Impact Startup Fest 2018:

1200 impact makers join forces for a better world

Driven by the motto ‘doing good & doing business’, more than 1200 impact-makers from a large number of countries gathered during the 3rd edition of Impact Startup Fest in The Fokker Terminal in The Hague. Here, they showed that innovations can make the world a better place to live. Impact Startup Fest once again demonstrated how social impact and economic success go hand in hand.

Impact Startup Fest is the annual event where purpose driven entrepreneurs from all corners of the world have a platform to present themselves, pitch for investors and exchange experiences to scale together. Impact Startup Fest is an initiative of the municipality of The Hague, together with a close group of impact partners, and within three years it has become the biggest impact event with international startups in Europe.

Erik van der Rijt, team manager Economy, Municipality of The Hague: “In The Hague, the international city of peace and justice, we have been working on a better world for more than a century, it is in our DNA. That is why The Hague is investing in an infrastructure where impact entrepreneurs can flourish. The fact that 1200 people from the Netherlands and abroad gather here today, proves once again that The Hague is the ultimate impact city.”

In this blog we take you through this vibrant day of Meetups, Roundabouts, Matchmaking and other beautiful impact moments.

Meetups for a better world

The day started at full speed with 10 very well attended Meetups. These were organized by our impact partners: DCHI, ECE, Foodstars, HiiL, Social Enterprise NL, The Hague Humanity Hub, EVPA, Social Finance NL and We Share.
Each one of them buzzing meetings with beautiful initiatives. We mention a few examples:

The launch of Social Finance NL

Social Finance NL was launched during Impact Startup Fest. Social Finance NL solves societal challenges by facilitating innovative collaborations between governments, social entrepreneurs and impact investors.

Ronald Cohen from Social Finance UK: “The Netherlands have been the unsang hero in impact investing. I see this as a big step forward in the global network of social finance. This moves us on the path of impact economies to improve lives and the planet. Without it there is no ‘easy’ solution to the challenges we face”.

DCHI annual event

The Hague features more than 200 NGOs. Many of those work on humanitarian innovation. These humanitarian organizations have combined their forces with governmental actors, knowledge institutes, academia and businesses in the Dutch Coalition of Humanitarian Innovation DCHI. To develop stronger ties with the impact startup ecosystem DCHI’s annual event and Impact Startup Fest joined forces. A great partnership that resulted in in-depth workshops on how to implement innovations for a better world.

As Minister Sigrid Kaag concluded: “We are not entering new crises with old answers. Innovation to me is the game changer”. New innovations and partnerships are desperately needed and a key factor in the humanitarian sector.

HiiL regional finals of the Innovating Justice Challenge

Before kicking off with the pitches of the six Dutch Finalists, The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) director Dr. Sam Muller shared a clear picture regarding the Sustainable Development Goal 16.3: equal justice for all. “On a global scale, we are massively underperforming on this goal”. More data should be available to be able to develop relevant and scalable innovations.

Why justice?
A working justice system will result in a stronger economy, better social and health systems. Muller described justice as a big relationship management system; if it works well it will result in strong, healthy and wealthy citizens. In other words, substantially more impact than can be captured with a BNP indicator.

The finalists for the ‘Innovating Justice Challenge’ showed how they tap into this huge global market and increase access to justice, for all.

Social Enterprise NL – Thesis price

Social Enterprise NL is a network by and for entrepreneurs, featuring also an annual thesis prize for theses aimed at corporate social responsibility. Niels Bosma, lecturer at Utrecht University and founder of the prize: “There is increasing interest from students in startups and social entrepreneurship, and every year the subjects are better. Also, students often go further in their careers as policy support or funding in governments. ”

Four students were nominated, and the winner is…: Rody Le with her thesis ‘An abnormal apple a day, keeps food waste at bay’. Congratulations Rody and enjoy your bike!

We Share Impact Competition

‘I have seen that too many startups fail unnecessarily. Imagine the huge waste of capital and lost opportunities. Let’s do something about it, something with impact’
– Edward de Jager, Founder and Chairman of the Board

The We Share circular impact fund was successfully pre-launched at the Impact Startup Fest. Two amazing startups Envision & Burgs Foods were selected from the We Share pitching contest to receive We Share Impact Loans of €95,000 each. Burgs Foods served the delicious cricket burgers at Impact Startup Fest. They were also featured on Omroep West.

Envision is currently Startup in Residence in order to empower the visual impaired in The Hague. The other pitching startups were Clensta and Decibel Live. If you are keen to support impactful innovations, don’t hesitate, get in touch!

A buzzing Fokker Terminal full of Matchmaking & Roundabouts

The positive energy was clearly felt during the intensive conversations in Roundabouts. All impact makers came together in small, thematic teams to learn, innovate and make new connections. There were a total of 250 Roundabouts, each featuring 4-6 people taking a deep dive in the world of impact entrepreneurship, technology, investment, innovation and impact.


Simultaneously to the Roundabouts, startups and scale-ups were linked one-on-one to investors, corporates and NGOs. Finding sufficient growth capital is a considerable challenge for many impact startups. Fortunately, there are more and more organizations that can support startup growth. Acumen, Stichting Doen, pymwymic, Uniiq, Rabobank, KVPlus, Innovation Quarter, EY and Startlife were ready to start the conversation.

Impact Startup Panel

During the Impact Startup Panel moderator Annette van Soest spoke with six enthusiastic entrepreneurs from four continents about entrepreneurship, their dreams and their concrete business goals for a better world. The participants in the panel were:

  • Jan Petersen – Smart Yields
  • Loek Peters – HumanSurge
  • Rodrigo Borgers – Inteligencia Relacional
  • Bicky Nguyen – CricketOne
  • Tey Al-Rjula – Tykn
  • Bala Reddy Visavaram – Our Food

The six impact makers shared their ambition, goals and struggles. They stressed the importance of strong -dinosaur- partners and appreciated The Hague’s welcoming impact ecosystem. They were happy to meet like-minded entrepreneurs, as these were seen as potential collaborators. All focused on developing sustainable business models for purpose.

See you next year!

We thank all participants, partners, and everyone who contributed to this great event for all their inspiration, energy, new ideas and above all: the unbridled commitment to a better world!

We look forward seeing you at the next edition of Impact Startup Fest.

Let’s keep in touch!