Rotterdam-based Graduate Entrepreneur Fund, an early-stage financier that aims to stimulate the startup ecosystem in Delft and Rotterdam, announced on Wednesday that it has raised €56M to back founders at pre-Seed, Seed, and Series A stages.
Recently launched, the fund has already invested in more than ten startups, two of which are Quantware and Workwize.
The Delft-based Quantware claims to be the world’s first commercial supplier of low-cost superconducting quantum processors. Workwize is a platform with which companies such as Netflix, Mollie and Douwe Egberts manage all their inventory, orders, budgets, and products for the home-office of their employees.
Aims to lift the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rotterdam and Delft
Graduate Entrepreneur is an initiative of a group of influential and merited alumni of Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus MC, and the Delft University of Technology. The initiative was announced on April 8, 2021.
The fund is led by the Fund Management Team, consisting of Auke van den Hout, Angela Pellaupessy, Ludolf Stavenga, and Nienke Roef, who work together with a student team from Delft and Rotterdam. Besides funding, the alumni offer coaching and access to an extensive network.
The Graduate Entrepreneur Fund focuses on investments in companies that develop technologies that the universities of Delft and Rotterdam are known for, including medtech, logistics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Graduate Entrepreneur finances and guides young startups to further develop their innovations and subsequently market them. The investment requirement is that at least one of the founders must have studied or worked at the Delft University of Technology, the Erasmus MC or the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Ticket size and eligibility
Graduate Entrepreneur invests from the earliest phase with tickets starting at €50K. For these investments, the fund works together with a special student team that scouts these startups. At the Seed and Series A stage, the fund invests tickets up to €2M, which is managed by its Fund Management Team.
In addition to capital, the Graduate’s experienced group of investors also provide support to founders through the Graduate Entrepreneur coaching programme.
Auke van den Hout, Managing Partner of Graduate Entrepreneur Fund, says, “In the past year we saw a lot of venture capital entering the Dutch and European market, with a shift of investments to later-stage companies. However, it is this earliest phase – when the innovations start – in which the availability of funding is becoming increasingly limited.”
He further adds, “By stepping in at the very early stage and guiding young entrepreneurs through the challenging start, more companies will grow into successful scale-ups and the Netherlands can position itself as the unicorn machine of Europe. The potential has been there for a long time already, we now have the money to make it happen.”
Every year, thousands of new innovations are launched from universities across Europe. However, actual conversion from these innovations into commercial success is an exception to the rule. Those who do try are often unsuccessful, partly because they cannot find their way to financing and customers. The Graduate Entrepreneur Fund aims to change this.