What makes the Brainport region so strong? ‘Working together!’ Yes, that’s right. But what do we mean by that? In my view, it’s all about properly discussing things, coordinating and helping each other out. In order to have access to a tightly connected network or – to put it another way – a well-orchestrated value chain. That is an important strength of the Brainport region and it really inspires me. It creates the so-called ‘collaborative advantage’. My contribution to that lies in wholeheartedly performing my role as a member of the supervisory boards of both Brainport Development and Rabobank. Both organisations are all about ‘co-operation’. Together we are strong. That’s why I think it’s fantastic that the Rabobank in Eindhoven has recently begun operating as the Brainport Bank and is financially supporting our ecosystem.
But I also see another dimension to the concept of ‘working together’ in the Brainport region: ‘systems thinking’. That is the key to successfully developing complex product systems. There are good electronic, mechanical and software engineers everywhere, but the important thing is to ultimately build a system that is functional and has a high added value. The architects and the systems engineers make sure all the parts of a complex system work together properly. In that sense, it’s just like in a human body. Every organ has a function and everything is connected to everything else. In the Brainport region, we build incredibly complex systems, such as ASML’s steppers, Thermo Fischer’s electron microscopes and Philips’ cardiovascular X-ray systems. I have had the opportunity to see the development of these products up close. The success of the Brainport region lies primarily in systems thinking, which has arisen through the development of complex products.
We can also successfully use this quality in new applications and products related to global trends. Our society is becoming increasingly electrified and everything is connected to each other (internet of things). All kinds of things are measured and recorded and this information is used for automated and self-managing operations. It is the basis of Industry 4.0.
The trend is towards ever smarter systems. And that is exactly what we are working on at AME. A new, smart world, based on cooperation and systems thinking. The unique combined skill of ‘working together’ and ‘systems thinking’ in the southern Netherlands is not easily copied and is invaluable. It is the basis of our resilience. And it can’t be captured in patents. This aspect is wrongly overlooked in political discussions about breaches of our IP, which often leads to incorrect conclusions.
In the current crisis, it is more important than ever to work together, both internally and with other companies, agencies and the government. Our region in particular can lead the way in finding a way out of this crisis. Together we will come out stronger. We have proven that in the past.
Guest editor-in-chief of this special edition and CEO of AME