Tech, funding and startup news: Netherlands streamlining immigration for entrepreneurs

(Editor’s note: This post also includes a “Who’s Got the Money” section for startups at the end, which is usually a stand-alone post. Also, the first version  contained a misspelling of Uvisio, a startup in the HighTechXL accelerator.)

start-up-residence_permitFor many, many reasons too numerous to detail here, the Netherlands and Germany are the two most-competitive countries when it comes to startups.

Now, Dutch officials are trying to further streamline how economic development coordinates with immigration. The goal is to make emigrating to the Netherlands easier for entrepreneurs while blocking scammers and, well, people who aren’t serious.

And we helped.

As a startup, Dispatches was selected as a participant in City Deal Warm Welcome, a program developed to increase the Netherlands’ attractiveness as a place for ambitious international entrepreneurs to set up shop.

At a meeting last Friday at the Expat Center in the World Trade Center Amsterdam complex, a group of five of us were briefed by about a dozen officials on several initiatives under consideration, including a third-party endorsement to fast-track visas for entrepreneurs.

That third-party endorsement approach could be a game changer.

As the concept was explained to us, entrepreneurs would pitch to a third-party vetting official appointed to analyze the merits of each applicant. If the entrepreneurs met the qualifying standards, the process would fast-track them past existing immigration bureaucracy.

Overall, participating entrepreneurs were to rate the appeal and practicality of six pitches, including talent acquisition (how to reach entrepreneurs in other countries), third-party endorsement, digital portal, quality of life and support and guidance. We were also asked for feedback on each proposed change.

Details under consideration – and these are only proposals – included putting together information better explaining the focus of each region. For example, Eindhoven – where Dispatches is based – is an ultra-high tech hardware center. Groningen in northern Holland is focused more on medtech. “Cities have their own priorities and focus,” said one official, something that’s not always apparent to highly skilled entrepreneurs considering setting up in the Netherlands.

Also, officials are considering designing a single entrepreneur visa portal with access to all required government agencies to give more effective guidance, as well as adding advice on taxes and legal issues. The proposal also includes call centers and chat bots to help applicants better navigate the system.

We’ll have an upcoming post about our negotiating the immigration labyrinth, which is easier for Americans than others, and getting Dispatches registered with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, which is a combination of the secretary of state and the Internal Revenue Service in the U.S.

About City Deal

City Deal – part of the Brainport economic development structure – tries to help ambitious, qualified entrepreneurs wanting to immigrate to the Netherlands and start businesses here.

Parties involved in City Deal include the municipalities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven, Tilburg, Haarlem, Groningen and the Dutch Ministries of Economic Affairs, Social Affairs, VenJ and Education.

Google Play Indie Games Contest

This is very cool. Google announced yesterday it is expanding its Indie Games contest from the United States and South Korea to independent developers in Europe. While it doesn’t look like winners get cash, they do get a YouTube influencer campaign worth up to 100,000 euros and premium placement in the Google Play store.

According to the Google Play website, the contest is open to indie game developers based in:

  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Turkey
  • UK (excl. Northern Ireland)

Israel is – interestingly – included in the Europe announcement, which states Poland and France are “coming soon.”

Eligible startups must have five or less full-time employees and have published a new game on Google Play after 1 January 2016.

From the Google Play website:

Google Play is the largest store for digital content. Over the past year, more than 65 billion apps and games were downloaded from the store. We are committed to helping indie game developers thrive and highlighting the best available games.

See all the content details here.

HighTechXL in Eindhoven picks new cohort for Fall 2016 accelerator

hightechxl-finalists-fall16-everyone-on-stageSpeaking of the Netherlands, the HighTechXL accelerator just chose 14 new startups for Eindhoven’s high-profile high-tech hardware effort. They’ll start working on the High Tech Campus Eindhoven later this month.

Startups include:

• Dreamz from Poland

Dreamz is a Virtual Reality solution for vision therapy that helps diagnose and speed up the treatment of amblyopia and strabismus in children. It consists of a headset with hand-gesture control sensors to track hand-eye coordination tasks. Its interactive, immersive, 3D content is adapted for children who suffer from amblyopia, better known as lazy eye.

• UVisio from Berlin, which has developed a skin patch that warns when someone is getting excessive UV exposure, reducing the risk of skin cancer. Team members include Vlad Hayrapetyan from Armenia. Hayrapetyan has been a senior software developer at a number of top IT/tech companies in Berlin.

• UScoutfor from the Netherlands

Uscoutfor is a platform that provides real-time insight to players and trainers in their performance. With a sophisticated video algorithm, we can detect behavioral patterns in sports and distribute high-value content to fans all over the world. Athletes get to show their skills, fans watch and interact with outstanding talents, clubs and scouts search on all available data.

Twenty-two startup teams traveled to Eindhoven from across Europe including Poland, Italy, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Germany and Russia. Oh, and there was a team from Azerbaijan and one from Brazil.

Quick hits:

Denmark is about to open its very own Fintech hub. Copenhagen Fintech is a joint initiative by Financial Services Union Denmark, the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Bankers Association to spur innovation in Denmark’s capital and largest city. It’s Scandinavia’s first co-working space dedicated to fintech entrepreneurs, according to Finextra.

• The network organization Amsterdam Data Science (ADS) signed an agreement with scientific publisher Elsevier, aimed at advancing data-science research and education in Amsterdam. ADS and Elsevier will collaborate on several fronts, including research and development, promoting Amsterdam as a data science centre, and developing data science talent.

Who’s Got the Money

4YFN AWARDS Barcelona

Registration open until 4 January
Finalists Announcement after 25 January

27 February to 1 March
Show time

The 4YFN Awards is the world’s largest startup competition on mobile technologies and business models which will benefit the lives of digital entrepreneurs and will highlight the most promising projects.
International media, global investors, innovation directors and potential clients will be attending the 4YFN Awards looking for the world´s top startups.
The chosen 24 finalists will travel to Barcelona during the Mobile World Congress taking place from 27th February to 1st March 2017 to pitch to investors, media, potential clients and the best qualified jury of experts, but only 3 will be the best 4YFN mobile startups of the year.

Apply here.

Mercedes Vans Startup AdVANce Stuttgart

Apply by 15 Jan, 2017

You have an idea to revolutionize the transport business? You want to gain from a long-term partnership with an OEM and stay independent at the same time? Startup adVANce by Mercedes-Benz Vans offers you exactly what you are looking for.

* Three Tracks: (1) Revolutionizing Cargo Space, (2) Internet of Things, (3) Transport Sharing Solutions
* Three Phases: (1) Alignment Phase, (2) Concept Phase, (3) Prototype Phase
* Total sum of awarded grants € 1 million
* Exclusive Partnership with Mercedes-Benz Vans
* Overall Goal: Long-term partnership

The main benefits for the participating startups are:
– Gaining a cooperation contract with Daimler AG;
– Development of prototypes in cooperation with Daimler AG;
– Financial support of up to € 500,000 (net) per selected startup for the development and production of prototypes without having to give up any shares in return;
– Insights into the future of last mile transportation; and
– Shared rights in and to the work results developed during the challenge.

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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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