Launchbase pre-incubation programme: Maastricht is looking for youngsters

The Maastricht Centre for Entrepreneurship (MC4E) opened applications for its Launchbase pre-incubation programme, aimed at startup youngsters: students, graduates or anyone interested in entrepreneurship.

In this 5-month programme, the focus will be on “taking actionable steps to start and grow your business”. The people attending get help in the form of lectures, workshops, mentors/coaches and networking. Of course there will be a graduation ceremony. After the pre-incubation stage, startups can apply for full incubation.

The next round of pre-incubation will run from February 29 until end June 2016. The round will begin with an intensive introduction on the evenings of February 29 and March 2, 2016. The last day for registration is February 5, however it is advised to register earlier. There is a maximum of 30 places available. Final applications will be notified by February 15. You can register here or have a look at more detailed info.

The programme doesn’t have a real focus on a specific kind of startup, but the Maastricht area is strong in biomedical and life sciences startups.

Maastricht as a startup hub

When thinking of Maastricht and the Limburg region in the south of The Netherlands, one does not think of it as a startup hub. One of the most heard arguments about Maastricht, like Groningen in the north, is that the place is ‘so far away from it all’ – which means far from the international allure of Amsterdam and away from the main Dutch economic region, de ‘Randstad’ (the area around and between Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht).

Of course, that doesn’t mean there is no good startup climate in Maastricht. For instance, the Maastricht University is a key player in this region. As one of the most international universities in Europe, it attracts thousands of young, educated and diverse people to the city each year, said the director of the Launchbase pre-incubation programme Lydia Gommans to StartupJuncture. “This makes Maastricht a great testing market for products/services designed to go international.”

Also, the southern position of Maastricht can work like an advantage instead of a disadvantage, when thinking internationally. Gommans: ” The geographical positioning is perfect for international expansion. Within 30 minutes you can be in either Germany or Belgium by car.”

Challenges and cross collaboration

One of the biggest downsides of starting a business in the Maastricht area however, is that it can take a long time to connect with the local community. “There are often two parallel worlds running in the same town; the locals and the expats. This is something that is improving and can be overcome if people are outgoing enough”, said Gommans.

Although the student city Maastricht is young and growing in terms of entrepreneurship, the hub doesn’t “have the numbers” other big startup cities have. Gommans: “So we often collaborate with our neighbours in Aachen (Germany) and Hasselt (Belgium) to try and reach more people and encourage cross collaboration.”