Start-up week bursting with ideas

The Netherlands was the 'place to be' for start-ups, companies, knowledge institutes and investors from all over the world in the last week of September 2017. They exchanged knowledge and ideas, made deals and contacts during keynotes, workshops, one-to-one meetings and countless other events spread across the country.

‘There was a tremendous buzz and lots of energy. I saw loads of people meeting up who would never normally get the chance to talk, which means we met our key objective,’ says Bart Leurs, Chief Digital Transformation Officer. As part of its goal to promote and support innovation and start-ups, Rabobank played a prominent role at the three theme events: Startup Fest Europe, Amsterdam Capital Week and Cyber Security Week.

‘We’re doing this because we want to stimulate start-ups and SMEs,’ says Bart Leurs. 'We want to help them grow and scale-up. Start-ups have amazing ideas, but generally don’t have the network and knowledge they need to start a business. That’s something Rabobank does have and we’re happy to share our resources.’ Working with key Dutch companies Rabobank co-sponsored the start-up week.

Here’s just some of the activities the bank was involved in.

Capital Fest

On Wednesday, the Capital Fest matchmaking event was held in Amsterdam’s former stock exchange building, the Beurs van Berlage. Start-ups and investors had the opportunity to get to know each other and make deals. Some start-ups presented unusual ideas like an edible aircraft which can drop emergency supplies into disaster areas, a game which can map the brain, and soundwaves which convert heat into cold. The range of inspiring speakers included Werner Vogel from Amazon, Jack Ma from Alibaba (via a film stream) and Boyan Slat from Ocean Cleanup.

Fintech Vortex

Martin de Vries, Information Security Officer at Rabobank, gave a workshop entitled Secure Innovation at the Fintech Vortex. He talked about how the bank tackles cyber security challenges in order to raise awareness and share knowledge with start-ups about innovating securely. Rabobank has developed a scan to improve online security for the start-ups it works with through an accelerator programme.

Blockchain Event

Another historic building was the location for the Blockchain Event. In the 13th century Hall of the Knights in The Hague, representatives from business, start-ups, banks and academia sat together at roundtables. Their quest was to solve a problem using the opportunities offered by block chain technology. Following the event, they will work together to turn the idea into reality. Two of Rabobank’s best blockchain specialists - Djuri Baars and Mischa Vos - attended.

Capital Tour XXL

During the Capital Tour XXL groups of 10 start-up entrepreneurs cycled through Amsterdam to visit potential investors. This gave them the opportunity to put all their questions about funding and find out what selection criteria are important to investors. Rabobank Amsterdam was the main sponsor of the tour.

'The start-up week acts as a fly wheel for innovative entrepreneurs who are just starting out,' says Mr Leurs. 'It gives them confidence to take their next step in business. Rabobank is happy to support them with access to knowledge, networks and capital.'