This article is part of: EU2016-ezine 04

Startups and venture capitalists at Startup Fest Europe

From 24 to 28 May 2016, the Netherlands played host to Startup Fest, a series of more than 30 exciting and inspiring events focusing on matchmaking, knowledge sharing and inspiration. A wide range of themes was covered, from high-tech, water, energy, agriculture and nutrition to construction and health. The aim was to bring people together and help startups find the right investments, attract talent, and close deals in the corporate sector.

Tomorrow’s economy

Thousands of ambitious entrepreneurs, developers, hackers, investors, innovative minds and CEOs from the world’s most highly prized brands met to shape tomorrow’s economy. With an impressive line-up of keynote speakers, including Tim Cook (Apple), Travis Kalanick (Uber), Eric Schmidt (Alphabet, Google’s mother company), Nathan Blecharczyk (Airbnb), Chris Anderson (The Long Tail) and Dirk Ahlborn (Hyperloop), the opening at Amsterdam’s Beurs van Berlage on 24 May was attended by Europe’s most promising startups and the world’s leading venture capitalists.

See all keynote speeches at the opening.

Constantijn 1
Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, who will take over the role of special envoy for startups on 1 July 2016, will head StartupDelta2020 for the next 18 months.

F&A Next
25 May in Wageningen. Meeting of investors and Dutch startups from the agrifood sector. Notable participating startup companies included Mosa Meat (lab-grown meat), Protifarm (insects) and Algreen (special algae production methods).

Energy Fest
26 May in Amsterdam. Three pitching competitions, each with a different theme: IT/Big Data & Energy, Renewable Energy & Storage, and Hydrocarbon (Oil & Gas) Technology. The winning startups will each go on a networking trip to the best venture and startup hotspots in the United States.

Water Tech Fest
25 May in Leeuwarden. An event that brought together entrepreneurs, startup companies and investors from the water technology industry to stimulate the development of this technology.

High Tech Capital
25 May in Eindhoven. The speakers at this event were Marjan van Loon (CEO of Shell in the Netherlands), Rob van Gijzel (Major of Eindhoven), Peter Weijmarshausen (CEO of Shapeways) and Sunny Stalnaker (ASML). There was also a ‘CoderDojo’, where children could learn about computer programming in a fun way.

StartupDelta to be continued

Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp announced during his speech at Startup Fest Europe that the successful Dutch programme for startups was to be extended for another four-and-a-half years and would now be known as StartupDelta2020. His Royal Highness Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands will take over from Neelie Kroes as special envoy on 1 July 2016 and will head StartupDelta2020 for the next 18 months.

Great results, ambitious future

The Netherlands is now the third fastest-growing startup ecosystem in Europe, according to the 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking. Thanks partly to the efforts of StartupDelta, the Netherlands now comes fourth in the ranking for best startup ecosystem in Europe, after the UK, Germany and France. The Netherlands also comes top of the Startup Nation Scoreboard, which compares 25 countries in Europe on the basis of their efforts to improve the ecosystem for startups.

Start ups Virtual Reality
The virtual reality experience at Startup Fest Europe (Photo: Bibi Veth)

European startup ecosystem

‘I am looking forward to working with Prince Constantijn’, Mr Kamp said. ‘With his broad experience, in both the public and private sectors, we are gaining a special envoy of international standing. He is closely associated with startups and the regional and European startup ecosystem. Prince Constantijn is therefore the ideal person to work with government, industry and research institutions to create the right environment for new entrepreneurs. This will benefit startups and allow them to grow into major players. Which is good for jobs, productivity and competitiveness in the Netherlands.’

Global top five

‘The government will support the agenda to allow the Netherlands to continue benefiting from the innovations startups bring’, said Mr Kamp. ‘My ambition is for the Netherlands to make it into the global top five in the Compass startup ecosystem ranking by 2020. We are now in 19th place. So we need to keep working for a better startup climate, alongside investors, research institutions and startups themselves.’


StartupDelta2020 will have a mandate for four-and-a-half years to continue the work started in the programme’s first phase. The 14 primary Dutch innovation regions will work more closely together to speed up innovation and attract promising foreign startups and companies to the Netherlands. More attention will also be focused on enabling startups to grow and develop, and on areas like fintech and agrifood.


Dutch startups and innovation regions will join forces in StartupDelta2020 to build the Netherlands’ international reputation as a country for startups. An agenda for action will be drawn up in summer 2016 under the leadership of the new special envoy. The agenda will form the basis for the StartupDelta2020 organisation, which will operate flexibly, working towards solutions in different teams. Appropriate parties will be brought into the process to tackle particular themes. (Photo: QuTech)