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Yes, there's a Dutch tech scene outside of Amsterdam…especially this May Written by Johann Quassowski on 23. April 2012

If you think Amsterdam is the only city you ever needed to visit in the Netherlands, techies, think again. Coming up in the very south of the Netherlands is not just one, but two entrepreneurship events, right after another (with a bit of “overlap”), at the end of May. The first is May 21-27. And the second May 25-27.

First up is Maastricht Week of Entrepreneurship ’12

Check out this speaker line-up for the 4th edition of the Maastricht Week

… and those are only the Berlin-based entrepreneurs! To add, there’s Hanse Ventures’s Sarik Weber bringing a little “Hamburg” and Fabian Neuen ( bringing some Munich into the mix. There will also be a number of (social) entrepreneurs from across the world, some Netherlands-based including “local hero” Hans Balmaekers who is starting a company here in Maastricht. (Several other Maastricht-based entrepreneurs will also be in attendance, including myself, of course, as well!)
If you want to know more about this year’s MeWeek, check out the following. The theme this year is “Change makers”…

(As you can see, the organising team, consisting of current students and recent graduates of Maastricht University students (who take their event promotion quite seriously!)

Second in line is 3DS Maastricht 2012

Next up is the second 3DS in Maastricht! This one is aimed at entrepreneurs in the wider area, from approximately Eindhoven to Luxembourg, and from Brussels to Düsseldorf, which could likely increase your chance for a successful application! (I know applicants who have applied from Paris and Leipzig, for instance)
Here’s what you need to know about this one:

  • 40 Participants (half developers, half “others”)
  • Takes place from May 25th till 27th, 10PM at Centré Ceramique in Maastricht
  • Apply until April 22nd
  • At least three local investors will listen to and judge the pitches, including the local “development fund” LIOF (something like the KfW in Germany)
  • Last years’ winner cleanPCusb that actually found an investor at the event is still up- and running

And what should you know about Euregio Maas-Rhine entrepreneurs?

If you were to come to the Maastricht region some other time than this end of May, what would you find? (In terms of entrepreneurship) Besides the already mentioned cleanPCusb, there is also a considerably more famous former 3DS winner, 40km away in Aachen: car sharing platform Tamyca (that’s an acronoym of sorts for “take my car” – clever, right?). They recently got in a legal battle with rental giant SIXT (the company with the funny provactive advertisements) over advertising with price comparisons.
Inevitably, the Maastricht area also has its own Groupon-clone, of course. Founded by former students from the hotel school, has at least one minor “edge” over most of the other clones – and even the original itself: You can read all their offers in English, as well as Dutch, for instance.

Well aside from sandboxers, tulips, and video CVs…

Even though there are no local events from the organization – at least not that I’m aware of – there are a couple of quite active Sandboxers from Maastricht University, alumni as well as current students. One of them is working as CMO of potentially the most “disruptive” tech venture I have seen coming from out of the area yet (their offices are located further up north, in the Dutch entrepeneurial capital Amsterdam though, as far as I know):, which could “revolutionize” not only how tulips are delivered to customers. (By the way: If you happen to be a woman and into tech, in particular “mobile,” and ideally speak a decent bit of Dutch, they are currently looking for a woman, as an 8th co-founder in their so far all-male team!)
If you are rather on the lookout for such a co-founder yourself, or just another employee that fits into your company really well, you might want to give local company CVIVE a try. CVIVE lets applicants create a “video CV” of themselves, to improve the applicant scanning process beyond the usual document- and telephone-interview based approaches.

There’s hard core technology with an emphasis on material science, medicine, and biotech

Well, Fray is actually the idea around here that impressed me the most – but only in the “ordinary” IT part of tech. The real “specialty” of the area is hard core technology in connection with material science, life science or medicine, biotech and so on. There we are talking about several multi-million dollar companies in the area already, which are mostly either spin-offs of the large multinational companies in the area, or somehow profiting from the cluster in this sector that exists here.
North of Maastricht in Sittard-Geleen, right on the border to Germany, we have the (very creatively named) Chemelot campus. Dutch material- and lifescience global player DSM (22,000 employees in 46 countries) is playing the corporate lead role, and a production site of the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (or simply short SABIC), is nearby as a supplier for industrial production.
Further down southeast, on the German side of the border, you have Technologie Park Herzogenrath. They recently got a boost in financing options by the creation of the “Seedfonds II” that frequently invests there (but also in other ventures around Aachen).
Another corporate with a significant presence in the region is Medtronic, which is – according to an unverified statement on Wikipedia – the word’s largest medical technology company. If you have a pacemaker for your heart one day, it is fairly likely that they have something to do with the manufacturing or design of the product. With three sites in Limburg, one of them a large R&D site in Maastricht with 220 employees, and the others in Kerkrade and Heerlen, they also add to the expertise in the region.

With this environment, what comes out of it in terms of related startups?

Good question! Unfortunately, this kind of technology is not really my core expertise – I’m not a chemist, biologist, doctor, or engineer and therefore I do not really focus on following this (so far) – but I can give you two interesting examples:
Xilloc Medical produces “patient specific implants”. In ordinary business language, you could say that they offer “customization” and “personalisation” where it matters the most – for your health. SceltaCeuticals, active under the brand Murill, produces and sells food ingredients that might sound a bit “unappetizing” at first: fungus, but not exactly in ordinary mushroom “form“… and (unlike some other products that are frequently criticised by the Verbraucherzentralen) they actually really are good for your health (backed up by scientific research). At the moment, their products arguably also still seem somewhat expensive, but that hopefully will still improve with scale.
For events this week, check out: This Week in the Village