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Foreword Entrepreneurship with ambition and passion As chairman of the Strategy Board Innovation Twente, it gave me great pleasure to accept the invitation to write the foreword for this VentureLab booklet. We live and work in a rapidly changing and complex world, where there are great developmental differences between industries and regions. We see that we can no longer build on the routines of the past in order to develop. To be able to make a difference, we need to innovate not only in the area of products and services, but also in the area of processes and systems. Limiting ourselves to local markets is no longer a tenable option either. As entrepreneurs, we need to come up with new solutions and explore new markets if we are to remain successful. In doing so, we need to develop a good view of the whole value chain of products and services on which we want to focus, and ﬁnd good strategic partners in order to reinforce our position. All of this takes ambition and passion: the ambition and passion to explore, to innovate and to persevere. The parties cooperating within Innovatiesprong Twente, such as entrepreneurs, educational institutions and local authorities, aim to inspire and support businesses and organizations in the Twente region in taking up the challenge. The business support programmes and the entrepreneurial community of VentureLab provide support and insight to entrepreneurs, so that they can develop successfully in the dynamic world of today. Kind regards, Herman Hazewinkel
Message We see this reﬂected in VentureLab, where we are receiving a growing number of applications from established businesses. In a few cases, our coaches have supported management with questions concerning business development and marketing strategies. We saw something of the sort with the last group in 2011, in which ﬁve managers from the from the Scientiﬁc Director Chinese steel giant Bao Steel participated. In the second half of this year, they will be returning with a new group. This points directly to another strong side to our programme: our extensive network. The contacts with Bao Steel have encouraged us to expand our network of contacts in Beijing and Shanghai. This immediately creates new export Now that VentureLab has trained over 200 entrepreneurs, we have gained even more knowledge about the origins and opportunities, as China looks set to remain an enormous market that offers openings not only to Germany, but also to growth of entrepreneurial skills, thanks to the input of our participants. The information is stored in a unique database, the ever substantial Dutch manufacturing industry. which we use for further scientiﬁc research. This leads to valid insights into the way in which entrepreneurs act and into the results of their actions. Interaction The combination of and the interaction between science, knowledge, entrepreneurship and innovation will remain the Time and again, we see that entrepreneurial processes do not run in a straight line. As a rule, they are based on more basis for the reorganization of VentureLab. Our services will be provided on several levels in the future. In part, all the criteria than just return on investment. Constant interaction with their customers, their potential market and their participants will attend the same training sessions, but we will also be focusing more on their speciﬁc requirements environment prompts entrepreneurs to make adjustments to both product and service in their business plan. This often or capacities. So it could be the case that we bring ideas or entrepreneurs with great potential into contact with leads to better results and an acceleration of entrepreneurship and growth. possible launching customers more quickly. We will be catering more closely to the entrepreneur as a person and to the competencies he or she still needs to develop. We will also be developing sub-products in the form of half-day There is still insufﬁcient recognition of this fact in the banking sector and the authorities focusing on business plans. modules, in order to give participants practical training in areas such However, it is my opinion – supported by the knowledge gained from VentureLab – that success is just as difﬁcult to as strategy, ﬁnance and intellectual property management. predict as the lack of success. This is conﬁrmed by venture capitalists. They have strict selection procedures and yet few of the businesses they choose reach great stature. In other words, even the venture capitalists do not know in advance what Furthermore, we are considering participating (up to a maximum ideas will be successful, despite their expertise. risk-bearing share still to be determined) in start-ups with a strong likelihood of success, which are also affected by fewer Reorganization subsidy opportunities at the moment. This idea still needs further These insights form the guidelines for the reorganization of our programme. Now that the generous support of our development, as it requires the foundation of a new legal body, subsidizers has been discontinued, we are faced with the challenge of taking more business-like action and proving that among other things. One ﬁnal relevant development is the increasing we can stand on our own feet. Thanks to the subsidies, we have built a ﬁrm foundation to do so. interest from local municipalities, and other authorities and organizations. The Netherlands is too small for ten VentureLabs; We retain our ambition to forge stronger links between entrepreneurship and innovation. In contrast to the rather elastic new collaborative ventures could be the vehicles for expanding our general use of the term, we deﬁne innovation as the creation of value through renewed products or production processes, knowledge-sharing. And for generating income, as an innovative often in conjunction with the development or use of new technology. Entrepreneurship is an essential condition for concept like VentureLab also demands good entrepreneurship. achieving results in innovation, as a good idea does not automatically produce a successful business product. An increasing number of larger companies are switching to corporate entrepreneurship and developing innovative ideas Prof. Dr. Aard J. Groen or concepts in smaller units. At the same time, they are working on strengthening the entrepreneurial skills of those Scientiﬁc Director of NIKOS and involved, in order to develop concepts into new products or services with added value for the market. Professor of Innovative Entrepreneurship
Message from the Programme Director And we don’t do this alone. VentureLab is also a safe environment in which participants can inspire one another and encourage each other to push back frontiers. In this eighth group, we’ve seen once again how entrepreneurs help each other to go further and come up with new ideas. There is great mutual solidarity and collegiality. Many participants The participants in our eighth group, whose interviews follow, subconsciously emphasize the broad scope of name this solidarity as one of the strengths of our programme. VentureLab. There were more of them than in any previous group and they were certainly no less varied. What strikes me is that some entrepreneurs in this group have huge potential. Furthermore, they have great allure and are also Business model known outside their own circles. Take Genalice, for example, who won the National ICT Innovation Award, and Meanwhile, we are working on our own business model. We were able to set up VentureLab thanks to generous Axiom-IC, who won the Van den Kroonenberg Award, presented to a business afﬁliated with the University of Twente subsidies. As a rule, small businesses and start-ups don’t have the means to be able to participate in a programme like that stands out for its innovative products or operational management. Actuant, the listed American parent company of ours. Partly thanks to VentureLab, dozens of businesses have now taken off and can offer jobs to a total of over 400 Power-Packer, presented its subsidiary with two innovation awards. The company from Oldenzaal expressly involved people. So there are demonstrable results – also on a social level. VentureLab in the acclaim it received. These subsidies will be discontinued at the end of 2012. And there are other remarkable events as well. The new car company Vencer, which focuses on the development and VentureLab will keep going strong, however, since our production of high-end racing cars, has now ﬁnished its ﬁrst model and is ready to conquer the world market. Another programme continues to generate more and more interest. participant, AAA Concepts, presented an electric fun car during its time at VentureLab. But of course these special Moreover, we can open up even further, as we are no longer results and events in no way detract from the achievements of the other participants. obliged by the subsidies to focus on the eastern part of the Netherlands. We will be spreading our wings, for example by Larger companies forging links in the Groningen region in the ﬁeld of energy. This eighth group has also demonstrated what we suspected earlier, i.e. that VentureLab can also provide added value We will also put more emphasis on approaching and serving to larger companies or companies that have been around longer. This category remained largely off our radar for a long the aforementioned larger companies. But alongside that, time, as our focus was on start-ups from the eastern part of the Netherlands, due to technical subsidy considerations we will remain loyal to our original target group and to our (more on that below). But it is precisely these companies that can really use our help. Because of their structure and/or original goal: stimulating real innovation by linking plans and history, they are often not ﬂexible enough to be able to set up and continue successful innovation processes. One answer ideas to entrepreneurship. to this is corporate venturing, or corporate entrepreneurship. It is our ambition to support more companies in this way. Our approach remains pragmatic. Entrepreneurs have no time or need for detailed theoretical debates. So our programme is always pragmatic. Entrepreneurs or their employees have to be able to put it to immediate use. Dr. Rob van Lambalgen Workshops such as ‘business modelling’ and ‘investor readiness’ are structured around this need. It is signiﬁcant that Programme Director they have led to business models being adjusted several times already. At the same time, this regularly enables us to encourage participants to take bigger steps that hardly lead to bigger ﬁnancial risks.
Page 10-11 The road to innovative motion control - Nico Höfte 12-13 Technological revolution in Health & Life Sciences - Bert Reijmerink 14-15 4 Minutes to ﬁnd the right employee - Daan Slütter 16-17 Firm foundation for a new product - Mirjam Bruggink - Beate ten Bokum 18-19 Structuring ambitions for growth - Neil van der Veer 20-21 An archive that’s always accessible - Carl Latka 22-23 Next generation business model - Mirko Uitslag 24-25 No idea is too crazy here - Jan-Jaap Bats 26-27 To ﬁnd the obsolete - Erik Lausberg 28-29 Valuable aerial views - Henrie Wolters 30-31 Story with a good ending - Egbert-Jan Holleman 32-33 Advanced measuring gives more information - Han Leonhart 34-35 Two steps in very advanced X-ray technology - Klaus Bethke 36-37 It all begins with yourself - Erwin Liemburg 38-39 New forms of philanthropic business - Ellen Altena 40-41 New applications to increase the quality of life - Marijn van Os 42-43 Firmer place on the map for design house - Clemens Mensink 44-45 More than just a tent - Martin de Jonge 46-47 Towards sound production processes - Jan Harmen Wiebenga - Johan Hol 48-49 Open mind for the future - Rob IJland 50-51 From education to the business market - Hermien Lubbers 52-53 New markets for solar energy - Ton Koenders 54-55 Innovative knowledge guaranteed - Greald Henstra 56-57 Off the beaten track - Joe WalshContents 58-59 Entrepreneurship is about getting on and doing things - Robert Cobben
This demands a different way of thinking. ‘Besides our traditional focus on operational excellence, we are going to concentrate more on growth and innovation,’ says Höfte. So one of our questions for VentureLab concerned the way in which you realize innovation within an existing organization. To this end, a workshop was organized here for the whole management team. Each year, we make a strategic plan, but here we were faced with the question: “Where will you be in twenty years time?” That was an eye-opener. We are going to focus more on motion control. In that sense, VentureLab has had a positive inﬂuence on our innovation process.’ And the inﬂuence has been felt in other ways too. Höfte tells about the programme’s network and databases. ‘It’s easy to get talking to interested parties and target groups. You also get insight into the latest trends and knowledge. And you come into contact with important sparring partners, through coaching and through talking to other speakers’. The motion control venture opens doors to sectors like solar power, agribusiness, shipping andThe road to the defence industry. So this has made VentureLab a valuable exercise. ‘I knew that the programme focused primarily on starters then, but I thought it would be interesting and refreshing for us too. Our participation was a sort of pilot, as we are the ﬁrst innovative multinational that has registered to take part. And we were pleased with it. VentureLab deﬁnitely has added value for existing companies as well.’ motioncontrol With Power-Packer from Oldenzaal (a subsidiary of Actuant, listed on the American stock exchange), VentureLab is expanding its clientele. It is the ﬁrst multinational to participate in the programme. Business development manager Nico Höfte says, ‘Here, we’ve found a sparring partner to organize growth.’ Power-Packer is a world player in the ﬁeld of electro-hydraulic systems for the automotive, truck and medical segments. ‘Take, for instance, an operating table, a convertible or a truck’s cab-tilt system,’ says Höfte. ‘In order to move a roof or a cab, you need a power mechanism. We have a 40-50% share of this global market. In view of the world economy, we don’t expect this share to grow and that makes us vulnerable.’ Especially in the light of the company’s ambition to double turnover every ﬁve years. ‘So we want to break new ground through market diversiﬁcation, product innovation, tapping emerging markets and acquisition.’ www.power-packer.com
Technological ‘At the time, we didn’t know so much about bioinformatics,’ he remembers. ‘We approached the problem purely from a data processing perspective. That was the key to it, I think.’ Genalice invented the technology to place all medical data, including DNA data, in a broader context. ‘New techniques transform all the data into a clear format, and then revolution signiﬁcantly accelerate the search for new biomarkers with a unique “correlation engine”.’ Things are developing rapidly. Comparative research has recently validated the method. Among other things, it concerns a data set of 58 anonymous people with DNA, RNA and protein data, which includes 3000 times 23,000 in unknown links. The answer arrives within a few seconds, calculated by just one processor. ‘So the smart approach works many times faster and delivers extremely reliable results.’ Ronald Brus, CEO of biotech company Crucell, talks of a “revolution in Health & Life Sciences.”Health & Life As a TOP company, Genalice is now working towards the future. The potential is enormous – for patients, clinics and science. Soon, the technology will be available to all research institutes, with the aim of considerably improving cancer patients’ chances of survival and quality of life. Sciences Bert concludes, ‘Starting up a business demands many different competencies. VentureLab helps to recognize and develop those competencies, which is why I thoroughly recommend it!’ Faster and better cancer diagnosis, and medication tailored to individual patients, resulting in improved effectiveness and fewer dangerous side effects. These could be the results of the method developed by Genalice for www.genalice.com analysing DNA data. ‘This opens up new possibilities for medical research and diagnosis,’ says CEO Bert Reijmerink. Genalice’s innovative analysis method was created thanks to an unconventional approach. At the start of 2010, co-founder Hans Karten, a specialist in the ﬁeld of large-scale, complex data processing, was approached for the ﬁrst time by the medical research world. Specialists there were working on DNA analysis, which is large-scale and complex, and they needed to ﬁnd the right approach.
4 And 4Minutes is proof of this. The number of men and women posting their CV is increasing rapidly. And that’s just what the business needs. ‘Those CVs are the most valuable asset. That’s why employers visit the site. They can make their own choice and only pay when someone actually starts work,’ explains Slütter. He is developing the concept Minutes further with an investor. The company now also provides opportunities for secondment and payrolling. ‘We combine the best of what already exists, in an innovative and unique way, with the ﬂexibility that meets companies’ demands.’ For the time being, 4Minutes is operating only in Twente. But Slütter aims to serve the whole of the Netherlands to ﬁnd within the next few years. This is part of the reason for joining VentureLab. ‘Particularly because of the network, which has already enabled us to contact a payroller and a leading newspaper. The coaching is excellent and so are the ofﬁce facilities. I mention them as well because we’d rather invest in the website and the service than in accommodation.’ the right And with an eye to the future, although Slütter is now assisted by one full-time employee and one intern, the workload could grow to around 10 FTE once the company provides service on a national level. ‘It probably won’t be more than that. We’re thinking of using a franchise model for growth. But ﬁrst we want to get everything set up well in employee Twente. And then the roll-out will follow.’ Four minutes is all it takes. In that space of time, any employer can see whether the employee they’re looking for can be found on www.4minutes.nl. And then they can www.4minutes.nl go straight on to make use of payrolling, if they wish. ‘Our combination of CV database and employment agency is unique, as is our transparency,’ says director Daan SlütterIt couldn’t be simpler. Employers type in the jobs they’re looking for and ﬁnd out in no time whether the 4Minutes CVdatabase has someone for them. ‘Fast, easy and clear,’ stresses Slütter. He thought up the concept when people aroundhim were looking for a job. ‘As a business administrator, it struck me how inefﬁcient employment agencies are.You have to keep registering over and over again. If an employer looks at agency A and you’re registered with B, then hewon’t ﬁnd you. I reckoned things could work differently.
It suits CTS down to the ground. As a contract research organization, the company monitors patient safety and the reliability of research into new medicines, medical aids and treatment methods. The staff ensure that underlying protocols are met. ‘This had already put us on the track of developing new products, such as training courses and digital quality systems,’ says Ten Bokum. ‘And now we want to position HTMA well in the market.’ ‘That was why we came to VentureLab,’ continues Bruggink. ‘But it wasn’t the only reason. I’ve been running CTS on my own for around eighteen years now. It’s gone well. We’re independent, we work without borrowed capital and the lines are short. But now it’s time to professionalize further. The ﬁrst step was to set up a management team. The next is to reformulate our mission, vision and business plan. In order to do so, our MT has had several sessions with two Firm VentureLab coaches. We’re very pleased with how it’s gone. We’d never have got this far in such a short time with just the ﬁve of us.’foundation Ten Bokum says, ‘We’ve laid ﬁrm foundations for our future and we can now go on to build the next level.’ Bruggink nods, ‘Now we’ve got a basis for the stable growth we envisage.’ for a new product Setting up, monitoring and managing clinical research has been the core business of Clinical Trial Service (CTS) for almost twenty years. It is distinctive because of the fact that besides providing services, it also develops products, such as the Hospital Trial Management Application (HTMA), which ensures that all the information about medical research taking place in a hospital is available at every relevant level. Marketing this new product is the reason behind CTS joining VentureLab. The management team and two coaches from VentureLab have also been working on a ﬁrm foundation for CTS. HTMA brings together all the details of academic medical research taking place in a hospital. Director of CTS, Mirjam Bruggink, knows that there is a demand for this. ‘The academic ofﬁce and the Board of Directors of the hospital need Mirjam Bruggink (l) Beate ten Bokum (r) to be aware of what research is taking place. This software application ensures that the relevant information is shared quickly.’ Beate ten Bokum, unit manager of Clinical Operations and Clinical Support, adds, ‘We are not a software company, but we saw this need and picked up on it.’ www.clinicaltrialservice.com
‘We have behavioural scientists, communication scientists and psychologists. This makes us strong both in research and in formulating answers to questions about marketing and policy. But our really distinctive strength is that we can think along with our customers. Research is a powerful tool, but you have to know what you can do with it. Our customers appreciate that. We score 8.4 on customer satisfaction and 8.5 on result usability.’ This is demonstrated by the wide circle of customers and a loyal staff of over 22 FTE. And that just after ten years after starting off as a one-man business. In other words, steady growth. Van der Veer does point out: ‘I think it’s relative. As an entrepreneur, you always want more. We didn’t set out to end up here. We see new opportunities, but you need structure in order to grasp them. At VentureLab, I’ve taken a shot at myself for once – with the coach playing a leading role. We’ve worked intensively on the business model, and that’s provided the necessary structure. We can go further now. Or rather, we’ve gone further already.’Structuring Van der Veer would also like to recommend VentureLab to their customers. ‘As an agency, we’d like to offer our support to make this programme better known. It’s a wonderful initiative that Twente can take pride in. Here, you can ﬁnd answers to questions like “Who do I need?” and “What can I improve?” If we think our customers would beneﬁt from that, we will certainly draw their attention to VentureLab.’ ambitions www.newcom.nl for growth ‘We help our customers to take better decisions. In order to do so, we carry out research, but only as a tool. Our strength lies in the fact that our research data provides real insight for our customers.’ This fact prompted Neil van der Veer, director of Newcom Research & Consultancy, to join VentureLab. ‘We hold up a mirror to our customers. And I wanted to experience that myself now, as we have ambitions to grow as a company.’ The customers range from proﬁt to non-proﬁt. They are active in the banking sector, but also come from local authorities and educational institutions. ‘Just recently, we helped an energy supplier to ﬁnd out what their customers really wanted,’ says Van der Veer.
An archive His customers include GPs, universities and many entrepreneurs. ‘I also want to focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, with one to ﬁfty employees. We have no competition in that segment. We provide the best affordable that’s professional archive system in the Netherlands, which guarantees a more efﬁcient working process. And on top of that, we also give a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Anyone who isn’t satisﬁed gets their money back.’ The market is difﬁcult at the moment, however, due to the economic insecurity. It is time to take the next step. ‘We’ve always developed everything ourselves. It’s high-tech and innovative, yet simple to operate. After one training session of an hour and half, anyone can work with it. And because our product isn’t web-based, people can’t hack into your archive.’ Through VentureLab, Latka came into contact with a private investor involved in computerization systems for accessible hospitals. ‘I’d never have been able to get into that market on my own. Now there are opportunities for growth. We have a team of seven at the moment, but I expect this number may double in the coming ﬁve to ten years. I came to VentureLab so that I could take the next step. But not only did I gain a lot of knowledge here – I also found a business partner. That’s far more than I expected.’ It’s a familiar gripe for many entrepreneurs: mislaying important documents. Flicking through the document ﬁle doesn’t produce anything and they’re not in the drawer either. ‘And yet it’s so easy. In a digital archive, you can always ﬁnd everything, whereas in a physical archive you’re always dependent on choices you made earlier,’ says Carl Latka, director of eDocs.In many organizations, says the entrepreneur, the information is split up – especially since the time-honoured documentﬁle and desk drawer have had to compete with the PC and e-mail. ‘We bring together what belongs together. You will have www.edocs.nlan ordered archive, where you can easily ﬁnd what you’re looking for. This brings structure to your organization and youcan work faster,’ explains Latka. ‘And the process is very simple. If you decide to start a digital archive on 1 January, theneverything will be digital from then on. And then we go on to digitalize anything that’s still in the physical document ﬁles.’
The desire to spread your wings is also a typical trait of family businesses. The second generation often wants to do Next things differently to the ﬁrst. Uitslag, for example, is also chairman of the trade association www.modelmakerijen.org. ‘I already had ideas about how I wanted to develop things. I went to VentureLab to clarify those ideas and enable me to make the right decisions. It’s gone really well, thanks to the fantastic coach.’generation In the long term, this position nearer the front of the chain also means the company will need its own drawing and engineering department. ‘Then we can offer even more added value and take on exceptionally complex orders. The trend towards outsourcing to low-wage countries is in decline. Our customers want quality, and they know we make no concessions in that regard. We’re closer to home than the Far East, and that offers more ﬂexibility.’ business The current staff of ﬁfteen looks set to double or even triple in the coming years. Uitslag says, ‘It’s not enough just to have ideas; you also need to be able to execute them. VentureLab’s help in that respect has been wonderful.’ modelMirko Uitslag, director of MMT Technology,knows what direction he wants to take. Thebusiness he has taken over from his father hasto grow. It has to tap new markets and drawnew customers. ‘Mainly by shifting up thechain. If you’re nearer the front, you can offeryour customers much more. What I have inmind is MMT 2.0 or even 3.0.’MMT Technology, founded in 1978, was originally a classic example of a model and mould manufacturer. In the nineties,computers appeared on the scene. ‘That’s fantastic. You can work so accurately with them, down to tenths of millimetres,’says the director proudly. However, there is a ‘but’, as MMT is currently quite far down the chain. Customers only turn upwhen the design is ready for the actual manufacture of models or moulds. ‘I want to move further up that chain. If we www.mmt.nlextend our share in the process, either on our own or with partners, we can relieve customers of some of their work andoffer them so much more. Maybe even as a total service provider. There is a market for it, consisting of manufacturingindustries in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France.’
Nevertheless, making the dream come true has its downside. ‘Suddenly, you’re your own boss, but you work from your own home. And I’ve noticed that means you miss a lot. Entrepreneurship is interaction with other people; reﬂecting,No idea is stimulating, encouraging and challenging each other in order to stretch your boundaries. That’s what I’ve found at VentureLab. Here, you ﬁnd the climate in which an entrepreneur feels at home. Where there’s space for ideas.’ And that’s just what Bats is looking for. ‘Video is dynamic. Hip. Here, we had the idea of making a mobile studio desk. too crazy We can use it to interview the entrepreneurs in their own companies, sitting at the desk against a background of their choice. It’s professional and extremely efﬁcient. We do a professional job and create value for our clients at a reasonable price. Here at VentureLab everything just fell into place at once.’ here And looking to the future, Bats says, ‘You have to transform ideas into a concept and strategy following the Kiss formula: ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid.’ If you ﬁnd the right balance between fun, life and results, you’ll be successful. I have the feeling that things don’t stop here. I still want to do much more on the interface between people, creativity and proﬁts. I’d never have got this far without VentureLab. I’ve really grown here.’Video is the communication medium ofthe future. The ﬁndability of a company orproduct is increasing by a factor of 360. Andﬁlm clips can also be shared easily via socialmedia. ‘In short, there are opportunities here.India and China are appearing on the sceneand we have no time to lose,’ says Jan-JaapBats of Bats Publishing. Since he joinedVentureLab, his entrepreneurship has reallytaken off. ‘No idea is too crazy here. It givesyou an incredible amount of energy.’And Bats is indeed bursting with enthusiasm. ‘I started off in the world of printed media. Five years ago, I saw YouTube. www.batspublishing.nlEureka! That was the future. That was what I wanted to do. I’d been dreaming of making video productions for a whilealready and now my moment had come. Video is creative and it’s about working with people. You help your clientsincrease their proﬁts and earn your own keep at the same time.’
To ﬁnd And he has gone from strength to strength. ‘Since January 2012, we have also been representing SIL Electronics, a very reliable supplier, who has been delivering to the defence, aviation and space sector since 1975. That has made us a very service-oriented and ﬁnancially secure company. Our strength lies in the fact that this representation gives us direct entry to all the big American manufacturers and we have our own warehouse with over 40 million items.’ the At the same time, Lausberg is working on a more speciﬁc positioning of his company. He anticipates a transformation to Lausberg Solutions. ‘This could include the assembly and testing of cables, PCBs and machines, for example’. His participation in VentureLab is connected to this, although it also links up with Lausberg’s wish to keep on learning obsolete and growing. He says, ‘I’m always looking for opportunities to better myself. What’s more, VentureLab provides you with a coach, which enables you to learn faster, as you don’t have to make all the mistakes yourself ﬁrst.’ The programme has lived up to all his expectations. ‘Focus and perseverance are important. You can take part in lots of training sessions, use tools for market research, set students to work and build up a think-tank of enthusiastic fellow participants with the same sort of problems. You just learn so much here, and it gives you more insight, also on a personal level.’ Sometimes a really technical component seems to be no longer available. Production has been stopped and the distributor has no more stock. At times like that, Erik Lausberg feels like a ﬁsh in water, because it’s ten to one that he can deliver that component.This is the basic principle behind his company Lausberg Products. He also focuses on the delivery of high-techsolutions for high-quality applications. ‘I’m very good at tracking down obsolete parts,’ he says. ‘Sometimes it takes www.sil-electronics.coma lot of detective work and you need to have the right network.’ This talent brings him repeated success in gettingassignments and actually delivering the parts requested. www.lausbergproducts.com
As an architect trained in graphic design, he is passionate about images, architecture and modern technology. This passion inspired him to start up Talmay, an agency for advertising, communication and architectural photography. ‘As an entrepreneur, I want to offer something distinctive. That’s how I got interested in the drone. Straight away, I had the idea of introducing it further in the Netherlands, as the aircraft is used here mainly for “commercial images,” by estate agents, for example. But I also want to provide informative images, e.g. listed buildings and urban planning, and analytical images. The latter, for instance, can help a grower with a water shortage.’ VentureLab has helped Wolters take the necessary steps. Even the requisite permit from the Dutch Ministry of Defence has been granted. ‘It was important to me to gain more entrepreneurial knowledge and competencies, and to come into contact with the latest developments.’ And that has happened. ‘The coaching, in particular, is very important. It keeps you on your toes and makes sure that you focus.’ At the same time, VentureLab provides a relevant network. ‘The importance of a network is underestimated. Here, you meet people from many different branches. In my case, that has led to co-creation with some other entrepreneurs.Valuable Without VentureLab, I would never have met them. You even ﬁnd things you weren’t looking for here. I think that’s one of VentureLab’s extra qualities.’ aerial views Sometimes height is necessary for gathering the right information. For instance, are there cracks in that monumental church tower many metres above ground level? Or that pylon? Can any traces of pollution be seen from the air? Scaffolding is expensive, and so is hiring a helicopter. Aeroscope provides an affordable and reliable alternative. ‘Within a couple of minutes, you see everything,’ promises Henrie Wolters. He pushes a photo across the table. It shows a futuristic-looking drone, which is partly spherical with helicopter blades. Driven by electric motors, the aircraft ascends quickly to the right height and the camera provides the www.talmay.nl required images. ‘The device is manoeuvrable, but it can hover too. The image is very clear and you immediately see what you want to know. Its informative value is high, so there are many possible applications,’ explains Wolters. www.aeroscope.nl
After the summer of 2011, a recruiter turned up very unexpectedly. ‘First, I didn’t want anything to do with it. I was completely involved with my own business. But this job is a perfect match for my dual study background. Eventually, I said yes – and I’ve had no regrets. However, the combination of entrepreneurship and a full-time job Story was really heavy.’ Holleman has used his time with VentureLab mainly to sharpen up his self-insight and to learn new skills. ‘I’ve learned which aspects are important to me. For instance, if I want to set up a business again, I know that with a I ﬁrst need a team and that I have to be selective in forming it. You need to assemble a ‘crazy bunch’ around you. Then there are also organizational and operational elements that need more attention. I’ve learned to adapt better to worlds that aren’t directly my own.’ good ending In his new job, Holleman has found everything he needs and was looking for. He doesn’t know whether he’ll get round to forming his own company again. ‘Never say never. It’s all turned out differently to how I expected, but VentureLab has been very valuable to me.’Egbert-Jan Holleman, electrical engineer and technical business manager, almost went under with his own company.The ﬁrst big order ended in a period of great stress. ‘I didn’t have enough experience as an entrepreneur, and at ﬁrstI didn’t realize that machine builders and software builders don’t always understand one another,’ he reﬂects. For thepast six months, he’s had a job that challenges him on all fronts. ‘It’s a story with a good ending.’‘I really felt like I’d put my head on the block,’ says Holleman with obvious relief. His participation in VentureLabcoincided with the start of the project he’d taken on. ‘The idea was to take my company to a more mature stage, whilemost of the work was carried out by sub-contractors.’ However, it turned out very differently. ‘I was confronted bythings I hadn’t expected. In the end, I completed that project in April 2012.’
Advanced And there are more possibilities. Putting in a modem allows the system to communicate wirelessly. ‘We’ve developed our own web-based application for it, which helps you deal with logistics smartly. By using GPSR technology, computers can communicate without it costing money. And the systems and materials are all KIWA certiﬁed. They also improve safety because they detect leaks. And because you can link the measurement results, you have measuring a tool for managing processes. There are other measuring systems around, but ours is smarter. This is the most advanced system.’ Discussions are underway about entering the German market. That is one of the reasons why Leonhart joined gives VentureLab. And also because it was recommended by Harry Roewen, founding director of IACS and founder of subsidiary company LC Products. He was very enthusiastic about the programme back then. And Leonhart says, ‘I’m already happy just with my coach’s advice to use my day better. That gives me more space to breathe. I also appreciate the added value of the network and the contact with other participants. You’re involved with more each other and can help each other out. That’s something you can’t measure! But you do notice it.’ information www.lc-products.nl LC Products from Rijssen has sold almost 6000 measuring systems for fuel tank contents in the Netherlands. ‘They may not be unique,’ says director Han Leonhart. ‘But they are the smartest and they anticipate demand.’ He is getting ready to enter the German market, which is about ten times as big as his home market in the Netherlands.The basic idea comes from businesses’ wish to be able to measure precisely how full their tanks still are. ‘It’s not sodifﬁcult in principle, but it really becomes exciting when you make intelligent use of that information. And that’s whatour system does,’ says Leonhart. He explains this immediately. ‘If you can measure, then you can also get the systemto show when the tank is full. And then you can operate the overﬁll protection system automatically. We are the onlycompany in the Netherlands offering a KIWA certiﬁed system for doing that.’
The second idea goes one step further. It concerns the development of an X-ray camera with an extremely high-quality image. Bethke wants to improve it and then make it available for broad industrial application. ‘Here at VentureLab, I was told to start with the ﬁrst idea, because the second one costs a lot of time and money. So the plan is to generate income with step 1 for step 2. Then I can show potential investors that I’ve already earned money. My participation here has turned out differently than I expected. I wanted to ﬁnd potential launching customers, but it goes much Two further than that. Through VentureLab, I still come into contact with related businesses and investors.’ Bethke has the ambition to forge stronger links between the worlds of research and industry. ‘They are miles apart.steps in We work in the domain of enabling technology, which is often difﬁcult to translate to the market. There is a lack of matching, whereas this new technology can be of great value and signiﬁcance. I want to build something up that bridges the gap, preferably in complementary collaboration with other small businesses. They’re more ﬂexible than very big organizations.’ In short, Bethke has mapped out his strategy. ‘VentureLab has played a big role in that. Your eyes are constantly being opened here.’advanced X-ray technology First, there are new developments in X-ray computed tomography, in order to improve the examination of materials and medicines. Then there’s the optimization of a super high-tech X-ray camera, which can increase the delivery of visual details and contrasts by a factor of ten. This is the path envisaged by Klaus Bethke. ‘It’s always been my job to know everything, so there’s a good chance of success if I choose the right path’. So Bethke has two ideas. They are linked to his past as a university researcher and as an architect with a big player in the ﬁeld of X-ray technology. ‘Everyone’s already familiar with X-ray computed tomography from the world of medicine, from www.isiray.com CT scans. I want to apply this to small samples of materials. It will allow you to get hundreds, if not thousands of images that you bring together in a 3D model, in which you can examine material for porosity, defects or ﬁssures. You can also examine medicines with it.’
It all Although business was running smoothly, the question arose of how Liemburg was to develop further. And just at that moment, he read about VentureLab in an interview, went to an information meeting and signed up immediately. ‘I thought there was still a lot I could learn; about the correct way of giving quotations, for example, and about Dutch begins with labour law. My coach was always holding a mirror up to me, saying “How do you do this, and why do you do it like that? You’re aiming high, but it has to be feasible.” That gave me food for thought.’ yourself Gradually, after the second panel presentation, a more pertinent question arose. ‘The coach asked if I was happy with the things I was doing. Well, actually I wasn’t. So the most important thing I’ve learned here is to take a good look at myself. What do I want? That doesn’t mean I’m going to do different things, but that I’m going to do things differently. Things will come more from myself and in a more balanced way, in order to take my family into account, who are also very important to me.’ There’s still plenty to think about, such as Liemburg’s unique selling point. He concludes, ‘VentureLab has been a quest for me; an awakening – and a productive one, too. It all begins with myself. From this new balance, I can work on innovation. There’s a lot more potential in websites, and especially mobile websites. I’ve got some great ideas for that, and I’m going to develop them.’He’s full of plans and has a successful one-man business. Erwin Liemburg founded Cocomedia (digital creativeagency) in 2006 with the idea of improving existing websites and creating better new ones from scratch. It’s hardwork, on a “time is money” basis. ‘I was wondering how to take the next step, so I applied for VentureLab.’Liemburg can talk at length about websites, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. ‘The interaction between people www.cocomedia.nland technology could often be much better. Your website is your shop window, so you have to think hard beforehandabout what it will look like. It’s not a brochure. It has to be useful to the visitor, who is looking for something there.Not to mention websites for smart phones. They need a totally different approach’.
New The prototype was presented in the summer of 2011. ‘Though we’re continuing development, we’re putting it on the back burner for a while. At the moment, there’s no market for an electric fun car like this. Of course, we’ll be keeping our eye on it, and we’ll continue to develop the drive line.’ That also means more time can be invested in the two other businesses in the same holding. The ﬁrst is Maarkel Bouw, a contracting ﬁrm with a special focus on forms sustainability and craftsmanship. Invence, the second business, helps installers to integrate domotics systems. They are now housed in the aforementioned farm, which Maarkel Bouw is restoring. ‘Sustainably,’ stresses Altena. ‘So that the farm subsequently has energy label A.’ of Later on, the historic complex will be able to house many more businesses, which can be assisted by students and trainees. ‘A sort of innovation hub,’ says Altena. ‘With small, ﬂexible businesses, where entrepreneurs and students inspire each other. It will create a network; a sort of philanthropic business society.’ This society is also reminiscent of VentureLab. ‘What I really enjoyed here was meeting people; learning together and from one another. As an philanthropic ex-trainee of the Saxion Fast Forward programme, I was familiar with much of the material in the workshops, but the ﬁnancial training sessions were very welcome. And so was the coach. What appeals to me is the combination of master classes and interaction with other participants. I’ve learned a lot of new things.’ business www.invence.nl A historic farm in the heart of Twente is growing into a centre of innovative entrepreneurship. Its members include a contractor focusing on sustainability, a specialist in domotics and www.maarkelbouw.nl the designer of an electric fun car. They are accompanied by students and trainees.‘It will create a new network of small businesses, with people who keep each other on the ball,’ foresees Ellen Altena.The story starts with AAA (said ‘Triple A’) Concept Cars. The ﬁrst capital A stands for ‘Achterhoek’, a region inthe east of the Netherlands that borders Twente. The other two A’s stand in Dutch for ‘Authentiek’ (authentic)and ‘Anders’ (different). It is an initiative of entrepreneur Herbert Weekhout, former director of Rotor, the producer ofelectric motors in Eiberg. ‘He had the idea of developing an electric fun car,’ says Altena, the project leader of Triple A.‘The aim has always been to involve entrepreneurs and students from the region. That provides a challenging,stimulating atmosphere, with plenty of space for corporate social responsibility.’
New This is not an exhaustive list. Van Os names some other possible applications. ‘We took over the patent from Philips to make a mechanical mirror from silicon, which is small, accurate and fast. The next step was to determine howapplications we could apply this technology in an innovative way. Once you have ideas for that, you go on to the research and development phase, making speciﬁc choices and ﬁnding investors.’ Many steps have been taken already. Innoluce is setting up its headquarters in Nijmegen and has opted for a fabless to increase set-up. The business does its own designs and sales, but outsources production. ‘We do put components together, so we can carry out the ﬁnal checks ourselves,’ says Van Os. ‘The focus is on the application for the printers, as it concerns very large numbers. We aim to deliver signiﬁcant quantities in 2014. And in 2013, we aim to have a probe ready for the medical world. There’s already a lot of interest in it.’the quality And the role of VentureLab? ‘Our co-founder Bruco drew my attention to it. It’s a good concept. It tries to give very deliberate and focused help to entrepreneurs. I’ve gained a lot from the various introductions and workshops, and of life from the coach.’‘An emerging MEMS (Micro-electromechanicalsystems) mirror company’, is how Innolucedescribes itself on the website. Using thepatents of founding fathers Philips and BrucoIntegrated Circuits, it is preparing for the furtherdevelopment of mirror technology for miniaturelaser scanning and putting it in the market.‘We enable new applications that increase the www.innoluce.comquality of life’, says CEO Marijn van Os.Innoluce’s technology is ideal for improving the quality of laser printers, for example. The start-up time is shorter and themachine prints faster. Progress can also be made in the ﬁeld of medical diagnostics. ‘Our mirror ﬁts into a catheter witha 2.5 mm diameter. That can be important in taking a biopsy; not only in determining the correct placement, but also inanalysis. It’s feasible that treatment could start during the same consultation.’
Firmer place Axiom-IC has been around for almost ﬁve years. In that space of time, the number of staff has increased from seven to twenty. ‘Analogue design is a rare competency,’ says Mensink, when asked for an explanation of this growth. Yet he thinks that more should be possible, as it’s also an essential competency. ‘We’re high-tech and well-trained, on and we deliver high quality, but many customers ﬁnd our company more or less by chance. We need to do something about that; place ourselves more ﬁrmly on the map. We’re hard at work developing a new audio ampliﬁer, but marketing it is going too slowly in my view. And in the long term, we want to make our own chip for niche markets.’the map Decisions need to be made. And there has to be support for justifying those decisions. ‘That’s what brought me to VentureLab. Mainly for my personal development and in relation to our growth. In that sense, I’ve found what I was looking for. Our aim is to continue to grow and possibly employ thirty to forty people in ﬁve years’ time. And for our own product, we’ll probably need investors or a lead customer. Fortunately, the University of Twente has a good international name in our ﬁeld. And VentureLab can help to open even more doors.’ for design house www.axiom-ic.com Axiom-IC is one of those high-tech companies that operate in a global market. As a fabless design house for electronic circuits on a chip, it focuses on converting from analogue to digital. ‘It’s a very abstract profession, involving a lot of maths and physics. Not sexy, but essential,’ explains co-founder Clemens Mensink. ‘There’s potential for growth here – and for the development of our own chip for niche markets’. Mensink knows from experience that it’s always difﬁcult to explain to outsiders precisely what Axiom-IC does, because it is so specialized. ‘We design chips or parts of chips,’ he says. ‘We focus on converting from analogue to digital and vice versa. A microphone, for instance, is analogue. So is a loudspeaker. Your laptop is digital, but the signal to your router is analogue. Signals therefore have to be continuously converted. The demands made on this process are increasing all the time. The quality requirements for audio equipment are getting higher and higher, and transmission speeds need to increase continually.’
This is what prompted him to join VentureLab. He wants to address the concrete question of what he can do to position his company in the east of the Netherlands. ‘And there’s also the question of innovation. I want to offer a tent that is both water and dirt repellent. That leads you into the area of nanotechnology. And I also want to expand my market; for example, with a custom-made tent for luxury camping sites. I have to start shaping all these ideas, and that’s why I came to VentureLab.’ Besides the workshops, De Jonge has found his coach really helpful. ‘She came up with critical questions,’ he says. ‘She asked about my ideas, and about possible alternative designs and materials. She also kept questioning my target groups and the way I reach them. In this way, she taught me to look at things from a different angle.’ More The entrepreneur is now hard at work on further developments, with an ambitious and realistic approach. ‘We’re living in a recession. I see that as an opportunity. I can use this period to broaden my selection, improve and innovate my product and adapt my business model. Every customer wants to be unique, and I intend to turnthan just that to my advantage. Once the economy recovers, I’ll be ready – with thanks to VentureLab.’ a tentIt was a photo on the internet that gave Martin de Jonge the idea. It showed an Indian tent of a model virtually unknownin Western Europe, made of fabrics that conjure up a special atmosphere with their printed motifs. The pictures took hisbreath away. ‘I thought they were so incredibly beautiful. And suddenly I knew that I could do something with this.’Three years on, De Jonge now has his own company, Maharadja Tents. He has erected them for renowned clients such asthe Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Koninklijke Schouwburg in The Hague. The atmosphere really appeals,as an Indian tent has a lot more also to offer than your average party tent. ‘My target group is predominantly in theconurbation of western Holland. I would also like to work more in the east of the country, as that’s where I live, but therea tent is just a tent, rather than the fancy tents I offer.’ www.maharadja-tenten.nl
There are obvious advantages. A sound process will ensure improved quality, reliability and efﬁciency. The software also enables the user to design more quickly and cheaply. ‘You can incorporate the distribution of environmental factors, such as differences in temperature or in the thickness of the material used. That is really innovative and something that makes us unique,’ says Hol. Towards The ﬁrst customers, from the car and steel industry, have already signed up. The duo is also working on promotional research. ‘We have an excellent and unusual product. But the question is how we can best position it in the market. We were put on the track of VentureLab by both the University of Twente and the M2i research institute,’ Wiebenga sound continues. ‘Scientiﬁc research is totally different to entrepreneurship. Here, we’ve learnt to ask ourselves how we can offer added value to the customer. Customers have to be able to proﬁt from our product.’ That product has also come up for discussion within VentureLab, to ﬁnd an appropriate business model. Innprove production wants to work on the basis of active cooperation with launching customers and research institutes. ‘We want to join forces to create an even better software product,’ says Wiebenga. ‘In addition, it’s easy to scale up software, whereas consultancy services are charged at astronomical hourly rates.’ And Innprove can become even more distinctive by opting for an innovative business model. ‘There are a few companies in the world doing the same as us, but we are processes more innovative. We aim to become an important player in Europe and further aﬁeld,’ concludes Hol. Although the company is only in its starting phase, the customers are already queuing up. That’s the position of Innprove Solutions, the start-up of Jan Harmen Wiebenga and Johan Hol. Their software helps users to make production processes sound and to limit fall-out and wastage in the design phase already.Innprove is an abbreviation of Innovative Improvements. The name refers to the company’s core business. ‘We makesoftware to simulate and improve production processes. For example, by entering data about the material and therequired process, you can work out what will happen in advance,’ explains Wiebenga. Hol adds, ‘Take, for instance, Johan Hol (l) Jan Harmen Wiebenga (r) www.innprovesolutions.comthe production of a car bonnet. A sheet of steel is pressed into the right shape. Our software identiﬁes errors that mayotherwise only come to light during production, and corrects them through the process design. And all this happensbefore production begins.’
Yet IJland appears to be keeping cheerful despite everything. It helps that he managed to ﬁnd a job quite quickly in business ﬁnancial services. ‘I can put a lot of energy into that. I have to set up a new company, so I need to Open show entrepreneurial skills,’ he says. The insights he has gained at VentureLab are equally applicable there. ‘Take the canvas business model, for example; I can use that for all my employer’s big business contacts. And then there are the comprehensive and often inspiring training sessions, and the way in which you get to know yourself better here. I’ve had a fantastic time here, also because of the other participants. You learn so mind much here. It broadens your life.’ IJland sees down-to-earth honesty as one of VentureLab’s extra qualities. The coach, the teachers and the for the supervisors stick to reality. ‘They have your best interests at heart, but they don’t play up to you. I appreciate that critical attitude, it’s kept me out of trouble. The people here really give you proper advice, which as I said already I can put to good use in my new job. And who knows, maybe one day as a self-employed entrepreneur as well. I’m not ruling anything out.’ futureIt looked really promising. Fan2Connect, the company with which Rob IJland aimed to introduce a new marketingconcept, seemed sure of a good future. But the time to market turned out to be too lengthy and too expensive.‘And then you have to dare to make decisions,’ he laughs. ‘But the idea of a business of my own still appeals to me.Who knows....?’Fan2Connect was going to provide a full service concept to enable retail businesses to approach the right peopleat the right moment, on the basis of personalized e-mail combined with social media. ‘I developed it at variouslevels, with help from a specialist in e-commerce from the University of Twente, support from the Dutch Chamber of firstname.lastname@example.orgCommerce and advice from a real entrepreneur in the ﬁeld of textiles. It’s just too soon, and it’s really not feasiblein the short term. I was told the same thing in a panel presentation here as well. I thought I’d found a launchingcustomer, but they backed out. And that was that – I can’t justify carrying on with it.’
“Competent at work” enables A-Vision to make productive use of the lax periods during school holidays. There’s aFrom education story attached to this, stresses Lubbers. ‘My husband and I are education folk. Of course, we’re entrepreneurs too – but different entrepreneurs in the fact that we employ a relatively high number of young disabled people. We’re not always interested in hard targets.’ to the The question of how A-Vision could best appeal to the business market with “Competent at work” was what took her to VentureLab. ‘I had a wonderful coach. We strengthened our contacts with a company that was interested in us. But I’ve noticed that a business like ours, with a social background, is a bit of an odd man out here. I’ve also come to realize that we have a wonderful business, which is very sound ﬁnancially, with lots of potential business for growth. We think it’s important to enable people with a disability to develop further, either with or through A-Vision. The coach really took this into consideration, based on a business approach.’ And she adds, ‘I may seem a bit critical, but I’ve really enjoyed my time here. Also because of the contact with market other entrepreneurs, who sometimes have really exciting and stimulating ideas. It’s a very special world, and I’m sure I’m going to miss it.’ A-Vision is a reputable education consultancy. In ten years’ time, it has built up a good name in the ﬁelds of pupil placement and giving recommendations for special education. It was also the ﬁrst organization to offer digital testing. ‘Now we’ve developed a totally new product, called “Competent at work”, with which we aim to serve the business market,’ says Hermien Lubbers, who is co-founder and co-director with her husband. A-Vision combines much of its knowledge and expertise in this new product. ‘Our strength lies in our three cornerstones of research, analysis and advice, which we combine in a new online selection method. Employers notify us of a job vacancy and ﬁll in a questionnaire to inform us of the competencies, experience and motivation they are looking for. Job seekers also ﬁll in the questionnaire. We then compile a report of which candidates are the best match. This report can then be used by employers in job interviews,’ explains Lubbers. www.a-vision.nu
After a few intermediate steps, this led to the foundation of Inteqnion Solar in 2011, which now has a staff of nine. ‘I approached the Ottevanger Group, in Aalten, which has been around since 1909 and is globally active in engineering and constructing complexes for the production of animal feed. If you want to do something with solar energy, you need a sound ﬁnancial basis. Ottevanger believes in it, as efﬁcient solar installations could be very interesting for clients in Europe and other countries where the Ottevanger group is active.’ New Meanwhile, another idea was born: a van with a mobile presentation to convince the private market of the potential of solar energy. Koenders wanted help from VentureLab in developing this idea. ‘We’ve altered course slightly now. Inteqnion Solar focuses on B2B in part, but also on end users, preferably through corporations. In the van, I show markets people the house of the future. It ﬁts in with our business. We give advice, do installations and provide monitoring systems, and can calculate the payout time. We also do development, in collaboration with others.’ Inteqnion Solar has collaborated, for example, on for creating the sustainable garden designed by Nico Wissing and Lodewijk Hoekstra at the Floriade in Venlo. ‘The private market will soon be booming solar energy with lots of activity. I want to be the Albert Heijn (a Dutch supermarket chain) of solar energy.’ And VentureLab has helped realize this. ‘You learn a lot about innovative entrepreneurship and marketing here. The canvas business model teaches you to focus. And you develop – also through the inspiring contact with other participants.’In the coming years, solar energy will grow into a booming business. Ton Koenders, director of Inteqnion Solarin Aalten, is convinced of this. ‘It’s the future – for the private market as well. Even in the Netherlands, you canuse it to make houses self-supporting in their energy requirements.’ So he is approaching two markets: one forbusinesses and one for end users.He got into it more or less by chance. As a former mechanical engineering student at the University of Twente, he www.iq-solar.comspent a long time on project management, for instance in developing and constructing a money printing machine.Solar energy entered his life in 2004. ‘Someone asked me if I knew anything about it. So I immersed myself inthe subject.’
He thinks you ought to be able to do it faster. And his tool helps you do just that. ‘Everyone posts their ﬁndings and experiences on it. A set of questions is completed for each message, creating a network of things that are going on, and recording where to ﬁnd the knowledge. This is particularly useful for organizations developing complex knowledge. Everything is recorded and returns to the organization from the minds of the employees. So ideas are spread further and faster.’ But where does the tool go from here? Henstra says, ‘I’m a designer, not a salesperson, and I don’t have any people around who can sell it for me. And it’s still abstract; there’s no proof of the pudding as yet.’ That’s where VentureLab Innovative came in. ‘I went to an information meeting and I felt that this could be something for me.’ He’s pleased with the results. The potential for his product has been acknowledged, he knows how to develop furtherknowledge personally, and a team is being created. ‘I’ve also found that the coach, teachers and trainers are genuinely interested in you and your idea. They are most human. They’re proactive and you don’t have to ask for anything. I’ve learnt that I have to keep focused on research and development. That’s where my strength lies. Now I have to ﬁnd an organization or network in order to demonstrate the added value of my tool.’ guaranteed Every innovative organization will recognize this problem. Suddenly, the need for speciﬁc knowledge arises. Who can help? And how can that knowledge be guaranteed? And will other new insights remain intact? The tool developed by Greald Henstra provides the answer. Henstra, originally an industrial designer, is familiar with this problem. ‘I’ve come up against it often enough during product development and innovation processes. Suddenly, somebody needs to know something special; knowledge that isn’t part of the daily routine. It’s a key problem, as everything is new. So you ask around, www.ghvernuft.nl trying to ﬁnd someone who can provide the answer; through the grapevine. Later, as a lecturer in business development at the University of Groningen, I did some research that showed it takes an average of six steps to obtain the information you need.
The two entrepreneurs think there is deﬁnitely a market for it. It is a way of travelling that will appeal to tourists Off from New Zealand and Australia, and maybe even travellers from China, as well as European youngsters or other people wanting a more adventurous holiday. They’ve seen it work in London, where a similar approach hit the bull’s eye. The initiator started off with thirty vehicles, but had ninety on the road in next to no time. In his second season, the number of bookings rose by 450%. the However, the actual execution still needs some preparation. The couple’s hope of attracting an investor from New Zealand is faced with uncertainty about the Euro. ‘We are getting lots of support and advice, but we are still beaten looking for investors or partners,’ says Walsh. Nevertheless, the website is already being created – in Dutch, German, English and Chinese. ‘Think big!’ laughs Keuning. The couple feel supported by VentureLab. ‘The backing and the name-dropping are great,’ says Keuning. And Walsh track adds, ‘They think along with you really well, and if you want something they arrange it for you. That’s true quality.’ email@example.comIt’s still a romantic idea – exploring New Zealand in a camper van. Eating and sleeping as you go and no hasslewith hotels or camping sites. As free as a bird. Joe Walsh and Alice Keuning want to introduce this idea to Europe.‘It’s a totally new concept over here.’Actually, the concept has two parts to it. Firstly, Keuning and Walsh want to provide the camper vans. But theyare also working on a complete folding interior: the Hit The Road Kit, which will allow any average delivery vanto provide sleeping places, cooking facilities and a shower. ‘It’ll take you quarter of an hour to put it together andanother ten minutes to set it up. Then you can make a real road trip through Europe,’ explains Keuning.‘We’re still working on the kit,’ adds Walsh. He’s aiming for a high-tech approach, by using ultralight materials,which are easy to fold and take up little space. ‘It’d be possible to sell the kit separately. You take it with you and Alice Keuning (l) Joe Wals (r)you can even make a road trip with your own car. Completely off the beaten track.’
Entrepreneurship Vencer (Spanish for “conqueror”) is in a niche market. It will be an exclusive brand with distinctive high-tech elements, which meets the strictest safety requirements. ‘It’s all down to the creativity of the team, the freelancers who work for us and the cooperation with our supplying OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). Our partners are already saying is about that we’re making something really special.’ It will be a limited edition. ‘We’re thinking of a few dozen cars in total. We want to stay in the high-quality, hand-built segment. That’s a very special market. People who want a car like that don’t want to be targeted. They look around getting on themselves. We need to ensure that we’re well-known and that people look for us. That’s why, after a year and a half of quiet development and construction, we started the release in May.’ and Cobben has thought out every last detail. ‘I’m not a beginner anymore. VentureLab has been important to me because of the network, the access to innovation subsidies and the chance to meet other entrepreneurs. And it’s up to me to make the decisions, along with my team.’ doing things Robert Cobben gets out his iPhone and shows me a picture of a sports car. It’s beautiful and whiter than white. It’s also high-end, i.e. it belongs in the top market segment along with Lamborghini and Spyker. But this is a Vencer, a new brand aiming for world-wide recognition. ‘Entrepreneurship is about getting on and doing things. You’ve got to aim high.’ ‘Pure love,’ says Cobben. ‘I just love beautiful sports cars. Why shouldn’t I make them myself?’ It sounds almost a matter of course. ‘It’s been done before. With a good team, it ought to work.’ These are the words of a seasoned entrepreneur. www.vencer.nl Following the sale of his two installation ﬁrms, he decided to get this new high-end car brand off the ground. Right from scratch. ‘I was convinced I could do it, if I could just ﬁnd the right team. And I have the advantage of being fresh to it and free. I’m unbiased, so that I can bring new insights to it. We’ve got seven people working on it now and the sports car will be coming out this year. We’ve already done the initial testing and now we’re busy with an engineering car. We’re also already at work on the ﬁrst customer car.’
Now is the time to realize your ambitionsVentureLab Twente is part of the Innovation Route Twente and is co-ﬁnanced by the European Fund for Regional Development, the provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland and the Twente region. Here we invest in your future.