Dutch corporates are asked to appoint a Chief Startup Officer

The Netherlands has one of the highest number of home-made multinationals per square meter in the world. By connecting these multinationals to startups, both parties are able to innovate faster. The Netherlands has the unique possibility to be leading in collaborations between startups and corporates. 

In order to connect these worlds of corporates and startups the How To Get There Summit was organized on the 19th of November 2015. 2500 startups, innovation professionals, investors and academics came together to meet, share experience and get inspired. As a result 230 new connections were made between startups and corporates. Furthermore 20 CEOs of multinationals came together with 20 startup founders in a Captains Meetup to design a roadmap on how corporates can further boost the startup ecosystem.

The private Captains Meetup took place in the presence of Special Envoy for startups Neelie Kroes, Dutch Minister Henk Kamp and Professor Justin Jansen, academic director of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship. The Captains Meetup was organized by Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship under the flag of StartupDelta. “We got enormous support from all innovation hubs by bringing together a selected group of high quality startups from all over the Netherlands”. says Jurgen Nieuwenhuijsen, organizer of the How To Get There Summit. “You can feel the power of StartupDelta when all the innovation hubs work together for one common goal”.

The group, existing of CEOs of Dutch corporates and founders of several Dutch startups, made important progress in improving collaborations between startups and corporates. Three important challenges were discussed during the Captains Meetup: 

  1. How can an established organization become ‘startup ready’?
  2. How can a startup become ‘corporate ready’?
  3. What role do innovation hubs play in bringing corporates and startups together?

The challenges were discussed in small mixed groups of corporate CEOs and startup founders. The participants agreed upon the fact that startup policy should be a board level topic for corporates. “It is key that startup policy becomes an integral component of corporate strategy. Top-down and bottom-up” said Rob van Leen, Chief Innovation Officer at DSM. In order to successfully collaborate with corporates startups should understand how corporates work. The CEOs noted that they are often looking for an integrated solution that fits their current processes, while startups are often pitching a single technology to the corporate. Although startups should not necessarily become ‘corporate ready’, at least they should work on becoming ‘scale-up ready’. “Corporates can offer more to start-ups than is often thought: A (worldwide) marketplace, knowledge, and resources. It is not only about funding” says Edwin Hageman, CEO Netherlands at Microsoft. These resources can accelerate the growth of a startup worldwide. This is something startups should prepare for by professionalizing their processes. A full overview of the participating organizations and the outcomes of the Captains Meetup can be seen on www.htgt.nl/collaboration.

One of the main results of the Captains Meetup is that all participating corporates have been asked to appoint a Chief Startup Officer, or "CSO", who is accountable for the startup policy within the organization. These Chief Startup Officers will gather on the 10th of March for the first time to share experiences in a Frontrunners Meetup. This Frontrunners group will further identify challenges and work towards an evidence based approach to successfully collaborate for startups and corporates. This knowledge will be captured and distributed by Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship and other partners. In April 2016 all the outcomes of the Frontrunners Meetup will be presented during a high-level Captains Dinner. In May 2016 these results will gain international exposure during Startup Fest Europe. 

If you are interested to have a CSO appointed in your organization, then contact Jurgen Nieuwenhuijsen ([email protected]). For more information visit www.htgt.nl/collaboration