Tech Startups: The Netherlands Wants You!

Holland has a centuries-old legacy of international trade, excellence in logistics, open-mindedness and free-thinking. Now it’s assuming a leadership role in innovation, becoming a top location in Europe for tech startups in record time. And it’s open for business.

The City of Amsterdam has been working flat out for the past 18 months to become one of the top three European cities for startups – up there with London and Berlin. And this week there are no fewer than three tech startup festivals going on in the Dutch capital: StartUp Fest Europe, The Next Web Conference (this is its 11th year in Amsterdam), and Tech Week.

It’s also nearing the end of former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes’s tenure as Special Ambassador for the nationwide, tech hub StartUpDelta project…so it this seems like a good time for a progress report.

As it turns out, Holland is a pretty good example of how much can be achieved in a very short time with cohesive and visionary leadership.

“We’re #1!”

The country has been billing itself as “Europe’s Best-Connected and Largest Ecosystem” for start-ups, aiming to turn the Netherlands into the “Europe’s West Coast for Awesome Startups.” And its efforts are being recognized. For one thing, in April, the European Commission awarded Amsterdam the title European Capital of Innovation 2016/2017.

Then there’s the latest Compass ranking which puts several of the 12 tech hubs of the Netherlands (Amsterdam, The Hague, and Eindhoven) in The Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking for the first time in 2015, taking 4th place in Europe and 19th place globally. The Compass ranking also stated that StartupDelta is the 3rd faster growing ecosystem in Europe.

StartupDelta: Holland’s Alternative to Silicon Valley

When the StartUp program was launched some 18 months ago, the Netherlands didn’t figure into these charts at all.

And, according to 2016 Startup Nations Monitor published in April, the Netherlands ranks #1 for implementing policies that are geared towards growth for startups.

Among those policies:

  • A package of new proposals for fiscal legislation in the Netherlands making it easier and less expensive to launch a startup in the Netherlands. Details are scheduled for release at the May StartUpFest in Amsterdam.
  • Working with other EU member states while the to launch a 28-nation European Startup Visa V +1.03%, which will cut through red tape to shorten the amount of time necessary to obtain a multi-country multiple-entry visa ifor entrepreneurs – a vital necessity, but not an easy task with the current terrorist security measures in force in the EU. This should be one of the most important legacies of Holland’s 6-month EU Presidency tenure, which ends July 1.
  • A StartUp in Residence program which invites tech entrepreneurs to come to Amsterdam and find solutions to their working problems by talking with other entrepreneurs and experts in the field.
  • Launching mentoring networks with collaboration from Boston, Silicon Valley and New York, including connecting with Tier 1 Venture Capitalists.
  • The efforts of former EU Commission for Digital Policy, Neelie Kroes, whose work as an international ambassador for the 18 months of the national SrartUpDelta program have been put to good use rallying her former political and business connections and speaking at international forums such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January about the importance of cooperation between the US and the EU.
  • And one initiative launched just this spring : TekDelta, an organization of representatives from knowledge institutions and Dutch international companies such as Philips and KPN to share intellectual property and laboratory facilities with startup companies.

Author: Shellie Karabell
Tech Startups: The Netherlands Wants You! – Forbes


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