Category: Innovative Technologies
IDE group expanded its business to Greater Rotterdam – The Hague and is growing beyond expectations
In 2019, IDE opened its office at Cambridge Innovation Centre Rotterdam, and its business took off immediately. Beyond expectations, the team grew from 1 to 5 employees in less than 2 years and is still growing. At the time we speak to Willem Mees, Director of IDE the Netherlands in April 2021, the company has multiple exciting projects running.
IDE is an Australian Business-and-Design agency that partners with Life Sciences & Health organisations to bring innovations to the market. It is not a traditional design agency, where teams typically work according to a clearly defined brief for a predefined period of time. IDE acts as a business partner and stays involved to design the entire businesses around the product ideas. The agency is unique in its wide range of expertise, which encompasses ideation, design engineering, compliance, manufacturing and quality control, as well as market and business dynamics. The multidisciplinary team at IDE has supported numerous clients with bringing disruptive innovations to the market, of which a staggering 77% generate a positive ROI.
Willem Mees: “When I arrived in Rotterdam and established IDE the Netherlands, I expected to remain the single employee for at least a year. But a German client that we were working with, saw the benefits of our European presence and decided to scale up our collaboration. This single factor already demanded that we grew our Rotterdam team quickly. And we were well able to do so because talent from the reputable Industrial Design Engineering faculty at TU Delft is available here.”
In addition to the initial German client, IDE now has various projects running with startups that stem from the academic medical centres in the Netherlands. Innovations that emerge here, often struggle to successfully reach the market because of lacking knowledge of aspects such as business management and manufacturing at scale. This is a real pity because those solutions have the potential to improve healthcare practice all over the world.
Investors are often scouting innovations at academic medical centres, but are reluctant to invest unless the right expertise is involved. For this reason, it were investors who invited IDE to the projects it is currently involved in, with innovations from Erasmus University Medical Centre, Leiden University Medical Centre and Utrecht University Medical Centre.
Willem Mees: “The critical success factor for IDE in Rotterdam was to connect with the regional Life Sciences & Health community. Thanks to warm introductions by Sasja and Sharon to the LSH010 breakfast sessions and the Venture Café events here at CIC, my network grew fast. This is also where I met the investors that we are now working with on our startup projects.”
A critical link in transformative MedTech innovations
The Tech Transfer Offices at Universities and hospitals have years of experience and a keen eye for the right opportunities and innovations. When combined with the business perspective of investment partners like UNIIQ and the perspective of development, realisation and entrepreneurship, IDE aims to bring the most promising innovations to market faster and with higher success rate.
“Medical professionals are often highly creative problem solvers. It is really captivating to see the solutions they design for their practice. However, making those solutions applicable to a wider range of contexts and ready for large scale manufacturing naturally goes beyond their field of expertise.” Says Willem Mees.
The multidisciplinary IDE team partners with its clients and usually stays involved as a supplier or design partner, sometimes also as an investor, after product launch. The benefit of IDE’s involvement is that the project team easily transforms according to the current task. For example, in one of the products IDE delivers, the client requested an iteration that involved building in a sensor to read test data more accurately than the current analog method. This request could effectively be tackled because IDE has team of electronics engineers that could be allocated to the project only for the time necessary for this task. So the team can grow and shrink and involve different disciplines at different times.
IDE has many startups as its clients, but also several multinational companies. These large corporates often encounter difficulties with achieving transformative innovation, for various reasons. To stay in tune with market developments, they often scout for innovative startups, that they invest in and act as a launching customer for. Here too, IDE’s expertise is brought in to get the innovation from idea to the market.
Enhancing entrepreneurship in MedTech
With the Medical Technology convergence programme of Erasmus MC, Erasmus University Rotterdam and TU Delft, updating IP policy and licencing agreements is a subject of diligence. The idea behind the programme, is to give the world a healthier future. This can’t be accomplished unless a smooth path is created for innovations to reach commercial success, and be introduced to patients around the world. Willem Mees has been involved in many valorisation projects and is well familiar with how IP-policy influences the chance of success of new medtech innovations. Willem Mees: “I am following the developments around the convergence and campus with great interest. They are very interesting for IDE and the local ecosystem.”
Succesful valorisation and entrepreneurship is facilitated in various other ways in greater Rotterdam – The Hague as well, one of them being regional innovation programme ZorgTech. This programme awards vouchers up to € 70.000 to collaborations of startups, fieldlabs and care providers for product commercialization. IDE participated in such a collaboration to test parenting robot Luna in the real life environment with parents with a mild intellectual disability that are under the care of youth care professionals.
“The ZorgTech programme enabled the collaboration between Garage2020 and IDE. Together we could take crucial steps to not only develop robot Luna, but also build a sustainable business around the innovation. The ZorgTech programme made it possible for us to go beyond new product development, towards the start of a new venture.”
Landing soft, but like on a trampoline
At establishment, IDE landed at CIC, located in Groot Handelsgebouw Rotterdam which is right next to Rotterdam Central station. From here, trains will take you to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in 20 minutes, Paris in 3,5 hours, London in 4,5 hours and Berlin in 7 hours. This accessibility is a major advantage for meeting clients and business partners as well as attracting talent.
“What I love about Rotterdam is that it has this ‘underdog-attitude’ similar to the vibe in Sydney. It evokes an open attitude to collaboration, because people know they need to work together to get things done. Also, this humility creates room for curiosity and experimentation which I really enjoy. It’s not about the person who did it, but about the results it brings for society.”Concludes Willem Mees
Interested in joining the Life Sciences & Health community in greater Rotterdam – The Hague?
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch!