Startup incubators and accelerators
The StartupAmsterdam ecosystem hosts a rich and diverse network of startup incubators and startup accelerators. Across sectors, industries and special fields, they support entrepreneurs and young companies in planning, running and accelerating a successful business strategy. This guide includes a comprehensive, if not complete, overview of programmes in the Amsterdam Area and beyond.
Startup incubators and startup accelerators provide young businesses and scale-ups access to sources and resources that can accelerate their growth. Support can take the form of access to experienced mentors with relevant area expertise; guidance on securing funding and venture capital; workspace provision; and inclusion in a like-minded or like-spirited community. This guide describes and links to the diverse and dynamic programmes available in the Amsterdam Area and beyond, both in person and online.
To learn more about the different types of programmes, read on.
Collaborative programmes designed to help newly established, often young businesses succeed are the hallmark of startup incubators. They offer the tangible and moral support most needed during a company’s early stages, including a workspace, seed funding, mentoring and coaching. Their ultimate goal is to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Generally not-for-profit, startup incubators can be run by public or private entities, including universities, business schools, governments, civic groups, startup organisations and other successful entrepreneurs. This list highlights key startup incubators in Amsterdam and beyond. Note that some double as startup accelerators (for more on accelerators, see next section).
As the world’s largest pre-seed startup incubator, the Amsterdam-Silicon Valley Founder Institute helps aspiring entrepreneurs, solo entrepreneurs and small teams get their initial traction and funding.
The ACE Incubator supports students, academics and tech professionals who are starting or growing their business. This includes giving them training, coaching and introductions to a network of industry leaders, investors and service providers.
Impact Hub focuses on sustainable innovations and has a network of 17,000 entrepreneurs and innovators in over 50 countries and over 100 locations worldwide – including Amsterdam. Impact Hub also serves as a co-working space, making it an ideal meeting place for entrepreneurs.
Demonstrator Lab is an entrepreneurship laboratory that helps transform ideas into a tangible product or service. Run in a learning-by-doing environment, the lab is open to students and staff members with the aim of boosting research-driven innovation.
Made possible by Nonprofit Ventures, the Post Growth Incubator Programme is a 10-week training course catering to entrepreneurs who want to actively apply the post-growth model to their business endeavours.
ScaleNL supports Dutch tech startups who have the potential to make an impact by offering them a launchpad to the US market. Through ScaleNL’s online platform, initiatives and events, entrepreneurs can connect with mentors and experts who can support their growth journey.
Fixed-term cohort-based programmes that include mentorship and coaching – with a pitch event or demo day as a possible grand finale – are common elements in startup accelerators. While traditional business incubators are often government-funded, generally take no equity and rarely provide funding, accelerators can be either privately or publicly funded. This list highlights some of Amsterdam’s various startup accelerators, which richly reflect the city’s main industries.
The AWS Startup Loft Accelerator is an equity-free 10-week programme. It is focused on supporting early-stage startups in Europe, the Middle East and Africa with technology, product development, go-to-market advice and getting people funded.
Their program is initiated by ScaleUpNation and Powered by Meaning Group and is supported by the Goldschmeding Foundation, Innovation Quarter and InvestNL.
Startupbootcamp aims to empower startups and scale-ups to build successful businesses. It provides three-month accelerator programmes depending on the business at stake. Focus areas are diverse, including themes such as smart city & IoT, commerce, and FinTech & cybersecurity. All are designed to support ambitious early-stage companies in the most relevant industries.
Leading global startup accelerator Plug and Play runs a programme in central Amsterdam that focuses on finding, piloting and bringing much-needed innovations to market without demanding equity participation from startups.
NEXT Startup Ventures is an Amsterdam-based accelerator and early-stage investor. Through it, hands-on entrepreneurs are available to advise on software-driven startups that solve real problems, helping startups find the right business model.
More of a startup generator than an accelerator, Antler seeks out exceptional founders from all over the world. It invests in and works with entrepreneurs from the very start to build a strong team, connect founders with mentors, coaches and advisors, and provide funding and support. Antler Amsterdam can help facilitate a startup visa for any nationality, so there’s no barrier to growth for international entrepreneurs.
Some startup accelerators focus on entrepreneurs and companies whose main business falls within a particular sector, industry or special field. This list highlights some of those programmes serving Amsterdam and beyond.
Techstars offers three-month accelerator programmes to gain funding, mentorship and access to the Techstars network. They’re currently accepting applications for several different programmes, as listed on view the Techstar website.
Startup in Residence is an innovative accelerator that’s a collaboration between the City of Amsterdam and participating startups. The project invites Dutch and international startups to devise solutions for social issues in the city.
The Innovation Lab at the Johan Cruijff Arena runs field lab projects (co-funded by the European Fund for Regional Development) that bring new solutions and technologies to our rapidly changing world.
Amsterdam Venture Studios is a hub for innovative science-based startups. This incubator gives students, researchers and graduates of knowledge institutes the tools they need to transform their ideas into viable businesses.
Promoting innovation in the cultural sector, Art-up offers an intensive five-month incubator programme, involving workshops and training, coaching and collaboration, and meeting a broad network of both peers and experts.
Fashion for Good’s Innovation Platform connects those working on sustainable innovation with brands, retailers and funders. The Innovation Platform is made up of three programmes – accelerating, scaling and funding – tailored to different stages of a business’s maturity.
For music-tech entrepreneurs, WeWork Labs & BW Ventures' Music Tech Accelerator opens for applications each summer. It offers coaching, investment and product development knowhow for pre-revenue music startup teams.
The ACE AI Lab offers students in the field the opportunity to work on a real-life artificial intelligence business challenge set by a corporate partner, providing coaching and infrastructure, plus the potential of gaining the challenger as a launching customer.
Econnections is a five-month accelerator programme for e-commerce startups and scale-ups that focus on bringing sustainable solutions to the sector. It includes tailor-made support for sales, technology, finance, tax and legal, and talent, and matches participants to partners to initiate pilot projects.
Female empowerment and minority programmes
Startup incubators and accelerators that are run by women and other traditionally marginalised groups face specific social and/or cultural challenges. A number of programmes in Amsterdam and beyond are specifically designed to support these groups.
Also part of WaiACCELERATE, InnoHUB is an immersive learning and accelerating programme on the topic of ‘open innovation and agile thinking’ for women and gender non-conforming innovators from the Netherlands, the rest of the Benelux and other global markets.
EQUALS and Amsterdam Squared have launched a fast track for female entrepreneurs called Momentum. This intense three-month online programme helps kick-start entrepreneurial ambitions and launch actual businesses.
Zidi Circle is a business incubator that supports diaspora and African SMEs to launch businesses in their country of origin or internationally through business training, mentorship, access to finance, matchmaking and venture partnerships.
Networking with peers and professionals
While most accelerator and incubator programmes offer some kind of networking opportunities, a few offer support specifically through connecting entrepreneurs to a network of their peers and other professionals. Plus, for those seeking funding, expanding one’s network to include potential investors is crucial.
nlgroeit is a platform by and for entrepreneurs, supporting businesses of varying sizes to scale by providing information and inspiration, organising networking events, exchanging insights among members and facilitating mentorships.
DutchTechSF is a supportive online network of more than 200 founders and startup enthusiasts from the Netherlands and Silicon Valley. The platform helps Dutch companies break into Silicon Valley by helping them apply for the twice-yearly Y Combinator programme, which is known for birthing companies such as Airbnb, Stripe and Dropbox.
Clever Clover invests in early-stage businesses not only through capital, but also via access to a broad network of established industry specialists from all essential disciplines. This enables startups to gain an edge by accessing world-class expertise in an easy and affordable way.
StartupRoulette is a monthly online speed-dating event for selected startups and relevant venture capital investors. Startups get three meaningful, carefully matched speed dates (each 20 minutes) with investors. It is intended to encourage efficient network-building with potential investors.
Fully remote digital programmes
With the COVID-19 pandemic still top of mind, it may make more sense to follow a startup incubator or startup accelerator programme remotely. While many of the listings mentioned above also offer online options, the following programmes are fully remote and digital.
Startup Leap offers a free online programme to support entrepreneurs in bringing their ideas to market through a series of videos, articles, talks and activities. Startup Leap has a host of partners, including ACE Incubator, StartupAmsterdam, TheNextWomen and Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship. Currently, the programme is open to all founders who are working on an idea or are in the first stage of their startup.