Developing new International business relationships is considered to be very different in each country. Cultural differences, a variety of languages, local habits and/or specific slang seem to be human obstacles causing individuals to feel uncomfortable by nature when they first meet. No doubt this is a very true statement yet based on my experience it seems to be somewhat different when one comes from ‘The Netherlands’ in Europe. I find it most intriguing to conclude that there always seems to be this one powerful subject ‘the Dutch’ can use to instantly ‘break the ice’ in any conversation. It almost seems to create an immediate feeling of comfort and mind-share among individuals moving conversation to a very friendly level.
No rocket science in revealing the subject as clearly this is about the Capital of The Netherlands: Amsterdam. Windmills, Tulips, Cheese, Red Light District, Legal Cannabis, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Anne Frank, who wrote her world famous diary while in hiding in occupied Holland, etc.
Allow me to introduce you to a new, perhaps underestimated phenomenon in The Netherlands located no more than 70 miles South-East from Amsterdam: The city of Eindhoven.
Eindhoven, officially referred to as ‘Brain port’, is considered to be the Industrial heart of The Netherlands with its trend-setting center of innovation and technology, ranking 4th on the EU’s Lisbon index for innovation. It holds a strategic position as one of Western Europe’s leading technology centers and has been the base for the research and development facilities of companies such as Philips Electronics for over a century. A research campus housing 10,000 researchers convinced many global companies to establish development and production facilities in the area. 40% of all R&D activities in the Netherlands are taking place in the Eindhoven region. 25% of the jobs in the region are in technology and ICT.
Just recently, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) named its 2011 Top Seven Intelligent Communities of the Year in the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu. The ICF’s Top Seven are communities that provide a model of economic and social development in the 21st Century using information and communications technology to power growth, address social challenges and preserve and promote culture.
Eindhoven has been selected by an independent jury of academics from a list of 21 contenders.
Of the other six Intelligent Communities in the world, there are three in the United States: Chattanooga, Tennessee; Dublin, Ohio and Riverside, California. Canada has two of the seven Intelligent Communities – Stratford and Windsor-Essex. Also, Issy-les-Moulineaux in France is one of the most intelligent regions in the world.
You can imagine my relief and excitement in adding ‘Eindhoven’ as a new additional subject when meeting new International business relationships! And if that doesn’t work: The legend of Hans Brinker who supposedly put his finger in the dyke to prevent a flood always does…