Netherlands enlists Neelie Kroes to turn Amsterdam into a startup hotspot

The former European commissioner for the digital agenda is now the Netherlands' startup cheerleader in chief.

Neelie Kroes may have finished her term as European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda last month, but she's by no means planning on retiring just yet.

On Monday, Henk Kamp, the Netherlands' minister of economic affairs, announced that the Dutch politician has signed up for a mission to turn the Netherlands into the European hotspot for innovative startups from abroad.

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According to Kamp, "The Netherlands is one of the most innovative countries in the world, with a rapidly increasing amount of successful startups. However, this ambition has to expand. We want to attract more startups from other countries and have more Dutch companies develop into larger companies with international appeal.

"With her broad experience and her charisma, Neelie Kroes is the perfect person to boost and support this international ambition to grow. Together with Kroes, the parliament will endeavour to give a new generation of startups the opportunity to develop their talent, to innovate and create jobs in the Netherlands. For the next year and a half, Kroes will be the special ambassador - special envoy - for startups."

Major collaboration

The project, supervised by Kroes, will be called StartupDelta. It's a nod to the Dutch Delta Works, a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea, which has been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

"Within StartupDelta, governments, knowledge institutions, startups, financers and companies all collaborate. The ministry of economic affairs will provide the preconditions to be able to start and grow rapidly: funding, appropriate rules and new admission regulations for ambitions start-ups from outside of Europe. Established companies can get affiliated with StartupDelta, to help start-ups grow. StartupDelta will join forces with existing start-up hubs in the Netherlands, such as the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven and Knowledge ParkTwente, and with leading international hubs," Kamp said.

Amsterdam as business card

The special envoy and her team will be located in Amsterdam. According to Kamp, the Dutch capital was chosen because of its international reputation, strong brand, and appeal to young people and innovative companies. Combined with the excellent physical and digital infrastructure, Amsterdam is the perfect business card for StartupDelta, the minister said.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands has been building its startup credentials. In October alone, three Dutch startups successfully managed to raise funds: article-gathering website Blendle received $3.8m in investment, messaging app Nimbuzz sold a 70 percent stake in the business for $175m, and share app Peerby landed funding of €1.7m.

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