For three generations, the Amelsvoort family had a meat
wholesale business in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. However, in the
1990s, the city faced significant challenges when light bulb and
electronics giant Phillips relocated its headquarters to Amsterdam
and outsourced production to China. In a short amount of time, the
city lost 30% of their jobs and the Amelsvoort family lost their
It's not an uncommon story in business communities across the
globe - and Geelong has had its share of similar experiences - so
what can Geelong learn from what happened following Eindhoven's
This very subject was further explored when the Committee for
Geelong recently hosted Sander van Amelsvoort, President of the
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce Australia as part of our
International Speaker Series: winning from second initiative.
During his presentation at the Novotel to Geelong business and
community representatives, Sander used the story of his father's
wholesale business, as an example of one of the many supply chain
businesses that were no longer able to operate following
Eindhoven's jobs crisis.
Today's Eindhoven however, is a very different place - a
globally recognised hub for innovation, research and development.
As Sander quoted in his presentation, "you can do two things; mourn
and complain about it, or you start developing plans to get back
up," and the latter is exactly what Eindhoven did.
To overcome the challenges of the 1990s the Mayor, working in
collaboration with the Chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce and
the Chancellor of the Technical University, developed a program
that combined the city's strengths to create new growth industries
- education, research and innovation.
As evidenced in the Committee's international research report,
Winning from Second:What Geelong can learn from international
second cities,this approach is known as the Triple Helix model - a
de-politicised structure that is facilitated through a strong
alliance between business, government and knowledge
The Committee's report, compiled with the assistance of the
United Nations Global Compact - Cities Programme and RMIT's Centre
for Urban Research, together with support from the Commonwealth
Bank and other partners, identifies that the multi-helix approach -
a model further developed to include the community - is
instrumental in sustaining long-term economic growth. And the
results speak for themselves. Eindhoven, once an industrialised
area, is now the nation's leader in research and development, with
Nanotechnology, Robotics and Megatronics leading the economy.
The region around Eindhoven is known asBrainport- a reference to
the local innovation and development- which is one of The
Netherlands' three economic development pillars, alongside
theSeaportandAirportregions. In the Brainport region, start-ups,
scaleups and established businesses all collaborate in an open
innovation model, and the region's extensive growth has only been
possible due to the strong alliance enabled through the Triple
Earlier this year, the Committee was delighted to host Her
Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria as
the keynote speaker at our Annual Leadership Breakfast. In her
speech, Governor Dessau noted the significance of the Committee's
international research, which she called a "collaborative
undertaking itself," and emphasised that there "must be a strategic
vision, embraced by both the public and private sectors, and the
bringing together of industry, government and knowledge
institutions… to achieve unity and cooperation in economic
Victoria's second largest city is progressing well with the
implementation of its Clever and Creative vision. And, given
Geelong's similar size to Eindhoven, the learnings - based on the
formal collaborations and partnerships found in the Eindhoven model
- could be critical to Geelong's ongoing transformation.
Additionally, the strong foundation this formal collaborative
model provides for sustainable economic growth could benefit
Geelong's business community greatly, as it's more adaptable and
could protect the city-region from future economic shocks.
Eindhoven, like Geelong, is a classic example of the
opportunities that can arise in the face of economic turmoil.
Sander's parting words were well-noted by many business and
community representatives who attended his presentation: "Never let
a good crisis go to waste."