Did you know that a medicine for breast cancer was invented and developed in the Rijk van Nijmegen? Or that Heinz's new sugar-free ketchup is made here? And that NXP's chip, which can be found in every mobile phone in the world, was invented in the city of Nijmegen? Like most people in Nijmegen, we had no idea. And that while we can be very proud of that! Fortunately, Dick Bos has come up with a solution: POP'HUB, a shop where all innovations from the area of Nijmegen are displayed.
Podium for innovative entrepreneurs
Four years ago, Dick Bos started the StartUp foundation, a place where starting entrepreneurs are helped by experienced entrepreneurs to climb the ladder. There I discovered that a lot of starting entrepreneurs just startup like that. And I like that, they have passion. But if you get a little help, it goes faster,'' says Bos. says Bos. As a starting entrepreneur, you do not always have the opportunity to validate your product with your potential customer. Does the potential customer really want what you have thought up? What do they think of it? And what are they prepared to spend? All questions you need to answer. And I thought: I should provide a platform for that''. With the help of volunteers, interns and colleagues of StartUp Nijmegen, the stage has been there since the end of 2020, in the form of shop POP'HUB.
The shop is full of flight cases, each one showing innovation in a unique way. But we are soon drawn to the paintings on the back wall. Bos holds Vincent van Gogh's Almond Blossom and says: "This painting was really made by Van Gogh. Three boys from Nijmegen have developed an algorithm with which they can 3D print every painting by Van Gogh: with exactly the same colours, exactly the same relief, exactly the same frame. Everything is correct, and you can just touch it! The question is: what do you think of that? Is it scandalous or plagiarism? Or does it make you greedy and would you be willing to pay, say, €300 to €500 for it? We are now investigating this using the iPad next to the work, which is how we validate the product.
Connecting platform for the big companies
Just showing the innovations of start-ups is not enough to fill the entire shop. So I thought: why don't companies like NXP, Kraft Heinz and Byondis show their innovations to the people of Nijmegen? They did not see the importance of it before, they work and sell all over the world. But I think it is precisely in Nijmegen that innovations should be shown. These companies have thousands of employees here. Do you want to keep the talent here and have the next innovation come faster? Show what you are doing and make people enthusiastic''.
Because Nijmegen is bursting with creativity and innovative power. But the strange thing is that all those large, innovative companies do not know each other. Bos mentions examples: Hyster, a large American company, has its Research and Development department here, where they are working on new fuel cell technology. But Hyster does not know Kraft Heinz. Kraft Heinz does not know Byondis and Byondis does not know NXP. And yet they are all innovating in the Rijk van Nijmegen. I know for sure that if those heads of innovation are connected, the next innovation will be accelerated. And how I am going to make that connecting platform, I will see. After all, I first need to validate myself what this shop brings, as this idea has not been implemented before.''
From idea to patent to product
Besides the starting entrepreneurs and the big players on the market, there is also a group of patent holders; people who have invented something and have a patent on their name which protects their innovation. In the Rijk van Nijmegen there are about 3000 patents. And some of them come from individual people who do nothing with their innovation. POP'HUB also provides a platform for these innovations. Bos thinks that by showing this kind of inventions, the patent holders might find a local entrepreneur who wants to develop it.
For example, there is Paul Kessener, a 72-year-old physicist. Paul has managed to send texts and colours in a water molecule. You can read or see all sorts of things in the jet coming out of the tap. Imagine adding a sensor that detects whether the water is safe? Then you can make sure that the colour of the jet shows whether the water is drinkable or not. Isn't that great? We have to show that! So I asked Paul to make a washbasin so that we can show visitors how it works. I am convinced that we will find an entrepreneur who will bring this to the market. And I want to do that with more patents. We are therefore now busy filling a patent wall''.
Incidental encounters, enthusiastic amazement
Are you shopping in the city centre or on your way to a café? Then you might suddenly find yourself in POP'HUB. Because the 20 volunteers of POP'HUB make sure that chance passers-by are drawn into the shop and take a stroll around it. The first reactions are overwhelmingly positive; everyone is impressed and falls from one surprise into another. And that by a chance encounter, something that Bos firmly believes in. Everyone who walks past the shop loves Nijmegen. You have something with the Nevengeul, you have something with Oortjeshekken, you have something with the city. If you then also know that, for example, the pharmaceutical company Byondis, which invented the new breast cancer medicine that will be on the market in 2022, is located here, you become even more proud of the city. Even more so: you will tell everyone that it was invented here in Nijmegen!
Are you curious to find out what is being conceived, made and developed in the Rijk van Nijmegen? POP'HUB is open 7 days a week from 13:00 to 17:00. You can also check out the latest innovations online, via the innoviews or Let's Innovate. Would you like to help out at POP'HUB as a volunteer or do you have an innovation that the whole of Nijmegen should see? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photography: Henk Beenen