Bringing the global startup ecosystem together

The aim of TNW StartupCity Summit was for city representatives to exchange best practices, get inspired, make connections, collaborate and discuss the current and future role of local governments in rapidly developing startup ecosystems. Bringing together about 65 startup city representatives from across the globe was essential to meet the demands of startups and scale-ups, which are typically focused on local ecosystems, facilities and city-to-city expansion. The event took place on 18 and 19 May 2017.

On 18 May 2017, StartupAmsterdam officially welcomed the participants to the Dutch capital. We invited them on a boat tour around the canals, where the participants had the chance to meet and connect with one another – all while taking in some of the best views that Amsterdam has to offer. We continued the evening at Hotel Zoku, which was named by Forbes as one of the 25 coolest hotels of the world. Here we were welcomed by the co-founder of Zoku, Marc Jongerius. Before opening the informal reception on the hotel's top floor, he explained the concept of Zoku – a hybrid between a home and work space in the creative capitals of the world.

An exciting programme

On 19 May, TNW StartupCity Summit officially kicked off, with the participants attending TNW Conference in the morning. Boasting over 12,000 guests a day, the 12th edition of the event was massive – easily its biggest edition so far. Around lunch time, the 65 participants of TNW StartupCity Summit gathered in the stunning Zuiveringshal for the first part of the summit: the roundtable sessions. The participants were divided into groups on different tables. At each table, the attendees exchanged ideas and best practices on one of the following topics:

  1. Connecting corporates to the startup ecosystem
  2. The city as a launching customer for startups
  3. Attracting, creating and upscaling tech talent
  4. International collaboration between startup cities
  5. Unleashing capital and investments
  6. Startup city marketing
  7. The interaction between the city and its (metropole) region
  8. Inclusive economic growth

Each participant was seated at two different tables for a session of thirty minutes each. Soon after, Ruben Nieuwenhuis – StartupAmsterdam’s private lead – opened the session, and the participants began connecting and exchanging ideas. The attendees found the session to be meaningful experience: everyone gained new knowledge about a variety of startup- and tech-related topics and made valuable international connections.

A day of insightful presentations

After the roundtable sessions, the guests moved on to the Westerliefde hall, where the keynote session took place. For this part of the summit, we invited some highly influential speakers to share their insights on the role local governments should play in a in startup and tech ecosystems. The session was officially opened by Deputy Mayor Kajsa Ollongren of Amsterdam, who highlighted the importance of cities collaborating with one another – rather than seeing one another as competitors. “The end goal is to help startups grow fast, scale globally and make sure that our cities provide them with a strong ecosystem. In this way, we all will benefit,” she said.

Next up was Bedy Yang, the managing partner at 500 Startups, a global venture-capital seed fund with a network of startup programmes headquartered in Silicon Valley. The title of her presentation was “Building ecosystems around the world: 5 questions to answer”. She shared insights on the importance of city branding, constant flows of capital and community leadership.

The third speaker at the summit was Dane Stangler, head of policy at Startup Genome. He elaborated on how Startup Genome assesses startup and tech ecosystems around the world and gave insights on the life cycle of these ecosystems.

The fourth and final speaker was Siddharth Bannerjee (a policy analyst and researcher at Nesta), who gave a talk on the use – and misuse of – city-ranking indexes. He shared the key indicators Nesta uses to rate startup ecosystems for their European Digital City Index and talked about Nesta’s Digital Entrepreneurship Idea Bank for Local Policymakers Report.

A royally good panel

Finally, there was a panel discussion with Prince Constantijn van Oranje, special envoy at StartupDelta, and Bindi Karia, innovation expert and member of numerous advisory boards, including Startup Europe and The London Tech Advocates. The discussion was hosted by StartupAmsterdam's Ruben Nieuwenhuis, with one of the main topics being how national governments can empower startup and tech ecosystems.

The Startup City book

After the panel discussion, Bas Beekman and Ruben Nieuwenhuis officially launched their book: Startup City: The Role of the Government in Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. The book – which is now available to preorder – takes a comprehensive look at how the public sector can engage with the private sector to form initiatives that boost startup and tech ecosystems, nurturing the cities as hotbeds for growth and innovation.