What is the strength of the high-quality manufacturing industry in the south of the Netherlands? Representatives of Brainport Eindhoven are asked this question regularly.
Collaborative strength, that is the answer to that question. The reason for collaboration was, however, not born out of luxury. In the 1990s we had to reinvent ourselves in order to preserve employment, prompting representatives of companies, knowledge institutions and governments to join forces. For the outside world, the highlight of our regional cooperation took place in 2011, when an American think tank crowned Brainport Eindhoven ‘smartest region in the world’.
The combination of history and social structures makes our region especially suitable for cooperation, which is a prerequisite for successful chain integration, the theme of this region special. It is mainly down to the following: Brainport Eindhoven is moderate in size, enabling staff from different organisations to meet one another in social networks where knowledge is exchanged. Through this clustering of creativity, especially in fast-moving companies, we boost one another’s innovative strength.
Our successful cooperation in the chain is based on taking responsibility, mutual trust and the willingness to do each other a favour. Openness and honesty are important in this respect. It is also about daring to be vulnerable. This mindset, combined with easy access, is an important prerequisite for collaboration. Employers give their staff a feeling of security and safety and allow them to make errors, from which we all benefit.
The added value also lies in chain-wide investments in technology and development and in actively involving engineers from different companies. Our ecosystem can take more progress in this respect, working towards a chain that is invented by us instead of not invented by me.
The knowledge-intensive manufacturing industry in the south of the country is on a roll. External global factors, such as Brexit and trade conflicts, can have consequences for the global economy and hence for us as well. It is best to assume that our world leaders will keep their head. As an exporting country, the Netherlands reaps the bitter fruits of all forms of protectionism. Our domestic policy must take a firm stand against this in Europe.
Our economy is strong but we cannot sit back and relax of course. We must constantly work on our innovative strength to meet challenges in the field of climate & energy transition, digitisation and the labour market – challenges that can only be tackled systematically if we hold on firmly to each other, both in and outside the chain, allowing us to cherish and further develop our mutual dependence and mutual benefit. I am proud of the group interview about this that you can read later in this issue.
Willem van der Leegte
guest editor in chief OF THIS Link Magazine SPECIAL EDITION
AND president and CEO of VDL Groep