From wear sensors for industrial compressors to a device that alerts cyclists when their posture is poor: the sensors developed by 2M Engineering are used in a variety of industrial and medical applications. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency offers support by seeking suitable collaboration partners and providing advice on grant proposals.
2M Engineering develops and produces a wide range of sensors. Rather than focusing on the marketing of its final product, the company leaves this aspect up to its collaboration partners. 'We develop the product from the initial idea to the definitive technical solution', explained director of product development Coen Lauwerijssen. ‘Over the course of various stages, we develop prototypes into certified products that can then be manufactured in smaller or larger volumes. Once this process has been completed, our work is done.'
In search of collaboration partners
Demand for sensor technology is growing, largely due to the development of the Internet of Things. 2M Engineering mainly produces diagnostic medical equipment, wearables and industrial sensor solutions. The company's search for potential collaboration partners largely takes place through online channels, such as the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). 'We regularly receive email updates on potential collaboration partners from EEN', Lauwerijssen continued. 'If it turns out to be a good fit, we will take action. In August 2018, our Netherlands Enterprise Agency adviser sent us a list of companies seeking Eurostars partners with our specific area of expertise. We saw potential in a Norwegian company, which we then contacted through our adviser.'
Within just one month, 2M Engineering and its new Norwegian partner had submitted a Eurostars application, which was then approved. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency advisers played an important role, as they share their advice on the grant application process with applicants where possible. The partners started developing a sensor glove for a robotic hand in April 2019. Despite broad expertise in the area of robotic hands, Norwegian firm H5y had little experience with sensors. 'We complement each other perfectly', Lauwerijssen explained. 'The two companies immediately "clicked" and had managed to prepare a research proposal in no time, which was then approved. H5y takes our sensor technology and makes sure that glove users experience the sensor signals as real sensations and at the same time, market the product. As the focus is on improving user experience, the sensors in the robotic hand are extremely helpful in that regard.'
Lauwerijssen considers the Netherlands Enterprise Agency to be an effective matchmaker. 'We know what they have to offer and they are aware of our capabilities. Our advisers let us know every time they find a suitable partner, which helps both parties. Our collaboration makes it far easier to find partners and has proven its value.'