A stylish modern architecture, unique working spaces, comfortable lounge rooms, a fancy rooftop featuring a highly-rated restaurant: this is not a venue for summer vacation in Europe, but a centerpiece of the Dutch startup ecosystem – B. Amsterdam. B. Amsterdam was therefore the first stop of the joint niHUB – ChinaEU five-day exploration tour of the Dutch startup ecosystem, which took place from August 14th to 18th. During this fact-finding mission, Claudia Vernotti, Director of ChinaEU, and Lucas Rondez, CEO of niHUB, visited over ten incubators, joint office spaces, innovation centers and venture capital firms in Amsterdam, Zoetermeer, Rotterdam and Eindhoven, with the purpose of gaining a deep understanding of the Dutch startup ecosystem and exploring the possibility of bridging the Dutch startup ecosystem with China.
简约的现代感建筑、造型独特的联合办公空间、舒适的咖啡休憩室、别具一格的露台餐厅，这里不是欧洲夏日度假休闲的场所，而是荷兰创业生态系统的核心之一——B. Amsterdam。这也正是niHUB和ChinaEU 于8月14日至18日对荷兰创业生态圈进行联合考察的第一站。在为期五天的考察之旅中，ChinaEU主任Claudia Vernotti和niHUB总裁Lucas Rondez一起走访了位于阿姆斯特丹、祖特尔梅尔、鹿特丹和爱因霍温的十余家孵化器、联合办公空间、创新中心及风险投资公司，意在增进对荷兰创业生态圈的了解，探索联结荷兰与中国的创业生态系统的可能性。
The Netherlands counts a dozen of the world’s leading innovation centers where startups can make full use of their R&D facilities. During the visit, niHUB and ChinaEU were impressed by the Netherlands’ advanced infrastructure and technological support, open-minded corporate culture and vibrant entrepreneurial atmosphere as well as a strong government support. This environment has contributed to the formation of a solid Dutch startup ecosystem, making the Netherlands one of the most vibrant tech hubs in Europe.
Amsterdam and Rockstart are good examples of this vibrant startup scene. Established in 2014, B. Amsterdamstarted from providing co-working offices and event spaces to gradually develop into Europe’s largest startup ecosystem. Its 40,000 sqm space provides the best platform for startups, corporates and investors to connect and communicate with each other, thus forming an ideal resource community for entrepreneurs. B. Amsterdam also collaborates with Startup Amsterdam, a governmental agency, creating partnerships with more than 20 cities in Europe to help Dutch startups scale up all over the continent. Rockstart, a famous accelerator of Amsterdam, has incubated and invested hundreds of startups over the past seven years, with a focus on AI, digital health and internet and mobile technology. Rockstart was instrumental to many success stories, including 3DHUBS, Postcron and TeamScope.
Amsterdam和Rockstart就是很好的例子。B. Amsterdam于2014年成立，从提供联合办公和活动空间开始，逐步发展为欧洲最大的创客生态圈。其四万平方米的创业商业空间为初创公司、传统企业和投资者之间的对接提供了最好的平台，为创业者们打造了一个理想的资源社群。B. Amsterdam还与Startup Amsterdam这一阿姆斯特丹政府机构形成合力，和欧洲20多个城市建立起合作关系，帮助荷兰初创企业扩大规模、良性发展。阿姆斯特丹著名的创业加速器Rockstart，深耕于AI、数字健康及网络和移动技术领域，成立七年来已孵化并投资了上百家初创公司。其中不乏许多成功案例，包括3DHUBS、Postcron、TeamScope等在Rockstart的支持下发展成熟的创业公司。
The Dutch startup ecosystem also attaches great importance to internationalization, and few players have already put their eyes on China.
StartupBootCamp, one of the world’s leading incubators, is one of the drivers of European innovation. StartupBootCamp facilitates the healthy development of startups with its intense acceleration projects, considerable resources and high-quality mentors. StartupBootCamp has launched its first China-based incubation program in Chengdu, dedicated to digital health projects.
Startup Delta, established in 2014, aims at promoting the Dutch startup ecosystem as a single hub, breaking down barriers to improve access to capital, markets, knowledge and talents for Dutch startups. Neelie Kroes, Former Vice-President of the European Commission for the digital economy, and Constantijn van Oranje, the Dutch prince, subsequently served as Startup Delta Envoys to help Dutch startups go global. Constantijn van Oranje was personally engaged in Sino-Dutch exchange activities as Startup Delta Ambassador and paid a visit to China to understand the local startup ecosystem.
2014年成立的Startup Delta注重整合政府、企业、科技创新中心等多方资源，将荷兰创业生态系统连接起来形成网络，有效地为荷兰初创公司打破资本、市场、知识和人才的壁垒，帮助创业生态实现可持续性发展。Startup Delta先后在前欧委会副主席Neelie Kroes 和荷兰王子Constantijn van Oranje 的带领下，一步步推动荷兰创业公司走向全球。Constantijn van Oranje王子曾多次以 Startup Delta特使身份出席中荷企业交流论坛并到访中国，了解中荷创业生态。
Crosspring is well-known as an innovation factory with its incubation project in Zoetermeer, few kilometers away from The Hague. Through its financial support and broad network of resources, it attracts a big number of startups, including among others mobile application ByCycling, the most popular computer football game of the Netherlands GameBasics, RosterBuster – the mobile application designed for aerospace crew, and global startup online platform uGlobally. Crosspring is particularly interested in the Chinese market. Maurice Beckand Verwee, Founder of Crosspring, believes that the next wave of innovation is no longer propelled by Western countries. European startups shall seize the opportunity and “look East”!
祖特尔梅尔地区的知名创新工厂Crosspring以其精准的孵化项目、有力的资金支持和强大的网络资源优势吸引到很多颇具前景的创业公司，包括自行车手机应用ByCycling、荷兰最受欢迎的足球游戏GameBasics、专门为航空机组人员研发的手机应用RosterBuster和全球初创企业在线平台uGlobally等等。Crosspring十分关注中国市场。 Crosspring的创始人Maurice Beckand Verwee说，新一轮创新大潮的推动者不再是西方发达国家，欧洲初创公司要把握时机，及时”看向东方”！
Venture capital firms Prime Ventures, the oldest VC in the Benelux, and HENQ Invest, which invests in B2B cloud computing software companies, have also shown strong interest in the Chinese market. They hope to learn more about opportunities in China through field trips, and even plan to visit China next year.
Dennis Tan (Dashmote), Lucas Rondez (niHUB) and Claudia Vernotti (ChinaEU) at WeWork
Tech entrepreneurs are also eager to find opportunities in China. Amongst them is Dennis Tan, a Dutch serial entrepreneur. Tan’s first company was set up at the age of 15. Now he is managing two technology companies: AI and face recognition technology company Dashmote and social media marketing company Meter. He is about to explore the Chinese market.
Despite the keen interest and intense curiosity about China, Dutch companies and investors have limited knowledge about opportunities offered by the Chinese market, which hamper further actions. Most players and in particular VCs, who are by nature critical and need to control their investments risks, see China as a country full of risks for foreign players. In the West, people trust news coverage from FT, WSJ, NYT, etc. which tend to highlight the failure stories of foreign companies who tried to adventure to China. The visits to CIC Rotterdam, Erasmus Innovation Center, STARTUP/eindhoven, HighTech XXL, Eindhoven High Tech Campus also confirm this general view of China as a risky market for foreign companies.
尽管荷兰的企业和投资者对中国有着强烈的兴趣和好奇心，但由于缺乏对中国市场存在的机遇的了解，他们裹足不前。其实这也是欧洲的一个普遍现象。欧洲创业生态系统中的人们，特别是风险投资者，以控制投资风险为本，自然将中国视为外国投资者的风险所在。而《金融时报》，《华尔街日报》，《纽约时报》等新闻媒体报导的在华外国公司的失败案例更让他们对中国市场的风险性深信不疑。考察后期对CIC Rotterdam, Erasmus Innovation Center, STARTUP/eindhoven, HighTech XXL，Eindhoven High Tech Campus多家知名孵化器和创新基地的走访也印证了这一观点。
Claudia and Lucas share the view that the primary task and the best way to break this knowledge deficit is to provide to European companies and investors concrete examples of opportunities existing in the Chinese market: as an emerging innovative economy, China is an important source for project financing, business cooperation, scale-up opportunities and other market resources; at the same time, China’s dynamic startup ecosystem also attracts numerous VCs from all over the world. ChinaEU and niHUB have reached a strategic partnership, aimed at employing their joint expertise and extensive network to help European startups open up to China by sharing on-the-ground information on the opportunities there, by organizing workshops, business matchmaking activities, field trips, etc. In parallel, ChinaEU is also leading the Startup Europe China Network platform, contributing to the objectives of the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative, to help European companies access information on the Chinese startup ecosystem and get access to the local network. Startup Europe China Network will regularly organize field visits, systematic training programs and build a knowledge-sharing network to support European startups soft land to China.
Claudia和Lucas均表示，要打破这一僵局，目前的首要任务是要向欧洲企业和投资者展示中国市场的巨大机遇： 作为世界新兴创新经济体，中国一方面为创业企业提供了项目融资、商业合作、企业扩张等各种市场资源，另一方面其生机勃勃的创业生态圈也对全球风险投资者来说极具吸引力。ChinaEU和niHUB已达成战略合作伙伴关系，双方将共同努力，利用自己的专有知识和丰富的网络资源，通过组织专业讲座、商务洽谈、资源对接等活动，为欧洲的创业企业提供打开中国大门的正确钥匙。同时ChinaEU也希望带领Startup Europe China Network平台，通过定期组织实地考察活动、系统性培训项目以及构建知识共享网络，帮助欧洲企业正确地认识中国市场、了解真实的竞争环境，学习如何在中国获得可持续性发展；Startup Europe China Network将在实现欧委会创业欧洲倡议目标的同时，为欧洲创业企业软着陆中国市场提供实实在在的支持。
ChinaEU is a business-led International Association aimed at intensifying joint research, business cooperation and mutual investments in Internet, Telecom and Hi-tech between China and Europe. ChinaEU provides a platform for constructive dialogue among industry leaders and top-level representatives of European Institutions and the Chinese Government.
niHUB is an innovation center & hub offering investment and operational assistance to entrepreneurs looking to startup, scale, and succeed in the Chinese market. Through vast networks, localization, and market expertise niHUB gives foreign entrepreneurs and startups the opportunity to innovate in China.