Amsterdam packs a big punch

Amsterdam’s startup ecosystem ranks among the top five in Europe and number 13th globally, according to the latest annual report from Startup Genome.

Each year, the policy and research organisation carries out the most comprehensive analysis on startup ecosystems. This year it assessed more than 275 ecosystems across more than 100 countries, measuring startup clusters on six success factors: performance, knowledge, connectedness, market reach, talent and experience, and funding.

This year, Amsterdam’s startup scene was singled out as having experienced “explosive growth”.  “With about a tenth of the population of London, the larger area of Amsterdam (+100km) may be a relatively small delta region, but as a startup ecosystem it packs an increasingly big punch. Over the last decade, Amsterdam has been rising fast in terms of the overall value of its startup ecosystem,” the report said. 

A thriving startup scene

The research also found:

  • Amsterdam startups founded since 2000 have a combined value of more than $86 billion, up from just $12 billion in 2015, the third largest total in Europe.
  • Since 2011, Amsterdam’s region saw a 58% average year-over-year growth.
  • 2019 marked a record year in venture capital investment in the ecosystem, and despite the disruption of COVID-19, investment doubled again in 2020
  • Sectors drawing high investment include AI and Big Data, which accounted for 36% of local deals since 2016. Fintech startups accounted for 20% of deals, and cleantech is gaining momentum, which has covered 10% of deals so far.

What makes Amsterdam great for startups

As well as being ideally located for easy connections to other European markets, Amsterdam boasts a strong digital infrastructure, well educated workforce – more than 90% of the Dutch population speaks English – and business-friendly regulations and schemes that support entrepreneurship and international talent. 

According to Startup Genome, Amsterdam’s relatively small market forces companies to “think globally from the outset”, benefited by the city’s dozens of accelerator and incubator programmes and buoyed by homegrown international success such as Adyen and Takeway.com and the presence of many multinational corporations. 

The report also gave pointers for the city to rank even higher, such as providing more funding for coding bootcamps and STEM programmes to develop tech talent, and diversity and inclusivity programmes to increase women’s participation in tech. 

It concluded: “With incredible talent, a strong culture of innovation, and increasing access to the funds necessary for companies to dream big, the future looks bright for Amsterdam startups.”

Read the full report.

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