By Floris van der Laan
Consulate General of the Netherlands in San Francisco

Ever heard of the first slaughter-free hamburger that cost €250,000 to make and was funded by the co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin? The Dutch startup Mosa Meat did precisely that. Without genetic modification, Mosa Meat developed a way to “grow” meat naturally from cells. As a result, clean meat is produced in a sustainable and animal-friendly way. “We challenge ourselves daily to ensure our meat production process can scale to enormous volumes, and over performs on all consumer preferences,” says Mosa Meat’s CBO Tim van de Rijdt.

Being ranked fourth on the 2019 Global Innovation Index, the Netherlands is deemed a true innovation nation. Dutch academic startups, like Mosa Meat that started at Maastricht University, are continuously challenging the status quo. They are searching for pioneering innovations that can have a significant societal impact. The Holland in the Valley Academic Startup Program creates an opportunity for innovative startups to scale onto an global stage.

Dutch Innovations in Silicon Valley

This month the consulate general welcomes 10 academic startups for a tailor-made incubator program introducing them to the main stage of global innovation, Silicon Valley. The 10 startups are winners of the Netherlands Academic Startup Competition. They develop cell-based meat and artificial Intelligence. They also are innovators of medical devices and nanoparticle technology.  Funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, this program aims to further develop the entrepreneurial mindset of the winners and further encourage their business growth.

“As they say in Silicon Valley, scaling a startup is like surfing. You have to pick the right surfboard, paddle, catch the right wave, and then ride the right wave,” says Consul General Gerbert Kunst. “From surviving to thriving, that’s what we want to teach these startups in this program. By building a bridge between science and society, these startups use tech for good, finding innovative solutions for global societal challenges Think about medical devices, nanoparticle technology, artificial intelligence, and biotech. Dutch universities are all in the global top 200, and I’m proud to bring their innovations to Silicon Valley.”

During the first week in San Francisco, the Dutch startups will have a program led by the consulate general’s new startup liaison and Gigi Wang, managing partner of MG-team and industry fellow at the University of California in Berkeley. Some of the questions they will handle are: How can you grow your business in the US? What are the cultural differences with the Netherlands? How can you continue to be innovative? Where do you find funding?

Keeping focus is one of the biggest challenges for a startup, says VSPARTICLE’s CFO Vincent Laban. “There are so many opportunities, but we need to capitalize on one and then move forward to the next.”

Laban hopes that the Academic Startup Program will help him sharpen their future roadmap and bring him some interesting connections: “With a new division we want to focus on application development. There are many opportunities to apply the nanoparticles we make into products that can have a positive impact on our daily life. The most important focus areas are gas and liquid sensors, mainly for healthcare and environmental sensing. After that we see energy, catalysis, and space as interesting areas to apply our technology.”

During weeks two and three, each startup will embark on an immersion program at Focus Academy and 360 Lab, local incubators that partner with the consulate general.

Alumni Event

Are you an alumnus from a Dutch university who lives in the Bay Area? We’d like to invite you for the Holland in the Valley Alumni Event on September 19. In cooperation with the Vereniging van Universiteiten (VSNU), the Holland in the Valley Alumni Event seeks to bring alumnus together, strengthen Dutch-American ties, and jump-start innovation and talent in Silicon Valley. Mirjam van Praag, President of VU University in Amsterdam, will deliver the VSNU lecture. Register now, and join us at the “Urban Winery” Tank 18 in San Francisco.