential acceleration of innovation even faster. We connect knowledge institutes to the business community. Stimulate collaboration at a single location. This gives you the intended cross-fertilization between different disciplines.” Maarten Steinbuch adds: “This allows you to benefit from each other’s expertise, network and experience. That acceleration of innovation, that’s what we do it for.”

Ella Hueting, Fontys: “In my opinion, this collaboration is unique. We expect these short lines of communication to be of even greater significance for SMEs.”

Jaap Lombaers, TNO: “We are going to have teams of students from TU/e and Fontys in our innovation programs for and with the industry. In this way we can serve business and industry in the Brainport region in all kinds of ways. We expect that this will enable us to lower barriers and accelerate innovation.”

Eindhoven Engine started in 2019. With support from the Brainport Action Agenda RegioDeal, sixteen projects have been started. The collective ambition is to further accelerate innovation in our region through collaboration and co-creation at a co-location.

Eindhoven Engine

Eindhoven Engine unlocks the collective intelligence in the Brainport region. Thanks to a unique formula, innovators from companies can join forces with students and experienced researchers and employees from knowledge institutions in order to work together to accelerate innovation and realize disruptive co-creation projects in which co-location is a prerequisite. The founding fathers of Eindhoven Engine are the knowledge institutions Fontys, TNO and Eindhoven University of Technology and the companies Philips Healthcare, Signify, ASML, VDL, NTS and NXP. Eindhoven Engine’s funds come from the Brainport Region Deal.

Eindhoven Engine gives green light to new innovation projects collectively worth €16.8 million

With an investment of over €2.2 million, various challenging, innovative projects with potential impacts on society and the economy are being given space within Eindhoven Engine. Together, these projects represent an investment of €16.8 million. The money for the Eindhoven Engine OpenCall comes from the Regio Deal Brainport.

Following the submission deadline of 4 June, a team of experts has examined the 11 projects submitted. Each of the projects was first assessed against formal criteria which had been published in advance and which set a high quality standard. Paul Merkus, coordinator of the OpenCall: “The text of the OpenCall 2020 was clear, which allowed the evaluation process to run smoothly and fairly. The team of experienced, independent experts was able to determine the ranking of the nine eligible proposals on the basis of these criteria. I’m proud of that.” Yesterday, the Advisory Board of Eindhoven Engine – with representatives from the knowledge institutions TU/e, TNO and Fontys and the business community – also gave a positive recommendation on the proposed selection of projects.

“We see a nice mix of diversity in the consortia.
Eindhoven Engine is picking up
more and more steam.”

“In this time of the corona pandemic in particular, we see a great need for innovation. Companies and knowledge institutions have worked together intensively to come up with strong project proposals,” add directors Katja Pahnke and Maarten Steinbuch. “We therefore see a nice mix of diversity in the consortia. Eindhoven Engine is picking up more and more steam.” The projects are highly diverse in their focus: climate, vitality, health and smart manufacturing.

“Co-creation and co-location are the basic ingredients for unlocking collective intelligence in order to give a boost to innovation: this is Eindhoven Engine’s way of working. We look forward to the participating consortia soon becoming part of our ecosystem.”

Katje Pahnke, Maarten Steinbuch & Paul Merkus

Eindhoven Engine

Eindhoven Engine unlocks the collective intelligence in the Brainport region. Thanks to a unique formula, innovators from companies can join forces with students and experienced employees from knowledge institutions in order to work together to accelerate innovation and realize disruptive co-creation projects in which co-location is a prerequisite. The founding fathers of Eindhoven Engine are the knowledge institutions Fontys, TNO and Eindhoven University of Technology and the companies Philips Healthcare, Signify, ASML, VDL, NTS and NXP. Eindhoven Engine’s funds come from the Brainport Regio Deal.



OpenCall 2020 projects

Carbyon DAC

Humanity is facing an unprecedented challenge: global warming, driven by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil sources such as oil and gas. However, these emissions, if captured, can be a renewable carbon source with applications such as crop growth and sustainable fuel synthesis. Carbyon will develop Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into a green substitute to fossil fuels. As the global demand for renewable carbon will increase once the price level reaches €50 per ton of CO2, Carbyon is challenging multidisciplinary teams within Eindhoven Engine to collaboratively improve the main cost drivers of DAC technology.

Partners: Carbyon, DIFFER, TU/e

Efficient Comfortable School Indoor Air Quality

Installations in buildings are responsible for around 35% of all energy consumption, approximately 20% of which is due to inefficient operations. Inferior environmental conditions within classrooms can have both short- and long-term health effects, mainly due to the presence of particulate matter. With greater insights into sensors, data interpretation, trend signaling, continuous monitoring, fault detection/diagnosis and predictive maintenance, problems can be identified in the Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems of schools. The ECoS-IAQ project focuses on the creation of product development concepts for air handling manufacturers, air filter manufacturers, control companies and installers.

Building G100, Camfil, ISSO, Kropman, Lucas Onderwijs, NedAir, TU/e


Smart Manufacturing aims to improve factory efficiency by optimizing production processes, but SMEs often lack the capacity to create innovation in this domain. Bringing together Eindhoven Engine, Fontys, TNO and Brainport Industries Campus, the SmartMan project comprises research into various facets of smart manufacturing, including robot-assisted manufacturing, data sharing, industrial AI, virtual reality and autonomous transport. Student projects will be executed at SMEs with the goal of developing knowledge, technology and methods for combining quality, automation and flexibility in manufacturing. Success will be measured in terms of the economic value of improvements per project and company.

Partners: Fontys, TNO, Smart Industry Fieldlab Flexible Manufacturing partners, VDL, VBTI and several SMEs


The iHeat@Home project contributes to a breakthrough innovation in thermal energy storage: a heat battery which is better, cheaper, smaller and greener than any competitor. This will accelerate the energy transition, promote the development of renewable energy sources, reduce grid investments and create new business. This is all happening here in the Brainport region. iHeat@Home focuses on solutions for real-time data on the heat battery’s state-of-charge and its optimal data management, with three coherent solutions: 1. The basis for a sensor which is robust and cheap; 2. Communication protocols and data management; 3. Integration in a validated, user-ready heat battery. The aim is to bring this technology to the market by 2023.

Caldic, Fontys, TNO, TU/e, Warmtebatterij BV

POWer FITTing 
FITTing Persons’ vitality and optimizing their Work Environment

In an increasingly competitive global economy, physical inactivity and burnout rates are increasing. Sustainable employability based on good physical and mental health is therefore crucial, preventing absenteeism and also reducing healthcare costs. POWer FITTing optimizes the relationship between vitality and the (home) office environment through the combination of data acquisition, integration and application for the validation and acceleration of user-oriented solutions. By taking into account individual, societal and contextual factors, this enables employees to remain both healthy and productive. This benefits companies, individuals and wider society.

Fontys, HC Oranje-Rood, IMEC, TNO, TU/e

towards an artificial womb

Following their birth, each child faces a physiological transition from mother-placental life support to (self-sufficient) life outside the womb. For some premature babies, this transition occurs too quickly. This places a heavy demand on the child’s immature vital organs, which is why extremely premature babies often experience serious, lifelong health problems with possible social consequences. As a trial in recent years, premature lambs have successfully been kept alive in a fluid-based environment, allowing them to develop in the same way as in the womb. The results are also promising for human application. The WOMBATH consortium will develop a medical device – an artificial womb – that supports the safe development of extremely premature babies outside of the womb. Ultimately, these infants will have better health prospects than premature infants with conventional care.

Partners: LifeTec Group, Máxima Medical Center, MEDSIM, NEMO Healthcare, POLIMI, RWTH Aachen, TU/e