Technolution is a technology integrator that brings business, technology and knowledge together. The company focuses on four domains: mobility, energy, industry, and public safety & security. Technolution has been an active partner in seven ITEA projects to date, all of which have been significant successes. Serge de Vos, CTO, reveals what it is that puts the spotlight on this SME to find out what makes it tick.
Tomatoes and cucumbers
"The good old Dutch greenhouse horticulture is where our roots lie," Serge begins. "It was here that 32 years ago four young dynamic engineers put their microprocessor knowledge to work for the climate control in these greenhouses to enhance the cultivation of tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables. This was innovative at the time because until then all the climate control had been analogue, and we came along with our digital microprocessor designs, including the hardware and embedded software. Something we are still doing today."
In the meantime, Technolution has gradually evolved and expanded and now employs around 200 staff. "The gradual development is important for us because we consider it essential to maintain the culture that made us what we are. So we try to control annual employee growth at around 10%. We want to hold on to the flexibility that makes us unique, and that means taking the time and care to ensure that people slot in to the culture." Serge speaks from experience since he also underwent the same process when he joined Technolution 20 years ago.
Technolution employs highly-educated professionals with a passion for technology, to create robust and attractive solutions that matter. "We have a pretty open and informal character that ensures our doors are always open. We are highly technologically and practically driven, and our work atmosphere can best be described as informal and task-oriented. We think big but we work on solutions in small teams. That is a distinctive feature and keeps us dynamic and flexible. Given the pace of technology and the constantly changing environment in which we operate, to have such a structure and culture is indispensable in enabling us to perform at the top of our game."
This game has been played largely in the Netherlands but, over the past five years or so, Technolution has witnessed a carefully managed expansion, particularly towards Scandinavia. "It began with the growing Intertraffic phenomenon in which Copenhagen wants to become a frontrunner, and we won a bid together with local partners to provide smart solutions to enhance traffic flow in the city. So this was our first independent step over the border. The next phase is to use our reputation to extend further to the other Nordic countries."
However, Technolution's European dimension already found expression in the ITEA context when a number of years ago, the company became involved in the ITEA 2 HiPiP project at the invitation of Philips, already a familiar project partner for Technolution. This particular project targeted the development of affordable high-tech medical image-processing applications based on high-performance computing multicore, multiprocessor technologies. "Philips needed an SME and we were keen to boost our image-processing knowledge at the time, so it seemed a good fit. That was our first involvement with ITEA and it gave us a great opportunity to experience the collaboration of a diverse consortium of large and small companies together with research institutes and academia."
Free, open exchange
Technolution quickly felt at home in such an environment. Six more projects followed, with the likelihood of more to come in the future. "Our researchers were very enthusiastic - and still are - about this kind of collaboration. They get a lot from these projects, which means we do, too, as a company. Not only in terms of knowledge - that's a give-and-take - but also in terms of building relationships and networks with other players in the industry, broadening cultural horizons and getting to know different business approaches. And, of course, they love working on a tangible end product, often a demonstrator. With the combination of hardware and embedded software together with electronics still very much a feature of our current work, the physical end goal provides a real motivation and a real kick when you can actually demonstrate the proof of the pudding."
As a growing company, Technolution undertakes R&D for what it believes is absolutely necessary. "EUREKA, on the other hand, gives us the opportunity to be able to do more than just the necessary, so from this perspective EUREKA platforms like ITEA and PENTA are very important. They provide the context for a free and open exchange," Serge adds, "even though you may actually be competitors - in that room you are all on the same side focused on the same goals."