Each year, we look to the various European startup ecosystems with our partners at (international law firm) Bird & Bird. Previous visits have included Helsinki, Prague, Munich, and Copenhagen. We seek to find out what differentiates the ecosystem and see what exciting startups we can discover. Andy Jefferies, Chief Innovation Officer at Ntegra, shares some initial findings from developing the programme for this year’s European summit.
“The high level of education, entrepreneurship and creativity put the Dutch in a frontrunner position in terms of innovation. The Netherlands has a long history of innovation in technology and digital transformations, for example, Philips, ASML, NXP, Adyen, Booking.com and Wetransfer originated in The Netherlands. Today, the Netherlands holds several conglomerates of international startup communities in Amsterdam, The Hague, Enschede and Eindhoven, open to collaboration and exchange of expertise, creating interesting opportunities.” Marjolein Geus, a partner in Bird & Bird’s office in the Hague.
There are several obvious factors which make the Netherlands attractive to multinationals as a European Headquarters or regional hub, and therefore attractive to startups as well. Evidenced by the volume of nearly 200 companies choosing Amsterdam as their European Headquarters (such as Netflix and Salesforce), the Netherlands is English speaking, and geographically well placed as a gateway to Europe. The Netherlands’ main airport, Schipol, is one of the busiest airports in Europe and acts as a popular flight connection hub for global as well as for dutch traffic.
Perhaps less well known, but significant to multinationals attraction of international talent is the ’30 % ruling’ for knowledge workers. International talent may be eligible for 30% of their salary to be paid tax-free, as compensation for the expenses that the employee has by working outside his/her home country.
According to Startup Genome, particular sub-sector strengths in Amsterdam include Agtech and New Food, and Life Sciences. Our search has been broader than just Amsterdam, of course, and more focused on Enterprise IT. Interesting highlights so far have included:
As ever, we applied a fairly broad brush in our search for startups this year, principally using our organic network reach and independent research. This does not give an indicator of the regional trends on a macro scale but does offer up some insights through prominence in our search endeavours.
One category that quickly rose to the surface involved either interoperability, frameworks or tooling for Software architecture and Development. For example, Vamp.io, a StartupBootcamp alumni recently took on $2.5M Series A funding led by Vortex Capital Partners to help them prepare for international launch. Another example is AxionIQ provides infrastructure and a development platform for Microservices and Event Sourcing architecture, and are well-positioned to exploit the popularity and wave of Microservices adoption.
Perhaps no surprise that the Netherlands might offer up some technologies targetted at the financial services industry. We found numerous product and services based companies that exploit Blockchain technology. Whether it’s securing digital assets as per V-ID, or enabling Multi-Party-Computation solutions (TNO), we hope to witness some traction in bringing Blockchain technologies to market within and outside of Financial Services.
There is also evidence of plenty of structural support for startups, and for corporates looking to engage with the ecosystem in the form of Innovation programmes, Incubators and Accelerators. All encompass providing access to the market, skills and capital in some shape or form. Notable examples we’ve encountered include:
This article is just a flavour of what i’ve uncovered in preparing for this year’s tech summit in the Netherlands – which promises to be an illuminating event, with a wide range of technologies on show, including some real tangible use-cases for innovative use of AI and Blockchain.