The Netherlands can surpass Silicon Valley

Says Dutch startup ambassador Prince Constantin, the younger brother of King William-Alexander.

Even though voted having the best startup climate in Europe in the EU Startup Nation Scoreboard (, The Netherlands is not yet the Silicon Valley of Europe. A wide availability of venture capital would bring this goals closer.

The Netherlands has perhaps even more potential than Silicon Valley, says the prince. The facilities here are much better. With a group of entrepreneurs, he will visit Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle. He wants to know from the CEO’s of these internet giants what Dutch software companies can add to the development of artificial intelligence.

You have a temporary mandate, twice eighteen months

‘Yes, that is very wise. You want a small government role. The technological ecosystem has to strengthen itself. Now, 70-80% of all venture capital for startups originates directly or indirectly from the government. That percentages should be much lower. We need to have venture capitalists that invest from small to large, who are participating throughout the whole cycle of a startup.

Are the companies the reason that so little venture capital becomes available?

Example: ‘Boyan Slat comes up with the idea of The Ocean Cleanup, raises capital, creates buzz and starts building. We can learn from that’

‘Venture-capital funds invest in companies that want to grow fast. In The Netherlands that means that you have to work on a international level. Our position still too often is: we want to make a beautiful product. Because scaling is capital intensive.  I think that Boyan Slat is a great example with his project Ocean Cleanup. He invents a concept, raises capital, creates a buzz and starts building. We can learn from that.’

Are we more a country of patents?

‘For now, that seems indeed the case. [The Netherlands is the country with the second highest number of patent applications in Europe, red.]. A partent, however, does not make a company. An entrepreneur does that and we do not have enough of those. We are now setting up mentor networks for Dutch entrepreneurs to share knowledge to expand a company. In Seoel, Silicon Valley and in Seattle.’

What has to be the Dutch ambition?

‘To create a system that sustains itself/ This works in Silicon Valley, it is self-replicating. The Netherlands has about the same size as Silicon Valley, but has a much better infrastructure and is much better positioned geographically. The facilities here are also much better: you can go to the doctor at a reasonable cost, there is good housing and fantastic schools. It should be easy to create the best startup system in the world here. Somebody in the US said: “Nobody remembers the second guy crossing the ocean.” We therefore have to be number 1. We are the best internet-hub in the world, we are international, innovative, flexible and pragmatic.’

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