The Dutch flourishing startup ecosystem can be attributed to several key factors, including the country's strategic location, access to the European market, advanced seaports, highly ranked educational institutions, and supportive government regulations. Furthermore, the Netherlands' public-private partnerships enable collaboration between the private sector, research universities, and government entities, which results in innovation and growth. This article examines the potential of the Netherlands' tech industry by focusing on the visions and potential behind key Dutch unicorns and Dutch soonicorns.
The Dutch startup ecosystem should first be considered in light of the fact that the country ranked fourth on the EU Innovation Scoreboard in 2022 - an indicator of the country's focus on progress and innovation. The Netherlands is characterized by a globally competitive and highly qualified workforce, a thriving tech sector, and abundant incubators. Moreover, the country is one of the most connected economies in the world, which directly affects the number of investors it attracts. In fact, the Netherlands ranks fourth in Europe for the startup landscape, with Amsterdam having the fastest-growing ecosystem.
According to a report from 2022, every year, around 1,000 new start-ups are initiated in the Netherlands. Additionally, as Statista’s report outlines, The Netherlands had more than 4,000 startups in 2019, with approximately 700 of these startups operating within the enterprise software sector.
The country’s bright startup ecosystem is also directly influenced by its position in the Benelux region, where the competitiveness between Dutch and Belgian startup actors is considerably high. The competitive environment in the region encourages further progress and innovation, which results in the economic growth of both countries. For more information on the top Belgian unicorns, check out our article.
A unicorn is a term used to describe a startup valued at one billion dollars or more by venture capital. Unicorns are frequently recognized through their scalability-enabling business models. Given their established market position, industry expertize, and potential for substantial growth, investing in unicorns is considered very attractive. This section outlines the diamonds in the crown of the Dutch startup ecosystem- a list of the most outstanding Dutch unicorns.
Adyen is a fintech startup that simplifies and expedites global payments. Access to local payment systems enables Adyen to simplify the payment process for merchants and provide them with valuable insight into shopper behavior.
The Adyen infrastructure supports online and point-of-sale payments, virtual and physical cards, and includes revenue optimization and risk management tools. For networks like Visa and Mastercard, the company provides end-to-end payment infrastructure.
Founded in 2006 by Pieter van der Does, Adyen is headquartered in Amsterdam. As of 2015, Adyen was valued at $2.3 billion, making it Europe's sixth-largest unicorn. The company works with various businesses such as eBay, Facebook, H&M, Uber, and Microsoft and has offices across the globe.
BitFury, a leading unicorn company, produces processors and devices for mining cryptocurrencies and has established data centers in various countries worldwide. Among BitFury's product offerings are ASICs used in blockchain, cloud, and AI-based cryptocurrency mining. Further, in addition to research, the company releases publications related to blockchain.
Among its services, BitFury provides blockchain-as-a-service for government integration, a portfolio for bitcoin payments, blockchain solutions for the music industry, and a web-based law enforcement application.
BitFury was founded in 2011 by Valery Vavilov and Valery Nebesny in Amsterdam, but they did not establish their first official office until two years later. Currently, the company has offices in Amsterdam, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco and data centers in Iceland and Georgia. Across six rounds, BitFury Group has raised $170 million, with the most recent round in 2018.
MessageBird is a software company that enables businesses to communicate with their customers through a variety of channels, including SMS, voice, WhatsApp, WeChat, Messenger, email, and more. MessageBird offers customer care software using cloud-based SMS, voice, and chat APIs for over 15,000 customers, including Lufthansa Airlines, Heineken, and Deliveroo.
Businesses can easily manage different communication channels and make phone calls using multiple social media platforms. Robert Vis and Adriaan Mol launched MessageBird in 2011, offering SMS and telephone services to businesses and institutions for accessible, high-quality customer communication. An acquisition of SparkPost, a US-based company, in April 2021 they expanded the company's communications tool offerings to include email. The last total funding amount of the company was valuated at $1 billion.
Mollie is a payment processor startup that caters to the payment needs of more than 110,000 merchants of all sizes across Europe. With Mollie's payment API, merchants can accept payments online and via mobile apps and manage recurring payments and subscriptions.
By utilizing the Mollie API, merchants can offer their customers various payment methods such as Mastercard, iDEAL, Bancontact, Bitcoin, Amex, Visa, and PayPal. The platform allows users to make payments directly from their bank accounts without transferring cash to different accounts, resulting in a seamless and hassle-free payment process.
Adriaan Mol, the founder of Mollie and communication startup MessageBird, established the company in 2004. Over 130,000 businesses are already using Mollie's payment solution. It features a simple onboarding process, transparent pricing, flexible contracts, a diverse selection of payment options, a wide range of powerful plugins, local customer support, and other benefits.
Bunq is a mobile bank that offers various financial services, including current and savings accounts, prepaid cards for online and offline purchases, bill payments, and money transfers. Its unique feature is the ability for users to share bank accounts with others.
Bunq's focus is on customer satisfaction, aiming to make banking as convenient and environmentally friendly as possible. The company develops fintech solutions that make banking and money management easy, transparent, and enjoyable. Bunq is only available on mobile devices and is often addressed as a disruptor bank.
Ali Niknam, a Dutch-Canadian entrepreneur who previously founded TransIP, a web hosting service, and The Datacenter Group, established Bunq in 2012. The unicorn was founded and is headquartered in Amsterdam and has since expanded its services to more than 30 European countries. Bunq made history in 2021 by becoming the first digital bank to offer mortgages.
Hotmart facilitates the sale of digital products through a cloud-based eCommerce solution. A variety of features are included, such as content and product management, email marketing, affiliate marketing, payment processing through Hotpay, PCI Compliance, and CSE Security, along with analytics reports. A number of organizations under the Hotmart brand provide content development solutions for online businesses.
Aside from that, Hotmart Sparkle is an app that allows artists, influencers, and enthusiasts to share content without handling advertisements or algorithms. Hotmart provides a comprehensive platform for creators to launch their businesses and for shoppers to discover and purchase digital products. Established in 2011 by Mateus Bicalho and Joao Pedro Resende, the company's headquarters are located in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It has branches in eight countries with offices in 13 cities, including in the United States. Based on the latest funding information, the company has raised $130 million in funding.
Soonicorns refer to startups that have achieved a valuation of $500 million and are on the brink of attaining a $1 billion valuation. These startups are considered to be on the path to becoming unicorns. They typically secure funding from investors and financial speculators based on anticipated future projections or estimated valuations, often exceeding the startup's current value. This section of the article reveals one of the key Dutch soonicorn leaders. If we have triggered your interest in startup valuations, check our article on it.
In addition to offering job scheduling and report distribution solutions, Redwood Software also offers SAP solutions for improving organizational productivity. To effectively meet modern business challenges, the company's offerings enable businesses worldwide to optimize their information resources and IT infrastructure.
The Redwood Group provides full-stack automation solutions for essential business processes. This company has developed the first SaaS-based composable automation platform specifically designed to automate ERP workflows. Founded in 1993 in Houten by Tijl Vuyk, Redwood has become one of the leading names in full-stack automation.
Sendcloud is a comprehensive shipping platform for e-commerce businesses looking to expand. According to the company's claims, Bas Smeulders, Rob van den Heuvel, and Sabi Tolou started with a simple API in 2012 but have grown it to an all-in-one platform that automates the shipping process.
With Sendcloud, consumers and retailers can streamline the shipping process by selecting multiple carriers, automating returns, and optimizing shipping. Among Sendcloud's shipping methods are cross-border, parcel locker, same-day, and delivery at a specific time and date. The company currently serves over 23,000 customers in the Netherlands, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Austria. As evidence of Sendcloud's growing recognition not only from its clients but also from investors, the company raised $200 million in its latest funding round.
NewAmsterdam Pharma is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the clinical-stage development of innovative therapies for metabolic diseases where current treatment options are insufficient. In order to improve the lives of patients suffering from cardio-metabolic diseases, NewAmsterdam Pharma is dedicated to developing transformative therapies.
Obicetrapib, an oral, small molecule inhibitor of cholesterol ester transfer protein, is one of its key developments. The protein inhibitor targets ApoB and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) in the body, which may significantly improve cardio-renal disease. The company was founded in 2019 by John Kastelein in Naarden.
In June 2022, NewAmsterdam Pharma secured a licensing deal with Menarini Group to distribute obicetrapib in Europe and develop various forms of the drug for other illnesses, including Alzheimer's.
Art and collectibles are the focus of Catawiki's online auction platform. Platform categories include modern and contemporary art, fashion accessories, stamps, coins, banknotes, computer games, musical instruments, radios, and even cars.
The platform allows sellers to list their products with brief descriptions and images, while buyers can place bids during specific bidding periods. Depending on the winning bid, Catawiki receives a percentage.
Founded in 2008 by Rene Schoenmakers and Marco Jansen in Assen, the company now has its headquarters in Amsterdam. With more than 240 in-house experts, Catawiki offers over 65,000 unique items each week, including collectibles, art, design, jewelry, watches, classic cars, and more.
NorthSea Therapeutics B.V. is a biotech firm in Amsterdam dedicated to developing innovative treatments for metabolic disorders and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) using structurally engineered fatty acids (SEFAs).
The company's lead candidate, icosabutate, is a liver-targeted eicosapentaenoic acid derivative that is orally administered and is currently in late-stage clinical trials. Besides metabolic diseases, NorthSea Therapeutics also investigates the potential therapeutic application of SEFAs in inflammatory diseases and fibrotic disorders. The company has become an international leader, founded in 2017 in Naarden by Hilde H. Steineger, Tore The Cut, and David A Fraser.
Dott, founded in 2017 by Maxim Romain and Henri Moissinac, provides electric kick scooter rental services via an app-based platform. Users can locate an available vehicle through the app, unlock it using its QR code, and start an on-demand dockless rental. Vehicles can be parked at any legal space at the end of their rental periods.
Dott's e-scooters, first available in Lyon, France, will undergo a complete refurbishment, extending their lifespan to seven years, in order to reduce the company's environmental footprint. A team of 29 specialists disassembles the scooters, sorts them for recycling, repairing, or reusing, and then renovates and paints them. Almost 50% of Dott's carbon emissions will be reduced due to this refurbishment.
Mosa Meat specializes in meat alternatives and, more specifically, produces lab-cultured beef. Bioreactors are used to develop products based on a single cow cell. In 2015, Peter Verstrate and Mark Post founded the company in Maastricht, Netherlands. Well-known investors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Nutreco, and Blue Horizon Ventures have since founded the company.
In 2013, Mosa Meat drew attention for the world's first hamburger made from lab-grown meat, which cost a whopping €250,000 to produce. The company’s mission has been to make lab-cultured meat more affordable and accessible since its founding. The company published a paper in the journal Nature Food in 2022 describing its technique to replace fetal bovine serum, a controversial growth medium.
Founded in 2015 by Max Klijnstra and Milan Daniels, Otrium offers a solution to the problem of unsold clothing. A wide range of fashion products is available through the company's online retailer, which allows fashion brands to sell their leftover stocks at a discounted price. The Otrium platform aims to reduce clothing waste, which accounts for 12% of all clothing produced.
Excess inventory, including outlet and previous collections, is fully controlled by fashion houses in terms of pricing, merchandising, and visibility. Brands can conveniently select their available stock through Otrium's storage, sale, and shipment services. Over 300 fashion stores are now available on Otrium's app, and over 3 million users have registered. The latest information indicates that the company has raised $156 million in funding.
The Tiqets ticketing platform specializes in travel experiences such as museums, events, shows, and other attractions. Travelers can easily search, compare, and book admission tickets on the platform and receive e-tickets via email or app. Venues partner with the company directly, providing them with onsite conversion and marketing tools.
Founded in Amsterdam in 2013 by Luuc Elzinga, Maarten Raaijmakers, and Stef PillenTiqets connects millions of people to thousands of venues in more than 60 countries. The startup announced in 2019 that it had raised €54 million in a Series C funding round, with Airbnb as the lead investor. The total funding raised by the startup is estimated at $106 million.
Stable is a company that was established in 2016 by Richard Counsell to provide risk management and liquidity solutions to agribusinesses. Providing a secure and stable platform, it assists businesses in managing the risk of unpredictable agro-commodity prices.
Stable hosts a wide variety of third-party indices that are either local or closely related to its clients' physical risks. By using this approach, businesses of all sizes and sectors can achieve financial stability and invest with confidence in the future. Both farmers and financial controllers can benefit from Stable's services. Stable has secured USD 113 million in funding as of the most recent information available.
Protix, founded in 2009 by Kees Arts in Dongen, is an innovative company using insect-based ingredients to provide a sustainable protein source for plants, aquaculture, animals, and pet food. A few products offered by Protix include insect feed for fish and poultry, insect oil, fertilizer, and insect-based food ingredients.
As a result of its progressive role in food sustainability, the company was awarded the Dutch Innovation Award in 2020. Protix utilizes food residues as raw materials to produce insect-based ingredients in its fully automated production process. According to the latest information, Protix has received a disclosed funding amount of USD 97 million. The company's investors include notable names such as BNP Paribas, ECBF, and Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco.
LUMICKS specializes in the development of equipment for the analysis of Dynamic Single Molecules and Cell Avidity. Researchers can use its tools to establish the critical link between structure and function at the molecular and cellular levels. By applying and measuring forces around biological interactions, LUMICKS can analyze the underlying biological mechanisms in real-time.
Scientists can study complex biological processes with the company's flagship product, C-Trap Optical Tweezers - Fluorescence & Label-free Microscopy. Further, the z-Movi Cell Avidity Analyzer facilitates the measurement and selection of immune cells based on their real-time interactions with target cells. LUMICKS was founded in Amsterdam in 2014 by a group of innovators, including Olivier Heyning, Erwin Peterman, Gijs Wuite, and Andrea Candelli.
In3 is a multi-category app-based marketplace offering point-of-sale finance for various products, including electronics, home decor, jewelry, fashion, vehicles, and more. Paying in installments through the platform is an option for users to purchase products from partnered merchants. Today, In3's mobile app is available for Android and iOS users.
With a strong focus on social responsibility, Patrick van de Graaf, Jeroen Janssen, and Jos Verkleij founded the company in Eindhoven in 2016. With triple-digit growth during the first quarter of 2022, in3 has become the fastest-growing fintech company in the Netherlands.
EclecticIQ was founded in 2014 by Joep Gommers and Raymon van der Velde to provide cyber threat intelligence, analytics, and management services. The company provides artificial intelligence-powered cybersecurity solutions to government organizations and commercial enterprises.
The company's platform combines and interprets data from various sources, including open sources, commercial suppliers, and industry partnerships. Deduplication and pattern recognition, threat detection, real-time alerts, and integration with firewalls are among the key features.
During 2019, the company expanded its market segments from the government to large financial organizations, telecoms, and big tech companies, resulting in an 84% revenue increase. In line with recent information, EclecticIQ has disclosed a total funding amount of USD 52 million.
HeadFirst is an online staffing and recruitment platform founded in 2018 in Hoofddorp. In addition to business consultancy and matchmaking, the company provides managed services, contracting, and vendor management systems.
The services are tailored to the needs of large and mid-size businesses in both the private and public sectors. With HeadFirst Group's HR solutions, organizations can manage their workforces more effectively.
PlantLab, based in Den Bosch, was established in 2010 and has patented a unique vertical farming technology. The company makes sure that the products it grows have a long shelf-life by performing quality checks. The PlantLab plant can produce enough crops to feed 100,000 residents, each receiving 200 grams of vegetables daily, in an area equivalent to just two football fields.
The company's technology is already in use in its Amsterdam production facility and other locations in the Bahamas and Indianapolis. PlantLab’s Den Bosch location also boasts the world's largest vertical farming R&D center.
Property and casualty insurers can use FRISS Accelerator for Underwriting Risk Assessment to make real-time underwriting decisions during the policy lifecycle. As well as detecting fraud, assessing risks, and managing compliance, it automatically screens policies and prospects based on the insurer's risk appetite, allowing for a streamlined process and a healthy portfolio.
Underwriting rules can be automated, and decision-making can be standardized through FRISS's Underwriting solution. FRISS has implemented over 300 solutions in over 40 countries, tailored to each customer's needs. Founded in 2006 by Jeroen Morrenhof and Christian van Leeuwen, FRISS provides a score indicating the risk level for each quotation, policy, or claim.
Founded in 2019 by Raymon Pouwels, Doeke Boersma, and Donny van den Oever, Go Sharing offers sustainable shared mobility solutions. As part of its mission to minimize its visual impact on urban areas, the company aims to provide accessible, eco-friendly transportation. By scanning a QR code, users can easily find, book, and unlock electric two-wheeler-sharing vehicles through the company's mobile app. A variety of payment options are available on the platform, as well as an emphasis on eco-friendly rides. Upon completing the ride, users must park the vehicle in designated spots.
Based on the most recent funding details, the company has raised USD 84 million through various investment rounds.
After Pluriomics and Axiogenesis merged in 2017, Ncardia was created as a stem-cell-based drug discovery and development company. The company provides hiPSC (human induced pluripotent stem cells) based products and services. Ncardia is a privately held company with global operations based in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United States.
Human cellular assay systems developed by the company are highly accurate and can predict the safety and efficacy of potential drug candidates. The Ncardia corporation also manufactures large quantities of iPSC-derived cells on a large scale. Its product range includes hiPSC-derived cardiac cells, cardiac fibroblasts, neural cells such as pan-neuronal cells, astrocytes, and peripheral neurons, and ready-to-use assay plates known as cardiac plates.
More than 6,000 customers worldwide have trusted Channable since its founding in 2014 by Rob van Nuenen, Stefan Hospes, and Robert Kreuzer. Through selling, advertising, marketing, and managing solutions, the company assists e-commerce companies around the world in managing their online sales effectively. With Channable, online retailers, brands, and agencies can sell, advertize, and market their products globally with a simple, scalable, and intelligent solution for data feed management and PPC automation.
Google Shopping, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft Advertising are some of the marketplaces the startup connects online retailers and marketers with. Using Channable's solution, businesses can optimize e-commerce performance and boost sales with actionable insights.
Founded in 2016 by Krijn de Nood and Daan Luining, Meatable produces and supplies lab-cultured meat products. Thanks to its proprietary technology, Meatable utilizes pluripotent stem cells to manufacture cultured meat, eliminating the need for animal tissue.
Opti-ox is a proprietary technology developed by the company that enables the production of meat rapidly, sustainably, and without harming animals. The team at Meatable comprises experts with specialized knowledge in various fields, including molecular biology, chemistry, tissue engineering, bioprocess development, food safety, and food science.
In 2009, WeTransfer was established in Amsterdam by Rinke Visser and Ronald Hansto to provide an easy and convenient way to transfer large files worldwide. Today, the company offers a variety of creative productivity tools for professionals in the creative industry. WeTransfer is a cloud-based file transfer software tool that allows users to send up to 20 GB of large files.
Third-party platforms such as Chrome, Sketch, Slack, and Firefox are also supported for sharing URLs, documents, and files. Earlier this year, the company announced its partnership with Minima to enable users to send NFTs from mobile devices.
HousingAnywhere was founded in 2009 by Niels Van Deuren, a Dutch exchange student who faced difficulties finding accommodation abroad while subletting his room back home. In response to the global accommodation issues, the online marketplace provides a booking platform for accommodations catering to students, professionals, and expatriates.
Through the platform, users can search for and book rooms, communicate with landlords, and communicate with other users. Additionally, the platform provides landlords with features like booking systems and payment requests. Featuring over 60,000 available properties, the website receives 10 million visitors a year.
The Dutch startup ecosystem is thriving, and this can be attributed to various factors. For one, the country's strategic location and advanced seaports give it easy access to the European market, providing a significant advantage for businesses operating within the region. Further, the Netherlands is home to highly-regarded educational institutions that contribute to a progress-oriented environment.
Moreover, the government's supportive regulations and public-private partnerships have created an environment that fosters innovation and collaboration. These partnerships bring together the private sector, research universities, and government entities, resulting in the emergence of promising and successful startups.
As a result of these favorable conditions, the Dutch startup ecosystem has seen the emergence of numerous unicorns and soonicorns, securing its position in the global industry landscape. For more in-depth information regarding its position within the European startup scene, jump to our articles on the topic.