In July 2018, HighTechXL pivoted from a high tech accelerator to a deep tech venture building effort ... and an historic alliance with CERN to take to market the latest tech from the world's largest particle physics lab.
Then in November 2018, HighTechXL launched three startups built around the particle research center in Switzerland, and three CERN technologies – CO2 cooling, a long-distance structured laser beam and a compact high-frequency particle accelerator.
All three of those startups – Incooling, Aircision and Dynaxion – have been by startup standards home runs, raking in investments and getting global publicity.
And while it was all Guus Frericks’ decision to pivot, the HighTechXL CEO and co-founder says this past 12 months wouldn’t have been the crazy run of success it has if it weren’t for having the right idea in the right place at the right time. All the ingredients for success were there waiting to be tapped.
The new HighTechXL “is powered by the local ecosystem,” Guus said. The previous five years accelerating high-tech startups helped develop “very close relationships in the region" with everyone in the ecosystem.
Working with more than 60 startups, “we learned a lot but above all, we developed a high-level of trust," Guus said. Having the trust of the major players – entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and tech talent – meant it was easier to mobilize the collective technical might of the Brabant region for the new HighTechXL approach.
Eindhoven had several competitive advantages waiting to be connected … a network, access to competencies and access to lab facilities.
The question was, ‘How can we best capitalize on those assets? Where can we really add value?’ " Guus said. Eindhoven is all about high-precision engineering, mechatronics, embedded software and complex system design.
Then we said, ‘What would happen if we only worked with propositions where we as a region can make a difference? Do we start with high tech startups, or take it one step further and take ground-breaking technology as a starting point?"
Eindhoven’s biggest advantage is having the trust of the Eindhoven Startup Alliance, which includes global high-tech companies such as ASML. Another is the sheer scale of talent, with more patents filed each year per capita here than any place in the world.
“CERN said, ‘Well, if there’s a region in Europe where you can make a difference in certain areas, it’s Eindhoven. There was a high level of trust we could do something spectacular with those CERN technologies."