Groningen Open: startups and established companies join forces
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Groningen Open: startups and established companies join forces

The collaborations of the future, the collaborations with the future. On Thursday, the finals of the Groningen Open produced some great combinations between established companies and startups. NNZ started a collaboration with BEBR, KroeseWevers joined forces with LEF and ODE selected Nostics and Protyon.

Groningen-based multinational NNZ is the market leader in transport, wholesale and consumer packaging for the AGF sector. This has been going very well for a hundred years, but the company still thinks it has something to gain from the different way of thinking that is peculiar to startups. Couldn't the number of packages needed each season be more predictable? BEBR thinks so. The Groningen startup provides solutions for companies in the field of data science and A.I.

The match between NNZ and BEBR is exemplary of what Groningen Open stands for. The idea is that established companies and startups don't always know each other, but have something to offer each other. The walls must come down in short. Campus Groningen, NOM, Founded in Groningen and Founded in Friesland therefore devised the format. Companies tell in a video what challenge they are facing and startups can respond. Finally, the inquiring company chooses one of the startups as the winner.

''We are here at the finals, but actually this is just the starting point,'' Anne-Wil Lucas, manager of Innovation and Internationalization at the NOM told me. ''That's exactly right. Now that the matches have been made, and the companies and startups are getting to know each other better, the innovative power should really get going.

The same goes for another new couple: accounting firm KroeseWevers and creativity stronghold LEF. The young people from Groningen are going to figure out how to put the accounting firm - which is primarily known in the eastern Netherlands - on the map in the North as well. Founder Teddy Monninkhof already knows approximately how: ,,It can be a bit more exciting all around. First we will meet the people within the organization, to get to know the heart. Then we will do research, drawing in a lot of young people for out-of-the-box ideas.''

Groningen Open: startups and established companies join forces

Meeting starting point

To the finalists of the Groningen Open (for Innovation) an amount of money is made available by the organization, and co-maker Accoord van Groningen. It is intended precisely for that initial research, so that afterwards they can get going energetically.

The third and fourth winning matches stemmed from a luxury problem. Open Diagnostics Ecosystem (ODE), part of Life Cooperative, owned that problem. Project leader Elke Veenman: ,,Our call to startups was to come up with good ideas for developing new diagnostic tools. We received many submissions and had to sell no many times. But we thought these two were both too good to pass up.''

Those two are Nostics and Protyon. The first develops diagnostics to measure infections and more at lightning speed so that appropriate action can be taken immediately. The second, a spin-off from the UMCG, is building technology to allow cancer molecules to connect with proteins in medication. This significantly prolongs and improves patients' lives.

The collaborations have begun, with a toast in a brand new building on the Zernike Campus that does fit in very nicely with the goals of Groningen Open. Plus Ultra - the grand opening isn't until April - is a large, modern building housing a variety of companies. From large to small. Precisely meeting each other has been the starting point of the designers. That has already succeeded.