The Netherlands is the world’s most autonomous vehicle-ready country, according to the recent Automated Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI) report by KPMG. This is largely due to its AV-friendly infrastructure and well-maintained road network. The Netherlands boasts the highest density of electric vehicle charging points in the world, already offering 27,000 charging points for the public.
As significant opportunities exist for UK companies in the connected and autonomous vehicle sectors, EEN, Innovate UK and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency worked closely together to organise a visit for 23 UK companies and research institutions to meet with their Dutch counterparts, explore opportunities for business collaboration and funding under Horizon 2020. And the intensive two-day programme is already paying off for the participants.
"The visit has helped us identify potential partnerships with companies and research organisations both in the UK and the Netherlands," says Keith Budden, head of business development at Loughborough-based Cenex. "We are already progressing these new relationships in order to grow our business and create new jobs in both countries."
"The event exceeded my expectations," says Steve Gleddon, CRO of autonomous vehicle company AiPod. The event had helped him to make new connections with both Dutch and British businesses, including one potential partnership and the agreement of a licensing deal.
During the programme, the delegates met Lex Boon, Director of the Automotive Campus in Helmond, the national meeting point for business in automotive technology and smart mobility in the Netherlands. The venue, which is home to innovative companies, engineers, suppliers, scientists and world class development and testing facilities, plays an important role in the development of new smart and green mobility solutions globally. The future roadmaps of smart mobility in both the UK and the Netherlands were explained by Lennart Verheijen of Dutch smart charging company Greenflux, Daniel Ruiz, CEO of Meridian Mobility and Leo Kusters, Director of AutomotiveNL. EEN hosted a session of pre-arranged matchmaking meetings where more than 60 introductions took place.
A second day was spent at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) whose Automotive Technology Programme is focused on technological solutions to societal issues such as emissions, traffic jams and accidents, and where student teams are formed to work on particular projects.
Gijs Dubbelman, head of Mobile Perception Systems (MPS) at the University, gave an overview of the recent developments within his department, which included real-time visual mapping sensor technology and computer vision algorithms for obstacle detection for automated vehicles and a fully electric lightweight racing car - the work of a student team. Auke Hoekstra, Senior Researcher on Electric Mobility, explained how data trends, simulations and mapping can influence the way technology is developed in the smart mobility sector.
EEN will continue to work with the participants to assist them in the next stages of developing their products, new innovations and relationships with their Dutch counterparts.
This visit was soon followed by the announcement by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) - with Meridian Mobility and Innovate UK – that up to £30m is available for projects that help make the UK the most effective connected and autonomous vehicle development ecosystem in the world.
Businesses and research organisations can apply into two competitions that support the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles and progress their development. The future of transport is moving ahead, at speed!