Eindhoven Region wins Intelligent Community of the Year 2011 award

The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) named the Eindhoven Region of the Netherlands as the world’s Intelligent Community of the Year 2011 during its annual awards ceremony at Steiner Film Studios in Brooklyn, New York (USA).

Eindhoven, which made ICF’s list of the Top Seven finalists for three consecutive years, was represented by a delegation led by Mayor Rob van Gijzel of the City of Eindhoven and Deputy Mayor Yvonne van Mierlo of the City of Helmond. ICF Co-founder Louis A. Zacharilla presented the award to Eindhoven, which succeeded Suwon, South Korea, the 2010 recipient. Representatives from Suwon were on hand to see the succession, as were officials from former recipients, including Stockholm, Sweden (2009), Gangnam, the high-tech district in Seoul (2008), Waterloo, Canada (2007), Taipei (2006), and Glasgow (2004).

The awards are presented by the independent think tank as part of its annual summit, Building the Broadband Economy. The annual invitation-only conference was attended by 275 thought leaders from around the world. The event is produced in association with the Institute for Technology & Enterprise at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. The goal of the awards is to increase awareness of the role that broadband communications and information access technologies play in shaping the economic and social development of communities worldwide. Mayors, city managers, CIOs, and executives of leading technology companies from around the world, as well as academics and urban planners, are part of the Intelligent Community movement and were on hand throughout the three-day program (www.icfsummit.com).

Intelligent Community of the Year 2011:  Eindhoven, The Netherlands
The Eindhoven Region, south of Amsterdam, has long been the industrial center of Holland, with 730,000 inhabitants and a workforce of 400,000. Eindhoven generates €24 billion of GDP and €55 billion in exports, one-quarter of the Dutch total. It is a manufacturing center in a high-cost country. By focusing on producing high-value, technology-based products, it is in competition with fast-growing manufacturing centers in nations with much lower costs. At the same time, however, Eindhoven is saddled with demographics familiar to Europe and much of the West, in which a low birth rate and aging population is reducing the regional labor force. To win the battle for the talent that provides its competitive advantage, the region must make itself economically and socially attractive to knowledge workers from around the world and concentrate on innovation.

Eindhoven’s answer to these challenges is a public-private partnership called Brainport Development. Its members include employers, research institutes, the Chamber of Commerce, the SRE, leading universities and the governments of the region’s three largest cities. A small professional staff meets regularly with stakeholders to identify their strengths, needs and objectives, then looks for opportunities for them to collaborate on business, social or cultural goals. Its range of projects includes broadband deployment and applications, workforce development, digital inclusion, marketing and advocacy for the region – and especially innovation.

In healthcare – the theme of the 2011 ICF summit – the region already has nearly 825 businesses active in the sector, which employ 17,000 people. To drive further growth, Brainport created a project called Brainport Health Innovation (BHI). Its goals are to foster increased well-being for the elderly and chronically ill, to reduce healthcare costs and increase productivity, and to do so while generating economic opportunities for the region.

The total cost of regional healthcare is forecast to rise from €17bn currently to €25bn by 2020, in large part because of the need for 100,000 new healthcare workers. BHI’s goal is to improve productivity by 1 percent per year, which would reduce demand for new personnel by 25,000 and save about €750 million. Meanwhile, BHI’s work is expected to generate 150 new companies employing at least 10,000 people. This is a conscious effort to reduce employment demand in one area in order to increase it in another, thus benefitting the entire region.

BHI has involved hospitals, insurance companies, technology manufacturers local government and individual patients to design and implement realistic technology solutions that offer a profitable operating model. A Living Lab eHealth project is planned, in which aging people will test new services and products introduced by the BHI participants, including remote monitoring and diagnostics enabled by the broadband network.

ICF Co-founder Louis Zacharilla congratulated the new Intelligent Community of the Year, saying, “Eindhoven is the model for a new way of thinking about collaboration and regional development. It has developed an ecosystem that links its private sector, government and its academic and creative communities in a way that looks like an economic ‘triple helix.’ What has emerged is an extremely efficient local economy that can compete with anyone, anywhere. It is focused on what I call ambient innovation. It is constantly creating and redesigning itself based on its goals. It never loses focus. I am pleased that Eindhoven has finally achieved what it has sought, recognition as one of the world’s communities we can all learn from.”

About ICF
The Intelligent Community Forum is a New York-based think tank that studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community and attempts to help shape and to energize cities, regions and communities worldwide. Whether in industrial or developing nations, communities are challenged to create prosperity, stability and cultural meaning in a world where jobs, investment and progress increasingly depend on broadband communications and access technologies. The Intelligent Community Forum shares best practices with every community and provides research and insights into the success of the world’s designated Intelligent Communities. ICF develops criteria, conducts research, hosts events, publishes reports and holds an international awards program. In May 2010 ICF announced the establishment of a non-profit association of intelligent communities. It is a working group for the world’s nearly 100 intelligent communities. ICF is partnered with the Polytechnic Institute of New York University which hosts its annual summit, “Building the Broadband Economy.” The Intelligent Community Forum was founded by Robert A. Bell, John G. Jung and Louis A. Zacharilla, authors of Broadband Economies (2008).

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