“The amount of IT & Data graduates, together with the increasing trend in the number of students who start and graduate, was a real eye-opener for us,” says Leestemaker. “Often people don’t immediately think of Brabant as a hotspot for IT & Data. The talent can be found in other regions, you hear. But that turns out not to be the case. As a province, we train by far the most IT and Data talent.
According to the study, the fact that the Brabant economy continues to grow above average can be explained by the successful combination of innovation, collaboration and talent development. Leestemaker: “With billion-dollar companies such as Philips and ASML and countless innovative start-ups, the economy in Brabant has grown faster over the past five years than in any other region in the Netherlands. The province is the perfect place for IT & Data Science companies, and is already home to many IT & Data Science initiatives and organizations that stand out from the market.”
7 distinctive strengths of IT & Data Science in Brabant:
- Steady growth of talent from excellent universities, knowledge institutes and education in IT & Data Science.
- Highly-developed clusters, campuses, and joint innovation facilities with distinct expertise and resources for IT & Data Science in specific industries.
- Brainport Eindhoven is one of the smartest most innovative IT & Data Science clusters in the world.
- The distinctive and constructive Brabant cooperative model of open innovation which goes beyond borders.
- A broad variety of IT companies in cities that each have their own strengths and profiles.
- The ideal geographic location and perfect steppingstone into Europe.
- Brabant’s quality of life is excellent
Priority niches & development areas
The study also leads to strategic conclusions for the near future. The potential focus areas are divided into ‘priority niches’ and ‘development areas’. In the first group, Brabant IT & Data Science initiatives are already international market leaders. In the second group, because of the strong conditions, it is only a matter of time before that will also be the case.
The number of patents applied for and granted is also an indication of the importance of this sector, says Leestemaker. “We have a great score when it comes to patent applications – also at European level. But if you look at all those patents along the lines of IT, it is only apparent how important this sector is for Brabant. In some domains within IT & Data technology we participate seriously, even on a global level. And we notice that we are regularly seen as a frontrunner.”
Another striking outcome of the study was the large number of field labs – those typical places where the ‘real’ world meets that of applied research – that are active within Brabant in IT. “These are then linked to different domains. Examples include the Fieldlab for Precision Agriculture in Reusel, the 5G automotive fieldlab in Helmond and the Flexible Manufacturing Fieldlab in Eindhoven. These activities are always about IT and Data Science.”
The success of the field labs is also related to another conclusion of the study: Brabant is remarkably strong in training IT talent. This aspect is one of the most important unique selling points compared to other regions. This result is visible thanks to various specific courses at university level at Eindhoven University of Technology, Tilburg University and JADS, as well as at Universities of Applied Sciences at Fontys, Avans, BUas and HAS.
Selection of conclusions for talent development
- Brabant has the most successful higher educated IT & data students in the Netherlands,
- Brabant has the largest and most stable growth of successful & new IT students in the Netherlands,
- Brabant has the highest relative growth of successful IT Master students,
- Brabant has the highest relative growth of new bachelor IT students,
- Fontys ICT is the number 1 in the Netherlands with the most successful IT students.
In the meantime, the demand for IT and data talents is very high. “99% of all our graduates have already found a job during their studies”, says lecturer AI & Big Data Gerard Schouten of Fontys ICT. “And luckily more and more new students are finding us.” This is partly due to the developments within his institute in recent years, says Schouten. “And especially because of the choice we made to give Artificial Intelligence a more prominent role. The specialization in AI is immensely popular.”
This article was written in collaboration with Bart Brouwers, Innovation Origins.