General Manager
Henk van Houten

“I’m very proud to lead so many talented people who all share a passion for breakthrough innovation.”


General Manager Henk van Houten talks about his time at Philips Research and what it means to him to lead our organization.

“I joined Philips Research in 1985, straight after my graduate studies in physics. This has always been a great place for scientists to work. You have the privilege of doing cutting-edge research, but you also know you are doing something useful for society. And Philips Research is known for giving people the chance to work on a variety of new and exciting topics.

My first job was investigating semiconductor nanostructures: looking at the future of transistors and how their properties change as they become extremely small. This was a very exciting time because my team discovered some new physical phenomena.

After that, I was part of the team that created the Blu-ray Disc standard in collaboration with Sony. Then I managed a research program on solid-state lighting and micro-devices. This was at the dawn of the LED luminous efficacy breakthrough. We worked on technologies that are now important to Philips Lighting’s strategy. Things like color conversion using phosphors embedded in transparent ceramics and the digital control of connected lighting systems.
From lighting, I moved to become Program Manager for healthcare. During that time, we pioneered new topics such as molecular diagnostics, and contributed to the Philips Healthcare innovation strategy in new business areas including image-guided intervention, home healthcare and clinical decision support. In addition, we set up an innovation program for improving accessibility to care in emerging countries like India and China.

In October 2010, I became General Manager of Philips Research – a position I combine with my healthcare program management role. I’m very proud to have the opportunity to lead an organization with such a great track record of breakthrough innovations going back almost 100 years: like the pentode, the CD, Ambilight TV, Blu-ray Disc.

We also have a strong recent history of transferring innovation to the businesses and really hitting the market. For instance, a fall detector we developed is very popular in the market because it allows elderly people to live independently in their own home for longer.

I’m proud of our impact on the Philips strategy too. In Research, we don’t just respond to the Philips Market Sectors, we try to anticipate industry trends as well. Solid-state lighting was a good example of that.

Philips’ ambition is to be a leader in health and well-being. To fulfill that ambition – and to be able to bring comprehensive solutions to market – it is crucial to work with companies that complement Philips and share its vision. As a pioneer of open innovation, Philips Research is actively leveraging our extensive know-how, competencies and IP to work with selected strategic partners and create win-win propositions.

We can do all this because we’re a melting pot for highly talented and open-minded people from around the world. And because we give them the chance to contribute to truly meaningful research in the scope of our strategy.”

Henk van Houten

  • General Manager
  • Philips Research
  • Joined Philips in: 1985
  • Education: PhD in physics