Innovate UK is a part of UK Research and Innovation and has jointly committed a combined £6 million in investment and grant funding. Their Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP), which is delivered by Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), organized a visit to the Netherlands for innovative businesses that are active in the artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics sectors. The East Netherlands portion of this trip took place on Thursday, April 11th, when a group of 14 UK companies visited the Twente region.
The Netherlands was one of the logical choices for a visit as a part of this program, as it is one of the leading global innovators in service robotics and robots. According to a recent report commissioned by Microsoft, the Netherlands is leading the way in AI in Europe. With a strong track record in mechatronics, AI, vision, digital maps and semiconductor technologies, the country turns robot systems into robot solutions.
The Netherlands develops these technologies in close partnership with companies, end users, systems integrators and start-ups to define a roadmap for robotics. The Netherlands is well connected to the EU-Robotics roadmap and is the lead coordinator in important EU projects. It is a vibrant community that gets support from networks like Holland Robotics, Robovalley and the universities in Delft, Wageningen, Nijmegen, Eindhoven and Enschede.
Key strengths of the Netherlands, according to Innovate UK
- Strong ecosystem of industrial users, system integrators, startups and knowledge institutes
- Culture of open innovation (testbeds, shared facilities, etc.)
- A strong and well-connected research and development community
- A government that supports the EU-Robotics roadmap
- Home to leading institutions that also consider the social and ethical side of robotics
The key goals of the UK businesses’ trip to the Netherlands was to have the opportunity to learn about the Dutch ecosystem, network with potential research and business partners and investors, and develop strong international partnerships and collaborations, which started off in the cities of Delft and Amsterdam.
The East Netherlands leg of this visit to the Netherlands was co-organized by HighTechNL and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The tour began in Enschede with visits to Space53 (in cooperation with Drone Flight Company and DRONExpert), Demcon and the University of Twente. This part of the trip was arranged by Oost NL and the University of Twente.
A small group then made a side trip to the Wageningen University to visit an agriculture robotics and drone demo, while back in Twente several presentations were given through visits to the VR, Robotics (RAM), ECTM (Experimental Centre for Technical Medicine) and Wearable Robotics labs.
The visiting group of UK companies was impressed by the possibilities present in the region and strong connections were made during the networking event and dinner. After this rousing success in Twente, the group of UK businesses when on to visit the city Eindhoven which included a matchmaking event.