Our 2020 in review: highlights

Undoubtedly, 2020 was a year of uncertainty and volatility for many, including the Dutch tech ecosystem. Startups and scaleups have been exposed to a lot of challenges and stress of an imminent economic recession. Despite bringing a lot of difficulties, 2020 was also a year of change, innovation, and mutual support. The tech ecosystem called for massive reinforcement and financial support. For this reason, we at shifted our focus towards helping startups and scaleups survive the COVID-19 crisis. Through our programmes and initiatives, we did our best to alleviate the economic damage the pandemic has caused to businesses as well as provide them with the necessary resources to propel their solutions forward regardless of the circumstances. We’ll start off with some general company-wide highlights:

30 more talents have joined 🚀

Our team has grown by 60%, as 30 new talents have joined in 2020! 


As to the core project achievements in 2020, we’ve sectioned and summarised them per each of our 5 domains for a clearer overview:

Capital: Key results 💸

Financially, the past year has been particularly challenging for the startup ecosystem. This is why our Capital team, headed by Maurice van Tilburg, has vastly focused on supporting the tech ecosystem to stay afloat by ensuring crisis funding. More specifically we achieved the following results:

  1. We created a €300M fund - the Corona Bridging Loan (COL) - together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Regional Development Organisations and InvestNL to help startups survive through the COVID-19 crisis. 
  2. 700 out of 2,500 businesses that have requested funding through the COL portal to date have received financial support.
  3. We provided working recommendations for setting up the Dutch Future Fund and the DeepTech fund, aimed to strengthen the Dutch financing landscape.
  4. We brought together top investors and keynote speakers, such as Larry Fink, Rebecca Henderson, Pär-Jörgen Pärson, and others, to prompt active discussion around mobilising climate investments as part of our LP/GP Investor Summit. As a result of this event, a task force consisting of international VCs and LPs has been created to increase collaboration and co-investments in Europe.

Markets: Key results 🌍

Scaling up businesses and expanding to new markets was extra difficult in 2020. For this reason, our Markets team, led by Wibe van de Vijver, has been working extra hard to support the Dutch scaleups’ growth ambitions through new programmes and initiatives. 

  1. In the first weeks of 2020, we organised CES Vegas to prepare startups for international expansion and connect them with important stakeholders. As part of this event, Hydraloop - a Dutch-based company that provides in-house greywater recycling system - has gained worldwide recognition by winning four awards, including "CES BEST of the BEST”. 
  2. 98 startups were successfully matched with corporate support services through the  Corona Startup Support Portal that we’ve set up during the initial months of the pandemic. The portal features all the information you need to be able to apply for COVID-19 support as a startup.
  3. 18 companies have been supported with their expansion to Germany through our  German Market Entry Program.
  4. More than 200 entrepreneurs took part in the Scaleup Global Tour – a week-long digital event of interactive workshop sessions with high-profile speakers, designed to help entrepreneurs with entering international markets. The event was highly rated - 8.3 (out of 10) was the average satisfaction score of the participants. The variety of interactive workshops led to multiple introductions in different international markets in collaboration with the Startup Liaisons of the ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
  5. To make market expansion for Dutch scaleups easier, we launched the Go Global website in November 2020. This portal represents a one-stop-shop for all contacts and resources on how to expand your business to the US, Singapore, Germany, France, the UK.
  6. 246 people have downloaded our Market Expansion Report: Energy Edition, which provides an overview of the Dutch energy ecosystem and of the ongoing energy transition efforts on both global & local scales.

Talent: Key Results 👔

How do you hire and retain the best talent during a pandemic? Our Talent team, led by Jurriaan Graaff & Marloes Mantel, have dedicated their efforts to educate company leaders and HR on how to best handle the hiring, retaining, and laying off processes of personnel during COVID-19. 

1) More than 50.000 people have engaged with our People & Culture Scaleup Guide in 2020. Through this resource we looked to provide support for businesses and talent affected by COVID-19 by collecting and sharing information on relevant people and culture-related topics, whether that was the NOW-scheme, layoffs and redundancies, or the working from home transition. We gathered the insights of talent experts from all over the industry and collated them into a helpful guide on how to address leadership, culture and talent within startups. 

2) In collaboration with and CBRE, we’ve launched The Startup Employment Report 2020, which provides a detailed overview of the role startups and scaleups play in each Dutch province’s growth as well as the impact COVID-19 had on the startup job market.

3) We’ve built a reskilling & upskilling community of tech educators and connected them to NL Leert Door: We’ve gathered around 12 educational institutions to join us for quarterly round table sessions where we discuss what’s needed to get more recognition for them as private educators.

4) To stimulate and simplify the process of scouting for best tech talents, we’ve started setting up the foundation for the Careers page which will be launched in 2021.


Technology: Key Results ⚙️

In 2020, our Technology team, headed by Anne Strobos, focused heavily on building bridges between universities and the ecosystem, so that more groundbreaking technologies would make their way out of universities and into startups. Throughout the past year, the team also played a major role in addressing the importance of startups and scaleups in large technology coalitions, such as the Artificial Intelligence Coalition and the Quantum Technology Coalition.

We are proud to have announced the 10 winners of the Academic Startup Competition 2020, namely: Bimini Biotech, DeNoize, Digi.Bio, IamFluidics,  Kaminari Medical, Lusoco, NC Biomatrix, Taylor, uCrowds, VanBoven.  


Rise programme: Key Results ↗️

2020 has been a busy year for the Rise team too. Our programme managers, led by Tjarda Voorneman, have successfully rolled out three Rise batches:

  • The COVID-19 Batch has been joined by 8 selected companies, who received support in accelerating their expansion and time to market. The programme provided assistance through our extensive network as well as insightful (online) sessions with leading experts.
  • The Batch #1 of Rise has been rolled out with 10 selected participants, followed up by
  • Batch #2, where 11 companies have been chosen to join the programme, aimed to support the emergence and development of world champions in the technology sector to become less dependent on technological solutions from other countries and to create a climate in which two unicorns per year can 'rise' by 2023. 

Plus, we are happy to share our participants’ impressions of our last batch of 2020 - Batch #2:

  • 7.6 (out of 10) is the average rating across all sessions;
  • 8.2 (out of 10) is the average rating of 1:1s (7 different experts used);
  • 7.9 (out of 10) is the overall Rating of Connection Day;
  • 7.9 (out of 10) is the NPS score;
  • And lastly, the overall programme rating was 8.2 (out of 10).

Join Rise, an exclusive scaling programme for serious tech players. Your opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs and share learnings. Learn more about the programme.

We’ve improved our online presence 💻

As our focus areas and number of projects have been consistently growing, we saw the need for a website upgrade to match our ambitions. In November 2020, we’ve successfully rolled out a new website that looks sleeker, plus is more functional and user-friendly. 

The audience seems to agree, as our page views have increased by 27% since November 2020, compared to the September 2020 data.

Also, we are proud of our media partnerships with TNW,, Sifted, and Sprout in 2020. Here is an overview of all the media coverage:


We grew our social media following 📱

In 2020, we’ve massively grown our social media following compared to 2019. Here are some key stats:

  • We got a 90% increase in followers on LinkedIn;
  • We got a 66% increase in followers on Instagram;

In terms of the resources we’ve published the past year, Flattening the climate curve: Startup Report 2020 was the most downloaded report in 2020.

What's next? 💭

While we are proud of the results we’ve achieved in 2020, we are at the beginning of our journey. In 2021, we need to make clever choices to facilitate a balanced and strong ecosystem that allows us to support entrepreneurs with the best ideas to accelerate and grow. With data to guide us, we must continue to connect the ecosystem, building bridges between startups and investors, between universities and businesses, between industry leaders and government, to target our weakest areas and accelerate our progress.

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