What does Rabobank do for start-ups?

Support for fresh new plans and innovations

An innovative idea can be the driving force behind the economy or give an impulse to job creation. This is why Rabobank supports starting entrepreneurs by providing access to knowledge, funding and networks. The bank also regularly draws inspiration from the fresh new ideas introduced by these entrepreneurs to help shape the future of the banking industry.

Customer needs and wishes are changing at a whirlwind pace. This demands continuous innovation in terms of products and services. Rabobank wants to be a leader in the innovation of its services. Of course, the bank ensures there is plenty of room for innovation within its own organisation. But the bank also believes that it is important to track and encourage creative developments and trends outside the bank. Rabobank does so in a number of ways.

Rabobank Frontier Ventures

Rabobank has an investment fund dedicated to young and innovative companies: Rabo Frontier Ventures (RFV). This fund makes 60 million euros available for emerging FinTech and Food & Agri technology. Ambitious start-ups that have successfully pitched their plans to RFV receive more than just the capital they need to continue growing. They also get access to knowledge, expertise, and the sizeable Rabobank network. There are various criteria that determine which businesses are candidates for support: they must have innovative ideas in the field of FinTech and Food & Agri, solve a clear problem faced by (potential) customers, and be able to contribute to a new banking model.

FinTech is the collective term for technology-driven innovations in the financial sector. Innovations in this field are emerging quickly: research shows that global investments in FinTech have multiplied rapidly: from less than 4 billion dollars in 2013 to 31 billion in 2017.

The Rabobank Innovation fund

Start-ups typically find it difficult to get approved for a loan in their earliest stages, because they’re unable to show proven results and have insufficient cash flow at the time. These companies can turn to the Rabobank Innovation fund, on the condition that they focus on the Circular Economy, Food, Renewables and/or Vitality domain. The fund can grant € 20 million in subordinated loans (AIL); which is enough to boost hundreds of young companies every year. This involves loans between € 25,000 and € 150,000, for which no collateral is required and no repayments must be made in the first two years.

Rabo Food and Agri Innovation fund

Investing in promising Food & Agri start-ups in Western Europe and the United States, especially in businesses that use their innovative products and services to contribute to global food security - in line with Rabobank’s Banking for Food strategy. This is the mission of the Rabo Food & Agri Innovation fund. Investments made by this fund are focused on long-term impact and consist of more than just financial support: they also involve full access to Rabobank’s Food & Agri experts and networks.


Rabobank has partnered up with Startupbootcamp. This accelerator programme gives start-ups from various domains, including FinTech & CyberSecurity, access to an international network of relevant partners, investors, and mentors, allowing them to go through significant development in just a couple of months. Approximately 30 experienced and passionate Rabobank mentors help coach start-ups in this programme, providing them with advice on such matters as finance, marketing and strategic choices. Vice versa, the start-ups share their knowledge of the latest innovations and technologies that can help improve banking services and processes.

An impression of Startupbootcamp FinTech & CyberSecurity 2017

Holland FinTech

Rabobank is a member of an independent platform that aims to accelerate technological innovation in the Dutch and European financial sector: Holland FinTech. The ultimate goal: economic empowerment and financial inclusion for everyone in the world. The platform strives to achieve this by bringing together financial institutions, technology companies and investors. Since the platform was launched in October 2014, more than 340 organisations have already registered as members, ranging from start-ups to established institutions.

Rabo Sustainable Innovation Award

In the Netherlands, Rabobank promotes innovative start-ups through various awards. The prestigious Rabo Sustainable Innovation Award, the successor of the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award, is one of them. The winners of the award are invariably entrepreneurs who want to introduce society to feasible, profitable innovations that are in their final stage of development and will have a positive impact on society. The Rabo Sustainable Innovation Award is our way of providing a platform to these pioneers and contributing to success of their business.

Herman Wijffels is a prominent economist and former Rabobank CEO. When he stepped down as Chairman, Wijffels was allowed to determine the focus of a newly established Rabobank fund. He chose to promote innovation and sustainable entrepreneurship. To this end, the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award was instituted in 2002, which was renamed the Rabo Sustainable Innovation Award in 2017 and has become the most important innovation award in the Netherlands.

Partnership with StartupDelta

The Netherlands should be the best country in Europe to start, grow, and internationalise a business. That is what StartupDelta believes, and to help create an ideal ecosystem for start-ups, the organisation aims to join the forces of relevant ministries, businesses, and other organisations. Rabobank is corporate partner of this public-private partnership. Within StartupDelta, we promote innovation and entrepreneurship by providing start-ups with access to funding, knowledge, and our networks. Vice versa, working together with start-ups gives us access to new technologies and business models that benefit both the bank and our customers.

Ikgastarten.nl platform

Rabobank came up with and currently manages the popular website Ikgastarten.nl. With this online platform, the bank aims to reach both start-up entrepreneurs and people who are still employed at a company, but are considering starting their own business. All these (near-) start-up entrepreneurs have questions about what it means to be an entrepreneur, ranging from setting up a business plan, attracting funds and setting hourly rates. Ikgastarten.nl has more than 4,100 articles to offer, full of useful information and tips. With more than 100,000 unique visitors per month, the platform is the largest repository of advice for starting entrepreneurs in the Netherlands.

Starter programmes

Local Rabobanks organise a large number of meetings and programmes for starting entrepreneurs, from start-up walk-in sessions to starter cafés and starter reunions. Some of these initiatives are targeted at specific groups, such as young farmers who want to take over their father’s business, for example. For these people, Rabobank introduced the Rabo Successor Horizon: a programme that offers future successors the opportunity to develop personally and professionally in the years leading up to the takeover. So that when the big day arrives, they’ll be fully prepared.

Moonshot Campaign

All around the world, Rabobank employees dream of their own start-ups. Many of them also have specific ideas as to how the bank can improve its services and revenue models. The Moonshot Campaign gives them the opportunity to turn these ideas into reality. For this Rabobank initiative, dozens of teams go head to head in a search for the best innovative business case. In 2018, 150 entries, a 20-team longlist and a 10-team shortlist ultimately yielded 3 winners. They were given 16 weeks’ worth of leave from their jobs and a budget, allowing them to develop their idea in the Moonshot accelerator programme.

'Moonshot' refers to the mission to make the seemingly impossible possible. More specifically, it refers to the famous ‘Moon Shot Speech’ delivered by President Kennedy in 1962, in which he emphasised the importance of this endeavour and shared his dream of putting a man on the moon within ten years. That giant leap for mankind became reality, a technological miracle.

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