Interview

“High up in an organization, you’re busy with keeping management at ease”

René Raaijmakers
Leestijd: 17 minuten

Ben Pronk gained fame as a system architect at several Philips divisions. A year ago, he decided to round off his career by joining a startup in robotic surgery. In the run-up to his keynote at the Bits&Chips System Architecting Conference, we ask him about his 30 years of experience as a system architect.

In the autumn of 2019, Anupam Nayak and Maarten Steinbuch contacted Ben Pronk. With their startup Eindhoven Medical Robotics (EMR), they were working on devices that can drill, saw and mill bone independently during medical interventions. With this technology, they promise to change the surgery game and have the ambition to be a market leader in robots for the operating theatre in 2028. Pronk, a system architect who made a name for himself in countless Philips divisions and spinoffs, saw an opportunity and decided to prove himself once more.

A few weeks later, Pronk selected a chair and a desk between a team of youngsters and a few experienced guys. “I’ve passed the age of sixty and wanted to do something fun again. The medical world and the application are very interesting. What mainly appealed to me was the small scale. The organizations in which I worked consisted of thousands of people. At Philips divisions and later Signify, you have a specialist on hand for each area, or at least someone who can arrange it. Little or nothing has been arranged here. I have to go out for a thermal simulation and order my own PC. I also program it myself,” he says, adding laughingly: “If I have to.”

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