Amsterdam, 29 January 2015. 2014 has been a breakthrough year for the Dutch tech start-up ecosystem. Government has stepped up its game, accelerators and incubators are thriving and more capital than ever is flowing towards start-ups. Active early-stage investor SanomaVentures summarises its year in the SanomaVentures 2014 infographic.
Government stepping up support
The importance of start-ups for the economic development has been acknowledged by the Dutch Government, which has taken concrete action to create a more attractive environment for entrepreneurs. Criteria for temporary VISA have been eased for start-up teams and budget for government loans or guarantees for venture capital funds and innovative starters has been widened. Special envoy Neelie Kroes has launched the StartupDelta programme, with the mission to make The Netherlands one of the leading start-up hubs in Europe. As part of this initiative, the City of Amsterdam has announced an investment of €5.2 million to support start-ups and increase access to working spaces, talent and capital.
Accelerators and incubators thriving
University incubators and commercial accelerators have expanded their activities and new programs are emerging. Utrecht Inc. ranked as the world’s second fastest growing ‘knowledge based incubator’ and Amsterdam’s ACE VentureLab ranked third as best new academic incubator. Leading European accelerator StartupBootcamp expanded their presence in The Netherlands with an E-commerce program in Amsterdam and a High-Tech program in Eindhoven.
SanomaVentures crossing borders
In 2014, SanomaVentures received over 350 investment requests, talked to 124 companies and negotiated with 28 entrepreneurs, which ultimately resulted in 4 new investments. Besides these new investments SanomaVentures executed 6 follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies, of which 2 alongside international VC’s. The 14 companies in SanomaVentures’ portfolio realised an average revenue growth of 90% in 2014 and currently offer employment to over 220 people. Many portfolio companies expanded internationally; SanomaVentures itself opened a second investment office in Helsinki, Finland.
European venture capital investment last year reached its highest level since the dot-com boom according to data provider Dow Jones VentureSource. The Netherlands has not been an exception to this trend. According to a list of investment transactions compiled by StartupJuncture, Dutch tech start-ups raised a record €500 million in 2014. Adyen was the first Dutch start-up to reach the so-called unicorn status, raising €200 million at a valuation of $1.5 billion. More Dutch start-ups than ever raised series A, B or C financing rounds, such as Peerby, Blendle, 3Dhubs, CataWiki, ElasticSearch or Takeaway.com. The larger, later-stage financing rounds were mostly coming from international investors, who seem to have discovered The Netherlands as fertile grounds this year. Also more Dutch seed and early-stage investors have entered the market. SanomaVentures, active since 2012, participated last year in seven of the fifty-five listed deals between €0.1 million and €5 million funding.