Amsterdam Science Park: a successful venture
Among the many success stories at Amsterdam Science Park, ACE Venture Lab, founded in 2013 as a collaborative enterprise between Amsterdam’s universities and MIT Stanford, is playing a key role. Some of the companies this science and technology incubator nurtures have grown by a staggering 300% in one year.
In October 2014, it was announced that Photanol, a clean-tech corporate spin-off of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) also based at Amsterdam Science Park, and AkzoNobel will collaborate to develop technology that converts CO2 into valuable organic compounds with the use of engineered bacteria and sunlight. These ‘green’ building blocks will eventually replace raw materials that AkzoNobel currently obtains from fossil-based production.
Another Amsterdam Science Park startup and UvA spin-off, Euvision is a specialist in image recognition applications powered by artificial intelligence. It was recently acquired by Qualcomm, an American producer of 3G, 4G and next-generation mobile chips, for an undisclosed sum that runs in the tens of millions of euros. AGC Chemicals, the chemical division of the multinational Asahi Glass Co, has also expanded its European branch with a new technical centre at Amsterdam Science Park. The company specialises in manufacturing and marketing fluoropolymers and fluorochemicals to the EMEA region.
Like a microcosm of Amsterdam Science Park, the Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography (ARCNL) is a unique collaboration between science and business. Officially opened in November 2014, ARCNL is a public-private partnership between the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM), UvA, the VU University Amsterdam and the semiconductor equipment manufacturer ASML. ARCNL focuses on the fundamental physics involved in current and future key technologies in nanolithography, primarily for the semiconductor industry. ARCNL’s strategic position at Amsterdam Science Park sees it embedded among other pioneering researchers in a stimulating environment for cooperation, collaboration and the exchange of ideas.
Metrica Sports, in short
Part of ACE Venture Lab, Metrica Sports is a football data consulting company focused on helping football clubs improve performance through tailor-made data and video analysis software. Bruno Dagnino, who has a PhD in cognitive neuroscience, is one of three co-founders. ‘Metrica started as a hobby just because we love football,’ Dagnino explains. ‘Then it became a project on the side and almost without noticing we were a real company! We realised a lot of companies provided football clubs with tons of data and “one size fits all” solutions, but there wasn’t a good way to take advantage of all that data. Villarreal FC (Spanish First Division) became our first customer. Having a club with their history and trajectory as our client in such a short period of time is without doubt our greatest accomplishment so far. Now we’re talking with several coaches and analysts across Europe with the goal to develop top-quality products that will fit their needs and establish Metrica Sports as a leading model for tactical football analysis.’
Startups Amsterdam Scientific Instruments and Omics2Image are two spin-offs of the renowned NWO/FOM physics research institutes AMOLF and Nikhef. Under the umbrella company Particle Physics Inside Products (a joint venture between the aforementioned research institutes and active angel investor 1&12 Investment Partners), these companies are working together to develop state-of-the-art imaging instruments for research and bio-medical applications.
According to Hans Roeland Poolman, Director of 1&12 Investment Partners, ‘One of the megatrends in the coming decades is the shifting focus in health, wellness and well-being to the individual patient. The combination of soaring costs and limited effectiveness is driving the development of personalised medicine that requires correct prediction, faster diagnosis and accurate monitoring rather than treatment alone. Our proprietary technology platform allows the production of next-generation radiation cameras for both the top segment of the scientific market and industry. Our imaging devices contain “smart” pixels that allow for a new approach towards colour X-ray images, a molecular camera and electron microscopy. We provide high-sensitivity solutions for sharper and faster imaging, which enable scientists and product developers in industries such as life sciences or manufacturing to produce high-impact discoveries.’
MonetDB Solutions is a high-tech consulting company, specialised in innovative database technologies for business data analytics based on MonetDB, the leading open-source analytical database management system. It was co-founded in 2013 by four researchers from Amsterdam Science Park’s CWI, the national research institute for mathematics and computer science. Co-founder Martin Kersten received the prestigious ACM SIGMOD Edgar F Codd Innovations Award in 2014. ‘We want to expand MonetDB Solutions into a healthy and stable medium-sized database development and consulting company, which is known for its innovation and its bridging function between research and industry,’ says Ying Zhang, Manager Research & Development.
‘We want the core product, MonetDB, to become the open-source column-based database system. MonetDB Solutions offers highly competitive alternatives for customers who currently use products from, for example, IBM, Oracle and SAP.’ MonetDB Solutions has seen steady growth since its establishment. Its first major product, the MonetDB integration with the R statistical software suite, provides a rapid in-database analytics solution. It will be available globally on the Amazon Web Service Marketplace in 2015.
Specialising in deep neural networks, Scyfer bridges the gap between the existing knowledge of machine learning in the academic world and the companies seeking to maximise the value of big data. Using state-of-the-art modelling techniques to analyse millions of variables and data points, Scyfer has improved current predictive models by up to 20%. These models can be used in sectors ranging from banking to marketing to predict buying behaviour and determine supply and demand. Exciting applications in medicine (brain scans) and security (image recognition) are also being explored.
‘What makes Scyfer unique is that it can handle an unlimited number of variables,’ says General Manager Jörgen Sandig. ‘Moreover, we perform most data analyses on a laptop. This means that companies don’t need to make major IT investments in order to use our technology.’ A University of Amsterdam and ACE Venture Lab spin-off, Scyfer was named ‘most valuable concept for the future high-tech industry’ at the Accenture Innovation Awards Best of High Tech 2014.