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From cancer-busting ultrasound techniques to ways to boost vitamins in tomatoes, Dutch tech-hub Eindhoven’s avalanche of patents has just earned it the crown of “most inventive city in the world.”
Despite the Dutch economy hobbling through its third recession since 2009, this southern city of around 750,000 has become a beacon of high-tech hope and is even compared to Silicon Valley in the United States.
With 22.6 patents filed for every 10,000 residents, US-based Forbes magazine this month named Eindhoven the world’s most inventive city.
Using a commonly-used metric for mapping innovation, called ‘patent intensity’, Forbes based its award on statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
In 2011, some 3,238 patent applications were filed in the Netherlands, according to the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat.
Of these, the Eindhoven region and in particular its research and development hub the High Tech Campus (HTC), accounted for 42.0 percent.
But on the “smartest square kilometre in the Netherlands”, you won’t find students at the sprawling HTC complex on Eindhoven’s outskirts.
Once a closed-off laboratory for Dutch electronics giant Philips, the campus houses more than 100 companies employing 8,000 researchers, developers and engineers.
“Here, every 20 minutes a patent is created,” the HTC boasts on its website.
The sprawling complex with its ultra-modern glass-facaded buildings is set among green fields populated by leisurely grazing cows.
The HTC is at the heart of Eindhoven’s innovation and provides a space where big companies such as Philips collaborate with small startups.
Philips opened the facility in 2003 when the company had just gone through a round of layoffs. It offered former employees somewhere to launch startups and use their knowledge.
The result was an explosion of innovation.
“The idea (of the HTC) is based on a philosophy of ‘open innovation’ where high-tech businesses share knowledge … to deliver better and quicker results,” said Jean-Paul van Oijen, sales manager at Brainport Development, whose job it is to stimulate investment in the Eindhoven region.