While Amsterdam draws most of the attention in the Netherlands tech ecosystem, the not-too-distant region around Utrecht has its fair share of tech startups and investors, as our latest survey of locals shows, below.
Area ecosystem wranglers like StartupUtrecht, UtrechtInc, Holland Startup, Utrecht Community, and others bring together startups, scaleups, corporations, angels, VCs, local government, banks, and universities to build the local startup ecosystem. They also benefit from the formidable Dutch technology advocacy initiative StartupDelta and The Netherlands Business Agency, which promote the Netherlands more widely.
Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, with 350,000 inhabitants. Their offices and co-working spaces include Dotslash Utrecht, De Stadstuin, MindSpace and Tribes; as well as accelerator programs such as Startupbootcamp and Techleap.
Notable startups from the region include Distimo (acquired by AppAnnie), Unicorn GitLab, MoneyMonk, and StuComm. Also, there are newer ones like SnappCar, Blendle, Merus, Nibblr, United Wardrobe, Näpp, Lalaland, 2DAYSMOOD and Remind2Change.
Our respondents think the ecosystem is strong in sustainable energy, medical technology, food technology, life sciences, markets, deep technology, games, and media. However, they seem to think it is weaker in design, hardware, fintech, robotics, and agrotechnology.
Notable startups named by our respondents include Channable, Pepscope, Goin ‘Connect, Fundsup, Tover, Faqta, Sensorfact, SODAQ, Picnic, Neurolytics, De Clique, Solease, BikeFlip, Packaly, DiManEx, Trunkrs, DialogueTrainer, EatMyRide, CART-Tech , Prolira, among many, many others. It just shows that the region has a strong and growing ecosystem.
The investment scene is variously described as centered on software, cleantech, life sciences, biotechnology, organoids, 3D bioprinting, AI, and virtual reality / AR. One says: “Amsterdam is fine. Utrecht is a bit behind.” Another said: “The investor scene is focused on scalable and early-stage technology in healthcare, sustainability and education. [There are] a lot of local informal investors and VCs operating nationally.”
With the shift to remote work, many respondents think that people will “preferably move out of the city center to nearby towns” as there is “a lot of nature / space around”. That said, Utrecht is “a growing hub” and many “will stay in the city.” But fewer people will move, and remote work is there to stay. “It is also easy to work remotely in the Netherlands given its proximity to other large European cities, so it can attract new digital nomads,” thanks to the Utrecht’s central position in the center of the country and the attractiveness of the ecosystem. “