Tomorrow is Good: Eindhoven Engine projects

Door Maarten Steinbuch
Leestijd ± 4 minuten
  • 13 May 2018

In a weekly column, alternately written by Lucien Engelen, Mary Fiers, Maarten Steinbuch, Carlo van de Weijer, and Tessie Hartjes, E52 tries to find out what the future will look like. All five contributors – sometimes accompanied by guest bloggers – are working on solving the problems of our time. Everything to make Tomorrow Good. This Sunday, it‘s Maarten Steinbuch’s turn. Here are all the previously published columns.

The Engine starts to revolve. We are in the process of defining the first projects, and we would like to get started quickly. The Eindhoven Engine has to become a concept. How to accelerate innovation in our region together. How we can collaborate to keep up with the acceleration of technology with our new products, services, and solutions to the big challenges. The ‘Eindhoven Engine as a beacon of innovation‘, as we recently read. In many places in our region, we already have the ingredients: co-location of knowledge workers from various organisations, such as Holst and Solliance. With the new Eindhoven Engine projects, co-funded and supported by companies and the Brainport Action Agenda, we want to take a new step: to show that innovation can actually be accelerated by bringing together experience in combination with young talent, not on those well-known spots at a company, but at a separate co-location. Because that’s what gives disruptive making and thinking a better chance, just like the cross-pollination between the projects, and thus between the different industrial groups. The digital revolution will be disruptive in many areas. Everything is interconnected and no one party is able to solve the social challenges alone. The future of innovation is collaboration in multidisciplinary ecosystems on open platforms. The Eindhoven Engine will also be innovative in the design and way of working.

What is the Eindhoven Engine?

The Engine is not an institution where people work in permanent employment. It is a place where projects are carried out, by students and employees of universities, institutes of applied science, by TNO and possibly by other knowledge institutions, together with employees of companies and social institutions. A vibrant, ‘agile’ and inspiring location (and eventually several locations!) where we conduct research together. This is not fundamental research, because that is what the university is for. No, project development and applied research, with concrete solutions for challenging problems and concrete business cases. Also read the blog post about the deal for knowledge workers. We will also develop a course of disruptive innovation and lifelong learning for the participants in the Engine, and we will pay attention to the influence of technology on society, through our Outreach programme.

What is an Engine project?

An Eindhoven Engine project is a project in which a number of companies and social institutes work together with the knowledge institutes and students. As one team. The project may sometimes take a few months, but most of the projects will be 2 to 4 years. The size is between 5 and 20 employees, with about half students (of all educational levels), two-year PDEngs (Designer training), and PhD students. And in part-time or full-time, but in any case temporary, research staff of the knowledge institutions, and staff of companies and, if possible and desired, of social institutions. The co-location is important because this will accelerate the process: matching experience with young and disruptive thinking, with a focus on real challenges, and making use of the abundant, most recent, scientific, applied knowledge and business experience from the “real world”. And access to a great deal of diversity – people, questions, knowledge – from the business community.


Examples include a new smart drive for a wafer scanner positioning system, a new smart in-car radar, or a smart way to predict heart failure. But we also really need to work with robots for the healthcare sector and new ways of storing energy. We are now in the process of putting together the first projects, and in the coming years we are going to greatly expand that. Ultimately, the projects will be part of long-term programmes and of the Engine roadmap.

We really want to start after the summer, with a number of projects to form the first critical mass. And is it right as I described above? Certainly not. Something like that needs time. How cool it would be if, as an employee with ten years of experience in a company, you were to tell your manager that you would very much like to join the Eindhoven Engine. Because you want to acquire new knowledge, have something valuable to bring (knowledge transfer), or because you want to give and receive new inspiration. And that your boss then says, even when the work stress is high: “That’s a good plan, just go and do it!”, because he knows that it is a very good investment for the company. Not only for you as an employee, but also for the company, because everything develops so fast, and the Engine gives you a head start and moreover, you come into contact with students early on, so you’re in a position to motivate them for your company.

Let’s start, and learn, and customize!

Eindhoven Engine