When an US venture capital firm sets up shop with a fund in The Netherlands, it obviously doesn't go unnoticed. In 2014, the Cottonwood Technology Fund (CTF) immediately put their money where their mouth was by investing in Clear Flight Solutions. Last year CTF invested in Eurekite and this year OPNT got funding. Now Cottonwood has settled comfortably in the Twente region. We interviewed Ray Quintana, general manager of CTF. "The high tech ecosystem is really impressive for such a small area."
What are the pros (and cons) of the high tech climate in Twente?
"The Kennispark is amazing, for their core research. They are enabling technologies to be leveraged into every single industry. It's really one of the examples of Dutch entrepreneurial culture."
"There's not really a con, but if I had to say something, it would be about the whole Dutch startup scene. All startups need to be better in communicating to the market and to investors. You need that visibility and exposure. "
How does the Dutch scene differ from the US, size aside?
"For startups, it's hard to build momentum and scale here. But if you can get traction in this 17 million people market, by default you can replicate it to the US."
As a VC, how do you choose a region to expand to?
"We look at it from a technological and an IP point of view. The Twente area has world class tech. It also has the highest number of patents and IP in The Netherlands. Eindhoven is also great, but a lot of the tech is not 'out there', but hidden in corporates. So Twente has the most opportunities for us."
"The Twente startup ecosystem is impressive for such a small region. Also, Twente is a great geographical spot in the entire European startup ecosystem. Draw a circle around Twente en you hit Amsterdam, Berlin, London and Paris. It’s the central area to be."
What will you be talking about on The Future of High Tech event?
"Neelie Kroes talked a lot about international visibility. So I will use this event to communicate to my ecosystem how dynamic this country is, and Twente in particular. This region has the potential to build global companies. I want to add something to the awareness."
What are your Dutch investment plans for this year?