Knowledge partner ESI for open innovation in the high-tech industry

The Dutch industry has huge economic and social value for the Netherlands. Innovation allows these companies to hold on to their market-leading position. It's essential to continuously strengthen the power of innovation. ESI develops methods to support the industry, and contributes to implementing the results.

The Netherlands at the top of the industry

Examples include complex systems such as industrial printers, advanced computer chip machines and medical systems for hospitals. To stay at the top, and to ensure that the Dutch competitive position improves even more, research and development is needed into methods for developing systems in which software plays a crucial role.

We do this by enabling large companies to collaborate regarding the challenges they all face. It's vital to have a knowledge party that brings all this together.

ESI is a research centre for open innovation hosted by TNO

As a knowledge party, we focus on strong partnerships with leading high-tech companies. ESI wants to help the industry move forward by improving the turnaround times and effectiveness of their product innovation processes. This is achieved through the development and dissemination of new methods and techniques for system design and engineering.

ESI pursues this goal by:

  • drawing up a clear agenda and programme
  • implementing a national and international research programme in close cooperation with the industry and academic researchers
  • sharing the knowledge and methods it develops, such as an extensive competence development programme
  • ensuring broad applicability of its research results

Collectively better through open innovation

Open innovation is about being collectively stronger. Together, finding solutions to shared problems and challenges. Sharing knowledge and insights so that companies and society as a whole can benefit. Students participate during their graduation projects. And universities learn a lot by collaborating with research projects in an open innovation environment. This is a good place to apply knowledge and create value for society.

Breaking down complexity

Systems are becoming increasingly complex, and their users are demanding more and more. The digitalisation of systems is a major cause of the complexity problems common to many companies. Developing new systems is becoming increasingly complex, and open innovation helps companies to build on the experiences of others. They cannot do this in isolation. Due to the complexity, developers need to be able to work together with their suppliers in a suitable environment.

An example of this kind of collaboration with ESI is Philips' Virtual Cathlab. This is a faithful digital copy of a physical medical device under development. It allows doctors to test the device and improve its functionality before it even exists. As a result, development progresses much faster.

Five focus areas

ESI collaborates with industrial and academic partners in projects based on the 'industry-as-a-lab' approach. The topics are derived from strategic industrial problems. This allows us to provide the scientific research needed to develop practical industrial solutions.

The research consists of five programme lines:

  1. System performance: achieve and improve the performance of systems.
  2. System dependability: ensure that systems work reliably 24x7.
  3. System evolvability: continuously building on a system with extensions and modifications.
  4. Systems in context: the possibility to integrate systems in a customer context and form a larger whole with other systems.
  5. System architecting: link customer value, market value and technology.

Share, learn and accelerate

Via the ESI Academy we facilitate the development of knowledge, skills and mindset. The programme consists of three learning concepts:


Develop your professional and/or personal competences by sharing experiences with peers both inside and outside the company.


Develop new technical knowledge and skills by participating in workshops, webinars, courses and micro-learnings.


Accelerate the development of professional and leadership competences by linking your company's strategic innovation themes to an internal competence development programme.

Want to join the ESI network?

Continuous innovation in advanced system design methods and techniques is vital for the Netherlands to maintain its lead in the industry. Would you like to participate in our network, for example through the Share, Learn, Accelerate programme? If so, please contact Jacco Wesselius, [email protected].

Meet ESI, the research centre for open innovation in the industry