Ready for US expansion? ScaleNL Accelerator opens applications for its upcoming East Coast edition

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The ScaleNL Accelerator is now accepting applications for its second cohort, an East Coast edition. ScaleNL, a public-private organisation that offers a launch platform in the US to Dutch tech startups.

ScaleNL Accelerator is an initiative funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Accelerator’s aim is to arm the newest Dutch businesses with the tools and network they need to thrive in the US market.

ScaleNL says the ideal participant will have reached product-market fit in the Netherlands and have US expansion in the next 12-24 months on their strategic roadmap.

Brief about the Accelerator programme

ScaleNL Accelerator is introduced as a 12-week US Accelerator programme. The programme selects digital-first businesses working on innovative and scalable tech across industries. The Dutch tech businesses working with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in mind will be considered for the programme.

Dutch entrepreneurs normally have a difficult time independently bringing their digital businesses to the US – they have to learn and adjust on the job for roughly a year or two. Through its programme, ScaleNL Accelerator gives Dutch tech companies the opportunity to join the US market competitively from Day 1.

What to expect from the accelerator programme?

This time, the Accelerator programme will concentrate on fostering business relationships with the US East Coast, specifically New York and Boston. The East Coast edition will take place in a hybrid style, with both online and in-person sessions with experts from January to March 2023. 

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These sessions come in a range of formats, such as seminars, master courses, ask-me-anything meetings with successful founders, and office hours with seasoned mentors.

The programme also includes a business trip to the US East Coast, visiting Boston and New York.

Barry Nieuwenhuijs, Deputy Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York, says, “We are incredibly excited to bring the second cohort to the USA East Coast. This region offers enormous opportunities to grow and expand innovative businesses. Our team, together with our partners, are ready to support this next generation of Dutch entrepreneurs in the USA.”

Criteria to be met by the applicants

ScaleNL Accelerator’s East Coast version is accessible to companies with a variety of business models and sectors. This region is most attractive to Dutch Tech companies with the following focus areas based on the expertise of the region:

  • Technologies related to: B2B, SaaS, big data & analytics, e-commerce, AI
  • Industry focused on: biotech, life science & health, fintech, cyber security, logistics, photonics, food & agritech
  • Sustainability Initiatives (SDGs): clean tech, energy transition, etc.

In an interview with Silicon Canals, Michael Dooijes and Jorn Poldermans, Startup Liaisons for the Netherlands in the US, Dooijes says, “Following the success of our first West Coast cohort, we again welcome all Dutch tech startups with US expansion ambitions, working on innovative, scalable and sustainable solutions. The Netherlands is good at solving global challenges together, and we‘d like to see this reflected in the selected startups. Since it’s a bespoke programme, any type of startup can find value.”

“Our Accelerator is an ideal fit for companies that have an established business in The Netherlands and/or Europe (product-market fit, solid user base) and currently have US expansion in the next 12-24 months on their strategic roadmap. This way, their international growth will lead to jobs and opportunities back in the Netherlands,” he adds.

How will the winning startups/scaleups be selected?

According to ScaleNL, 10 businesses are chosen to participate in each programme edition. 15 teams are invited to Selection Day from among all applicants, out of which the independent Selection Board makes the final decision. The board is made up of business owners, financiers, and knowledgeable consultants from the Dutch and American markets.

Interested companies can apply here.

How the programme has evolved since last year

Michael Dooijes says, “The ScaleNL is the first NL-US accelerator and just finished its first cohort. So obviously we are constantly making adjustments based on the feedback from our Founders and Advisors to better support future Dutch tech startups.”

For the second cohort, the Accelerator will concentrate on building a presence, a network, and connections in the US cities of New York and Boston.

Many businesses from the Netherlands choose the East Coast as their location for their operations because of the manageable time difference, the simplicity and speed of access to Europe, the range of customer options, and the region’s particular industry specialisation. 

“For us, at ScaleNL we want to offer Dutch tech as much flexibility as possible and that’s why we launched both an accelerator on the West Coast and on the East Coast. Founders learn most from other founders. That’s why mentorships with other founders is core to our programme and in various Ask-me-Anything sessions, we give our accelerator cohort exposure to an amazing group of European founders that have already set up their business in the US,” adds Jorn Poldermans from New York.

The second cohort’s highlight is a business trip to the East Coast of the US, where the founders will be personally introduced to the local ecosystem, hosted by the Netherlands Consulate General in New York and Innovation Attaché Network in Boston.

ScaleNL Accelerator’s 1st cohort experience

The programme’s first cohort, which consisted of 11 firms, finished this past June, with an emphasis on interacting with the San Francisco and Los Angeles ecosystems. Participating startups have had several triumphs during the last three months.

ScaleNL Accelerator participant, Somnox’s CEO & founder Julian Jagtenberg, says, “Scaling internationally is hard – many founders make the same mistakes over and over. The ScaleNL facilitated a community of like-minded founders in our endeavour of scaling throughout the US market. Having peer-support is part of the secret sauce to international success.”

Another company that was selected in the first cohort programme is Amsterdam-based Syntho. The startup has developed advanced synthetic data software that enables organisations to speed up innovation and comply with data privacy principles and regulations.

Syntho’s founder and CEO, Wim Kees Janssen, says, “The programme allowed us to make our first steps towards the US market and accelerated our ambition with a strong US network and relevant knowledge about doing business in the US. Since the start of the programme, we are onboarding many new customers that are active in healthcare and finance and the programme definitely enabled us to be ready for that.”

As part of the ScaleNL Acclerator programme, Wim Kees Janssen and the 9 other Founders in the cohort travelled to FOUR important cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York & Washington D.C.) in order to have an in-depth conversation with top tier investors, partners, colleagues and organisations.

“As a result, we strengthened our synthetic data generation proposition and built a strong foundation to keep on expanding to the US market. Now, we have access to the key advisors, the ecosystem and the market from which we will be able to further accelerate the adoption of synthetic data,” adds Wim Kees Janssen.

We also reached out to Bits of Stock’s founder, Arash Asady, to find out about his experience with the accelerator programme. Asady says, “The programme brought together some of the best startups in the Netherlands and cultivated an experience of collaboration amongst them while travelling through the United States.”

How successful have the companies of ScaleNL’s inaugural cohort been in establishing their presence in the US?

According to Michael Dooijes, scaling up worldwide is difficult for a variety of reasons, including the requirement for capital, the scarcity of a network, and the skill shortage. “Our programme really positioned the 10 participating founders to enter the US market competitively from day 1,” he says.

“They’ve been properly introduced to the ecosystem through the three major hubs in the US: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York. On average, the founders established 15 long-term relationships during the programme (partners, investors, clients, advisors, etc.), about 30 per cent have announced funding rounds so far including US investors, and we expect to hear more success stories in the next 6-12 months,” says Dooijes.

Jorn Poldermans in New York adds, “Most importantly, these companies have a real foothold now and a local community to rely on. Paired with their understanding of doing business in the US and the work they have done to prepare their businesses for the US, it’s just a matter of time before they successfully expand into the US. And that will eventually create jobs and opportunities in the Netherlands.”

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Vishal Singh

Vishal Singh is a News Reporter and Social Media Marketing Lead at Silicon Canals. He covers developments in the European startup ecosystem and oversees the publication's social media presence. Before joining Silicon Canals, Vishal gained experience at the Indian digital media outlet Inc42, contributing to its growth with insightful content. Despite being a college dropout, his passion for writing has driven his career in journalism.

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