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5 reasons to move your startup to Rotterdam, the Netherlands – from a local

When we think of the Netherlands, most of us think of Amsterdam. But there is a hidden gem in the Netherlands which has seen tremendous development in the last few years. And that city is Rotterdam.

You might know that Rotterdam is the home of Europe’s largest seaport. What you might not know is that the city was almost completely destroyed in the second World War. Rising from the ashes, Rotterdam has become world famous due to its modern and groundbreaking architecture. The city has been nicknamed Manhattan at the Meuse and the architectural capital of the Netherlands, both for its skyline and its internationally leading architectural firms. The city is also home to more than 170 nationalities. 

Incubators and Innovation programmes It’s not only the architecture that makes the city attractive today. Rotterdam also has several universities and special entrepreneurship programmes such as the Erasmus Centre of Entrepreneurship. For startups that need an extra kick, Rotterdam is home to several incubators, accelerators that provide more than the workspace and financial capital needed to take off such as the Cambridge Innovation Centre, Erasmus MC Incubator or YES!Delft. This mix of organisations give access to a great tech and business talent pool.

Booming tech sector  Most importantly, Rotterdam‘s tech sector is booming with more than 500 startups, grown from 163 in 2018 and about 50 scaleups. We are seeing a mix of hyper-growth scaleups, small creative startups and everything in between. Thousands of startups and nearly 200 multinationals have their European headquarters in Amsterdam, including Netflix, Uber, Tesla, and Salesforce, and the likes of Quantib, arGEN-X, Hello Print, Vakanties.nl, Coolblue or Ortec Finance are paving the way in Rotterdam.

Extensive resources – Additionally, there are several organisations that can help you make those valuable connections such as the Startup Foundation or Venture Cafe Rotterdam, and the city is home to several angels and VCs who are quite active nowadays. ICOS Capital Management, Robeco, Lunatech Ventures, CNBB Venture Partners or Enviu have funded several startups in 2020. Moreover, founders can find here Equidam, a very handy valuation tool. Equidam provides online business valuations as well as personal valuation advice.

High quality of life – More good news for startup founders is that Rotterdam has 15% lower living expenses than Amsterdam. The Dutch capital has experienced an important rise in demand over the past decade, making Rotterdam a compelling alternative for founders and employees alike. In order words, in Rotterdam you can enjoy the Dutch way of living, benefitting from an affordable and quality lifestyle.

National and local government support Rotterdam startups and scaleups raised nearly €69 million in 2018, more than €34 million than 2017. In 2019, Dutch startups have raised a whopping sum of €1.5 billion. In early 2020 things became somewhat complex for all the startups out there due to the crisis that hit Europe and the world. And so the Dutch Government’s Covid-19 support came to the rescue for some with a package which includes several tax deferrals, a temporary employment bridging scheme, and a credit guarantee program. Techleap.nl together with the regional development agencies, offer structured soft loans for startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs, which provides bridge loans of up to €2 million.

If you want to learn more about the Dutch ecosystem and Rotterdam’s one in particular check out our news section dedicated to the Netherlands.

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Veronica Fresneau
Veronica Fresneau
Veronica Fresneau is a tech and startups enthusiast, and an advocate for women in tech, startups and VC space. She has more than fifteen years of Marketing & Communications experience in several EMEA markets. Veronica is currently based in Amsterdam, where she coordinates marketing & comms for Europe & LATAM for Rockstart, early stage accelerator-VC.

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