Ecosystem Spotlight: 5 Questions to … Up!Rotterdam

Rotterdam Ecosystem

What is unique about the Rotterdam ecosystem? (e.g., industry focus, founder background, technologies, fundraising etc.) What is its biggest strength?

Rotterdam is the best connected large city in Europe, providing startups an international gateway into Europe and the world. Through smart regional and national partnerships, Up!Rotterdam (Up!) focuses on startups that drive the transition to a future-proof economy, that is digital, carbon neutral, circular, and inclusive. Strong clusters include Smart Logistics, Energy and Life Sciences & Health.

The Greater Rotterdam Area is also home to numerous strong knowledge and research institutions, as well as a hotbed for talent and entrepreneurship. The Erasmus University, the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, and the nearby Delft University of Technology are among the best-ranked universities in the world. Among the EUR and Delft campuses, no less than 28% of the students are enrolled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs/courses.

Alumni from the area pay it forward with the largest seed fund in the Netherlands, Graduate Entrepreneur, which is backed by Alumni of Erasmus University and the Technical University of Delft. The Graduate Entrepreneur Alumni Fund raised €56M to convert innovations from the universities of Delft and Rotterdam into commercial success.


How do you measure your tech and investment ecosystem? What are the metrics you care about?

Up!Rotterdam uses several metrics to monitor and support the ecosystem. Our number one metric is the % of startups that get to scale. Furthermore, we measure a broad range of indicators that cover ecosystem metrics, access to talent, access to market, access to capital, and mentions of founders in leading (international) media and events.


How do you foster collaboration within your ecosystem to support startups and build a future-proof economy in your city?

Innovation hubs, co-working spaces and programming can be found at various locations in and around Rotterdam, providing resource-rich, stimulating environments that bring together ideas, talent and money.

The greater Rotterdam region is also home to a number of serious playgrounds: areas where experimentation for new concepts is possible, where there is less regulation and where consumers are involved in the development of new products. Examples include BlueCity, Future Mobility Park, Robohouse, The GreenVillage, RHIA and the M4H district including the Floating Farm.

In 2019, public-private partnership Up! was launched to help startups get to scale. With more than 45 partners, Up! connects and strengthens existing initiatives, and co-creates new actions where needed. Offering better access to talent, international markets, capital and (peer) networks.

Upstream, the annual scale-up event for sustainable growth, connects founders, investors, bold corporate and other change-makers for a 3-day immersive experience. The 2022 edition attracted more than 2100 visitors in more than 45 events. The fourth edition of Upstream will be held from May 23 – May 25, 2023. Pre-register for tickets here.


Are there startups that stand out for you in terms of the innovative solutions that they’ve built?

With so many innovative startups and scale-ups, it’s hard to pick a favourite. A good starting point is our scale-up founder podcast series, where we’ve interviewed inspiring founders like Jan van der Tempel (Ampelmann, Walk to Work),  Charlotte Melkert (Equalture, Unbiased Hiring), Cinzia Silvestri (Biond, Organ-on-chips), Hamed Sadeghian (Nearfield Instruments, semiconductor metrology), Tim Houter (Hardt Hyperloop), Esther O’Callaghan (Hundo Careers, web3 skills platform), Simon van der Jagt (NOWI, energy harvesting chipsets) and many many more.


What is the biggest challenge(s) which you hope to solve in the next 5 years?

Our economies, society, and humanity at large face unprecedented challenges. Challenges cannot be solved by established players alone. Together, we need to double down on supporting bold startups that can provide innovative impactful solutions at scale. In addition, we need to increase diversity in founder teams and tech in general.


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