Let the Countdown Begin!

Dear friends,

With just five more months to go with StartupDelta, we would like to keep you posted on the latest facts, fun and results around our activities! This will be the start of our weekly blog until 1st July 2016.

Just to remind you: We started this journey in January 2015 with a clear vision on how to do things differently, based on a startup state of mind, with the goal to strengthen the Dutch startup ecosystem and reaching a top 3 position within Europe.

Our strategy is simple and focused: First of all by "Linking up" all hubs within the Netherlands and connecting our country – being One Single Hub – to all the mayor hubs in Europe and North- America. Secondly by "Changing the system" by putting startups firmly on the agenda of all the mayor stakeholders in government, enterprise, academia and influencing their policy with great ideas and offers they couldn't refuse. Last, but not least, by "Creating impact" together with these stakeholders.

The key ingredients to this approach: work with where you find the energy and the people with passion and good ideas. Give them a major role and hand over the responsibility. Furthermore, we set ourselves a limited timeframe of one and a half year to be able to create a maximum push on all levels of involvement. The last thing we wanted, was to become another bureaucratic layer, aiming for eternity.

The next five months will all be about results in the field of linking up, changing the system and creating impact. And we already have several things to be proud of: Under the Dutch EU-Presidency, in close cooperation with the Ministry of OCW, EZ and V&J, we launched the EU startup visa during the Informal Council on 27th of January. This will make it possible for founders from outside the EU, to choose residency in one member state and from there on expand into Europe without going through the same procedure 27 times.

Last week Neelie and the Dutch PM Mark Rutte visited Silicon Valley and talked to the key players like Elon Musk (Tesla), Travis Kalanick (Uber), John Chambers (Cisco), Tim Cook (Apple), Marc Andreesen (Andreesen and Horowitz) and Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook). They put the Netherlands on the map for investments, cooperation and startups / scale ups. From the investors they received a very positive response about opportunities in the Netherlands. From the Dutch community in Silicon Valley they heard the mayor trends and explored opportunities for further collaboration. At Stanford interesting views were shared on using universities as a testbed for startups. Tim Cook and Travis Kalanick welcomed the invitation to speak at the Startup Fest Europe, which is organized by Constantijn van Oranje and Jim Stolze. With the Startup Fest we aim to put the Netherlands at the epic center of the European Startup ecosystem in May 2016.

Also some great news came from one of our advisors, Bastiaan Zwanenburg, founder and student at the Technical University of Delft. Together with a dedicated team he worked on the Hyperloop, a train which can reach the speed of an airplane. They became second in a contest organized by Elon Musk. On our web link to the advisors you will soon be able to follow the accomplishments of all of our talented men and women sharing their thoughts and ideas with us.

Last week we also gathered all the Dutch hubs at Brightlands in Chemelot to invite and challenge them to play a stimulating role in strengthening the cooperation between corporates and startups. With inspiring presentations by Prof Justin Jansen (EUR) Herman Wories (DSM) and Corina Kuiper (CVNN) we challenged them to identify their added value. This is part of a strategy we developed with the Erasmus University and Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship to come to a strategic program to strengthen the cooperation between startups and corporates. It is a follow up of the big How To Get There event in Rotterdam on November 19.

Also great news from The Ministry of Economic Affairs. They will shorten the period in which startups will hear the outcome of their WBSO application from three months to one month! And they have opened a new tender of the Seed Capital Fund. The total budget will be 24 million euro's. Some great startups like Catawiki once were funded by this fund. You can apply until the end of March. The Minister of Finance, Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced that, in order to speed up financial technologies and give space to startups in this sector in the Netherlands, he was very much in favor of a Special Envoy for Fintech.

All in all, fantastic things are happening in the Netherlands, with the support and drive of many. We cannot emphasize that enough. Of course, StartupDelta is all an experiment. It is a startup in itself. You have to aim high. Try and fail, try again and improve your model as a lean startup. We are learning and learning fast, with a dedicated team of around fifteen people. And thanks to the PM of the Netherlands and the Minister of Economic Affairs, who asked Neelie to become the Special Envoy, this is all made possible.

One and a half year will be enough to make the change for the Startup ecosystem in the Netherlands and then we will hand it over to the players in the ecosystem. In Munich, a written statement on the wall, close to the statue of Mr. Frauenhofer said: “Sometimes the journey starts, upon arrival". There is always a new adventure.

 

Neelie Kroes, Special Envoy for Startups 
Sigrid Johannisse, Director StartupDelta