Paul van Gerven
19 January 2023

Henk van Houten has announced his resignation as CTO and head of research at Philips. “Having had an exciting and highly rewarding career of more than 38 years with Royal Philips, I decided it’s time for me to pass the baton to a new generation of innovation leadership,” he writes in a Linkedin post. He’ll stay with the company as an innovation adviser until 1 April, and afterward intends to offer his advisory services to the Dutch high-tech ecosystem at large.

Van Houten joined the Philips Natuurkundig Laboratorium (Natlab) in 1985 after completing his PhD dissertation in physics at Leiden University. Having obtained several patents and written numerous publications, he became group leader in 1991. Ascending the ranks of Philips Research (the Natlab was disbanded in 2001), Van Houten ran the Aken outfit before accepting the position of general manager in 2010.

Philips Henk van Houten
Credit: Philips

“During my tenure, we participated in exciting industry disruptions, such as the move to integrated ‘systems in a package’ in our Semiconductor business (now NXP), optical disc-based digital recording replacing magnetic tape and connected and programmable LED lamps transforming our century-old lighting industry,” Van Houten reminisces. “A transformation [that has] started – but certainly not yet completed – is our move from stand-alone medical products such as MR scanners and monitors to cloud-connected integrated solutions across the care continuum, powered by big data and AI,” he adds.

Philips became a company focused almost exclusively on health-tech as a result of strategic decisions made during the tenure of brother Frans van Houten, who took the helm at the parent company in 2010 and stepped down in 2022. In those years, the television (2012), audio and video (2014), lighting (2016) and finally the domestic appliances (2021) businesses were divested.

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