10 things you didn’t know about the Dutch scaleup ecosystem



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The Dutch scaleup ecosystem is performing well and funding is flowing to fast growing technology companies. Bynder, BitFury, Bloomon, uShip, and Amplitude raised each more than € 20M in funding. Amsterdam is the clear focal point of the country with half of all scaleups based in this city. Eindhoven and Utrecht are the second scaleup cities. 

Dutch scaleup ecosystem

Below 10 highlights characterizing the Dutch scaleup ecosystem. It’s based on Sirris‘ data taking into account investments of at least €750K in the last 20 months.

1. It takes 5 years for a Dutch scaleup to raise a series A

That’s right, a startup needs to survive with customer generated revenue, grants and seed investment for 5 long years. No wonder the majority of startups are dying in the valley of death.

But this is an average, there are exceptions. Sposea and Avion Group did it just in 1 year. Others, such as PropTech scaleup Convious can start with an exceptional high seed capital of € 1.8 million. Pritle, MDLinking, InvoiceFinance, Autheos, Recruitz.io, TRVL and Aidence did even better with a higher amount of seed.

iWelcome, Mint Solutions, Helloprint and SendCloud raised a series B totaling € 14 million.

2. Artificial Intelligence is the #1 technology for Dutch scaleups

Artificial Intelligence is hot and the Netherlands is an AI hotbed. SciSports, Crowdynews, Crobox, Dimebox, DashTag, Recruitz.io, Sensara, Castor EDC, Aidence and Stream are showing the way. Robo-advisor Pritle is already been acquired by Binckbank earlier this year.

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3. 4,5% of all European Investors is based in the Netherlands

More than 200 investors invested in Dutch scaleups in the last 20 months.

The top 3 of most active investors are:

  1. Newion Investments
  2. INKEF Capital
  3. henQ

Both Newion Investments and INKEF Capital are in the top 100 of most active investors in Europe. A typical Dutch VC fund is being founded in 2006 with a team of 8 people; investing 1,8 times per year and; managing over € 100 million in assets. The youngest fund is Slingshot Capital.

Corporate Venture Capitalists are younger (founded in 2015) and smaller (7 people). KPN Ventures and Mainport Innovation Fund are among the most active Corporate investors. New kid on the block is ABN AMRO Digital Impact Fund.

The most active foreign investors in the Netherlands are Balderton Capital (UK), EQT Ventures (Sweden) and Battery Ventures (USA).

  • HealthTech rules the Dutch waves

HealthTech is the most funded industry in the Netherlands, followed by FinTech, Supply Chain, MediaTech and Travel. Delft based HealthTech scaleup NightBalance and Amsterdam based myTomorrows raised the highest amounts in the industry.

The oldest VC fund in the Netherlands is Utrecht based Gilde Healthcare that obviously has HealthTech as an investment focus. It’s also one of the few Dutch VC funds that has over a billion euro of assets under management.

HealthTech is a domain that has the exclusive attention of a number of Dutch VCs, probably the highest in Europe. Utrecht for example has in addition to Gilde Healthcare, also the Thuja Capital and Health Innovations funds on its territory making the city a center for health and life sciences.

4. IPOs

Takeaway is the only tech IPO raising € 328M in 2016. The lack of IPOs is everywhere in Europe with the notable exception of Sweden (19 IPOs). A new type of public market is Nxchange, acting as a hybrid of a stock exchange and crowdfunding platform.

5. 8% of Dutch scaleups are spinoffs from universities

That’s just below the European average of 11% and far below the European leaders Switzerland (28%), Portugal (20%) and Belgium (18%). Not surprising these spinoffs are often active in HealthTech (Cytomate Technologies, Optics11, NightBalance, NovioSense, Sensara…). The University of Twente is churning out the most scaleups.

6. 21% of Dutch scaleups participate in an acceleration program

That’s in line with the European average of 22% with Portugal (47%), Italy (36%) and Belgium (30%) having the highest participating grade. Interesting, the best performing scaleup ecosystem in Europe, Sweden, has a acceleration participation grade of only 5%. Startupbootcamp is leading (SendCloud, Mint Solutions, DashTag,  & Undagrid) followed by Rockstart (Wercker, 3D Hubs & Bomberbot) and YES!Delft (TradeCloud, ParkBee & Kien).

Also , high number of Dutch scaleups got accepted by the prestigious Y Combinator (Impraise, GitLab & Amplitude), on par with the UK and a clear indication of the quality of Dutch scaleups. Also Techstars (Peerby & Stream) is fishing in the Dutch scaleup talent pool.

7. 21% of Dutch scaleups receive corporate investments

Once again this is in line with the rest of Europe (22%). Portugal (33%), Ireland (32%) and Germany (31%) are the highest. The largest corporate investments went to uShip (Supply Chain), Flytxt (Business Intelligence) and Snappcar (Mobility).

8. Lack of women: 3.6% of Dutch (co)-founders is female

It’s a surprising low number for the low countries, far below the 8,8% average in Europe. But a similar trend can be observed in the Nordics: Sweden (7,1%), Denmark (1,4%), Norway (6,52%) and Finland (6,6%). Southern Europe is doing better: Spain (9,1%), Portugal (40%), Italy (13,9%) and Greece (25%).

9. Job creators

12 months after funding, Vandebron, Bynder, GitLab and Amplitude are the biggest job creators. On the other hand SciSports, Crowdynews and Robot Robots Company are reducing the most headcount.

10. 68% of Dutch scaleups are Business-to-Business

This is higher than the rest of Europe (59% B2B) and the opposite of Silicon Valley where 2 of 3 are B2C oriented.

Sunset in Amsterdam image by Shutterstock




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Omar Mohout

Omar Mohout, currently Entrepreneurship Fellow at Sirris, is a former technology entrepreneur, is a widely published technology author, C-level advisor to high growth startups as well as Fortune 500 companies and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Antwerp Management School. He is author of 'Pricing Strategies for Startups', 'The Belgian Startup Landscape', ‘Crowdfunding in Belgium’, ’99 reasons why startups fail’ and the popular 'Startup Master Class series'.

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