Seize the opportunity to scale up

ACE incubator, which helps university researchers, students and graduates turn innovative tech- and science-based ideas into thriving companies, has opened applications for its Ready to Scale programme. Designed by ACE, the University of Amsterdam Business School and the Startup Network Foundation, the programme offers an unique opportunity for companies looking to scale up and take things to the next level.
To take part, businesses need to have between €100,000 and €2.5 million in annual revenue. They must also have taken the first steps toward reaching the next level of growth but want to accelerate their progress while connecting with potential investors. 

A legacy of success

Past editions of the programme have helped some of today’s hottest startups grow, develop and establish themselves on an international level. The Fork, which assists agrifood companies looking to implement blockchain technology, participated in 2018 and has felt the benefits ever since. 

Discussing her experience, COO Kirsten Coppoolse says: “Ready to Scale convinced us of the importance of working on the company instead of in the company. We now set aside planned time to think about strategy and structure.” She adds that the programme “gave us the structure to manage our scaling-up process. It was also very helpful to compare experiences with the other participants.”


Ev Liu, founder of Straw by Straw, which manufactures eco-friendly drinking straws made from wheat, also had a positive experience, saying Ready to Scale “helped me to shape the internal structures of my business.” She also believes the programme provided her with the knowledge required to handle the challenges she faces as head of a growing company. “As a young founder, it’s impossible to know everything and the programme showed me what kind of struggles or complex situations you can get in, and how to deal with them.” 

Learning from the best

Ready to Scale offers some great perks, including the chance to connect with potential investors and pitch to corporate clients. For Liu though, the best thing about participating was bonding with other people growing their startups. “The biggest benefit is learning from other entrepreneurs,” she says. “Some are more experienced than others, but everyone has a fresh new look on the same situations.”

Everlyn Straw by Straw

Ev Liu, founder of Straw by Straw

Additionally, there are specialised classes and workshops, where participants can study funding, digital strategy and going international. Personalised guidance and advice are available through a minimum of three mentoring sessions and ACE connects participating companies with local university students, providing access to skilled talent.

For Maarten ten Houten, the programme provided invaluable exposure to different aspects of running a company. The CEO and founder of Coolfinity, which makes a refrigerator that can run for 24 hours on six hours of power, he says that, "In a startup, you often have to handle all aspects of a business, but normally you have only experience in a few, like innovation, but not finance or HR. Ready to Scale was a great experience for our team as it opened our eyes to a much broader scope. It provided us hands-on tools and showed us how to directly implement them...[helping] us prepare and plan for the next phases of growth.”

Take the first step

Do you think Ready to Scale will make a difference in the future of your startup? Don’t hesitate to contact Ellen Spithoven for information about the application process. 

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