Dutch startup hub Utrecht emerges from Amsterdam’s shadow

 In AgnostiPay, amsterdam, Arches Capital, Arthur Tolsma, CargoSnap, Codean, De Contentkalender, EC investor survey, Erik Stam, Europe, Irene Van de Poll, Jasper Voorendonk, Jorg Kop, Leon Brunenberg, Luuk Post, Marcel Merkx, Menno Vergeer, Netherlands, Paul Mignot, Redgrasp, Roelof Reineman, ROM Utrecht Region, Startups, Stefan Braam, Stichting Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Observatory, TC, Utrecht, UtrechtInc, Withthegrid

While Amsterdam garners the lion’s share of attention in the Netherlands tech ecosystem, the not-so-far-away region around Utrecht has its fair share of tech startups and investors, as is evidenced by our latest survey of locals, below.

Area ecosystem wranglers such as StartupUtrecht, UtrechtInc, Holland Startup, Utrecht Community and others bring startups, scaleups, corporates, angels, VCs, local government, banks and universities together to build the local startup ecosystem. They also benefit from the formidable Netherlands tech advocate initiative StartupDelta and The Netherlands Enterprise Agency, which promote the Netherlands more widely.

Utrecht is the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, with 350,000 inhabitants. Its offices and co-working spaces include Dotslash Utrecht, De Stadstuin, MindSpace and Tribes; as well as accelerator programs like Startupbootcamp and Techleap.

Notable startups from the region include Distimo (acquired by AppAnnie), unicorn GitLab, MoneyMonk and StuComm. Plus there are newer ones such as SnappCar, Blendle, Merus, Nibblr, United Wardrobe, Näpp, Lalaland, 2DAYSMOOD and Remind2Change.

Our survey respondents think the ecosystem is strong in sustainable energy, medtech, food tech, life sciences, marketplaces, deep tech, gaming and media. However, they seem to think it’s weaker in design, hardware, fintech, robotics and agritech.

Notable startups named by our respondents include Channable, Pepscope, Goin’ Connect, Fundsup, Tover, Faqta, Sensorfact, SODAQ, Picnic, Neurolytics, De Clique, Solease, BikeFlip, Packaly, DiManEx, Trunkrs, DialogueTrainer, EatMyRide, CART-Tech, Prolira, among many, many others. It just goes to show the region has a strong and growing ecosystem.

The investment scene is described variously as focusing on software, clean tech, life sciences, biotech, organoids, 3D bioprinting, AI and VR/AR. One says: “In Amsterdam it’s ok. Utrecht is a bit lagging.” Another said, “The investor scene focuses on early-stage, scalable tech in healthcare, sustainability and education. [There are] many local informal investors and nationally operating VCs.”

With the shift to remote working, many respondents think people will “preferably move out of the city center toward the villages nearby” as there is “a lot of nature/space around.” That said, Utrecht is “a growing hub” and many will “stay in the city. But fewer people will move in, and remote working is there to stay.” It’s also easy to work remotely in the Netherlands given its proximity to other big European cities, so it may attract new digital nomads, “thanks to the central position of Utrecht in the middle of the country and the attractiveness of the ecosystem.”

We surveyed:


Jorg Kop, investment manager, ROM Utrecht Region

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Digital, gaming, e-health, edtech, sustainability.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Channable, Pandora Intelligence, Sensorfact, SnappCar, Faqta, StuComm, DiManEx, Prolira, CART-Tech.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
Many local informal investors and national operating VCs.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Others will be moving in, thanks to the central position of Utrecht in the middle of the country and the attractiveness of the ecosystem.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Sjoerd Mol (Benvalor), Erik Stam (Utrecht University), Robbert-Jan Hanse (Holland Startup), Heerd Jan Hoogeveen (Startup Utrecht), Jorg Kop (UtrechtInc and ROM), Edgard Creemers (ROM).

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Part of the greater Amsterdam region from an international brand perspective, closely working together with all other key startup regions in NL.

Stefan Braam, incubation lead, UtrechtInc

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong: AI, health, sustainability and learning. Weak: robotics, engineering, ag.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Solease, SnappCar, BikeFlip, Packaly, Sensorfact, DiManEx, Näpp, Trunkrs, StuComm, Faqta, DialogueTrainer, EatMyRide, CART-Tech, Prolira, MRIguidance, Redgrasp, SyncVR, DigiDok, Learned.io, 2DAYSMOOD, Hooray and Goin’ Connect.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
Good access to funding. Investor scene focuses on early-stage, scalable tech in healthcare, sustainability and education.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
We see an increase in startups coming to the city, due to livability in the lovely city and the facilities for flex working.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Jorg Kop (director of UtrechtInc startup incubator), Heerd Jan Hoogeveen (director of StartupUtrecht), Arjan Van Den Born (director, ROM Utrecht).

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Growing fast, in top five in Europe in five years.

Irene Van de Poll, investment manager, ROM Utrecht Region

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
The Utrecht region is strong in life sciences, medtech, software (smart services), gaming and media.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Channable, Faqta, Sensorfact, SODAQ, Picnic, Neurolytics, De Clique.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
A lot of focus is on life sciences, biotech, as there is a lot of research at the Utrecht science park and also spin-offs. At the science park, organoids, 3D bioprinting, organ on a chip, medtech are areas of interest. Also a number of the VCs in the area are health focused. IT/software/data/AI and VR/AR are also important focus areas for investors.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
I think they will stay as Utrecht is very centrally located in the Netherlands and Europe. It’s easy to work remotely in the Netherlands, internet speed is no problem.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Jorg Kop, director of UtrechtInc; Bas van Abel, founder De Clique and Fairphone; Michiel Muller, CEO Picnic; Robbert Jan Hanse, founder Holland Startup; and Heerd Jan Hoogeveen, director StartupUtrecht.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
More startups that have evolved into successful scaleups. More money invested in general in innovative new companies. International talent sees Utrecht as the place to be beside Amsterdam. At the forefront of green and sustainable solutions.

Arthur Tolsma, co-founder and CEO, Codean

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong: tech development in general, specifically software, clean tech, marketplace, deep tech. Less in large scale commercialization.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Channable, Tover.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
Focus on software and clean tech.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay in the city. But less people will move in, and remote working is there to stay.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
UtrechtInc.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Improving step by step.

Paul Mignot, founder and CEO, Withthegrid

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Clean tech.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
iwell.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
Clean tech focus. Growing in momentum.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Move in.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Grown significantly. Amsterdam is pricing itself out and becoming too expensive to live in.

Marcel Merkx, founder and CEO, CargoSnap

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong universities in the marketing and medical space. We could do with a bit stronger IT education (developers!).

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
SnappCar.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay and move in. Utrecht is a growing hub.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
StartupUtrecht — the team.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Well … still lagging Amsterdam, but leveraging the central place in the Netherlands (easy to get to), it will be a good runner-up in terms of attracting talent interested in joining this scene.

Jasper Voorendonk, marketer/founder, AgnostiPay

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Health tech/edtech — most exited: the DLT/blockchain/fintech/open-source space in Utrecht.  Weak: Hardware-based startups (better in Delft/Eindhoven).

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
GitLab, Channable, Pepscope, Goin’ Connect, Fundsup.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
Focus on health tech.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay: a lot of nature/space around.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Jorg Kop, Stefan Braam, Jasper Voorendonk.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Utrecht, as the Dutch vibrant hub for early-stage, highly scalable tech startups.

Menno Vergeer, co-founder and CEO, Redgrasp

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong in life sciences.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Channable, Redgrasp, Trunkrs.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
People will preferably move out of the city center toward the villages nearby (all within a range of 10-20 km).

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
It will grow at a rate similar to the global tech scene.

Roelof Reineman, entrepreneur

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong: IT, digital, sustainable energy, medical, food. Weaker: design, hardware, fintech.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
KokeRoo.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
A focus on building a better world and a profit, not just the profit.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay. Tt is a lush, green city with plenty of room to live and breathe.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Utrecht Inc (Jasper Voorendonk). Dotslash (Jelle Drijver). StartupUtrecht (Heerd Jan Hoogeveen).

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Thriving and still growing.

Luuk Post, partner, De Contentkalender

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

We’re strong in public affairs. We’re weak in the for-profit sector.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Moveshelf.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
The city of Utrecht is ever-expanding; people will always move in.

Leon Brunenberg, managing partner, Arches Capital

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
SAAS, software, B2B.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
In Amsterdam it’s ok. Utrecht is a bit lagging.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
In Holland, second after Amsterdam.

Erik Stam, co-founder, Stichting Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Observatory

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong: health, edtech, IT.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Channable, Tover, De Clique, Bittiq, Neurolytics.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
IT, health, edtech, travel.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Jorg Kop, Heerd Jan Hoogeveen, Robbert Jan Hanse.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Expanding.

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt