As once stated by Archimedes ‘Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth’, so does the Amsterdam Cente for Entrepreneurship (ACE) that embarked itself on the mission to provide a solid ground for talented youth who have ideas worth exploring and testing and that can potentially disrupt the current status quo. ACE contributes to the entrepreneurial climate in the Netherlands, particularly via training and networking activities.
What’s in the ACE pack?
ACE undertakes a number of activities that are essential for nurturing entrepreneurial mindset. These entrepreneurship-support activities can generally be clustered into four categories: training, facilitation of financial support, events, and international mobility.
The center runs tailored training programmes for early-stage start-ups and scale-ups. The innovative design of the ACE programmes recognizes the diversity of their audience, i.e. participants with no business idea, participants with an idea but requiring further refinement, and participants with an actual venture requiring a growth strategy.
The Center connects start-ups with its venture capital network that has over 15 firms. ACE also works with financial institutions, i.e. Rabobank, to facilitate loans. Specifically, Rabobank supports the participants of the Ready to Scale program by offering an innovation loan worth of €25K with 3-year grace period. Other forms of financial support are structured around Amsterdam Student Investment Fund and Innovatiefonds Noord-Holland.
In May 2018 ACE launched the Innovators Tribe program. The program hosts a series of events addressing key emerging technologies and their implementation in the world of work. By doing so, ACE facilitates the exchange of expertise and broadens its own network of corporate innovators.
Finally, ACE opens up a unique opportunity for start-ups and alumni to experience diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem through its Landing Pad Network. So far, the network has four incubators: UnternehmerTUM (Germany), PoliHub (Italy), and Orange Grove (Greece) and SINE (India), and this network is yet to expand. It offers wider opportunities for collaboration, and program participants have secured free office space within the above-mentioned incubators.
Since its launch in 2013, ACE has achieved impressive results. These include the incubation of over 100 start-ups, the absolute majority of which (71%) have a more than 2-year survival rate. Their revenue generation exceeds €20M. The start-up incubation within ACE has created over 450 new jobs in the region, what, undoubtedly, has a positive impact on reginal economy.
The secret ingredient? – It is all about people
According to Erik Boer, ACE director, the success of the organisation is mostly dependant on the people who work with ACE. Though being quite small in size, it has a wide range of stakeholders who regularly contribute to its development, e.g. main partners, i.e. UvA Ventures Holding, Amsterdam Business School, Innovation Exchange Amsterdam (IXA), corporate sponsors (Rabobank, Ernst & Young, Info Support, Equinix, etc.), mobility partners (UnternehmerTUM, PoliHub, Orange Grove, etc.), venture capitalists (Newion Investments, Peak Capital, Holland Capital, Health Innovations, etc.), consultants and service providers as well as numerous other partners.
The regular feedback collected from the ACE partners confirms that the team continuously stays very positive and supportive. Also, a clear success indicator is the extensive network of partners that keeps growing.