Startup in Residence program 2017:

Meet the jury

Contributions to the Startup in Residence program are trickling in. Our professional jury is getting ready to look at all proposals. We’re glad to introduce our jury members to you today.

Jury member Simone Brand is one of the Dutch pioneers in impact investment. In 1995, she founded and managed the first venture capital impact fund in the Netherlands. It invested exclusively in startups and early-stage companies with a focus on environmental, social, or cultural issues. “While running this fund, I learned about the importance of strong entrepreneurship and started to specialize in helping entrepreneurs get the best out of themselves,” she explains.

Jury member Frans Van den Broek is a serial entrepreneur himself. He represents 20 years of initiating different companies and projects. “I literally started doing business from my dorm room, and haven’t stopped since. I am continuously working on new ideas and trying to find ways to bring them to market,” he summarizes his entrepreneurial spirit.

Jury member Aart Willem Benschop is responsible for business development at TNO. In his work, he focuses on creating collaboration between different organizations, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), large industrial partners, and government. Looking back at 30 years of professional experience, he is adamant that multidisciplinary projects encourage innovation.

Jury member Maarten Hillenaar is program lead in the municipality’s Smart Cities program. He has a wide range of professional experience, having worked both for government and in the private sector, and in big as well as small organizations. “My most important professional insight over the years is the importance of looking over the fence, quite literally. It’s essential to keep reminding ourselves that we can’t know it all,” he says.

Jury member Anna Menenti manages the municipality’s overall startup program called ‘Impact Economy’. She knows the startup culture like no other and has a real knack for weeding out the most meaningful forms of innovation. She aspires to build bridges between the municipality and the startup community. “At the municipality, we’re eager to innovate, but tend to chose certainty over new methods, ideas, or products,” she explains. “The Startup in Residence program demonstrates the potential of reiterative innovation. It also shows us that, in iteration, the risks we take by doing things differently can remain in check.”

Connecting vastly different worlds

The 2017 edition of The Hague’s governmental accelerator program was launched mid-April. The program is inspired by the notion that startups are perfectly positioned to come up with altogether new solutions to the problems the city faces.

“The program connects our vastly different worlds, allows us to learn from each other, and will hopefully encourage us to start building brand new solutions together,” Maarten Hillenaar emphasizes. Aart Willem Benschop adds, “Communication has become so much easier these days. This helps advance multidisciplinary thinking and working tremendously.”

Success stories

Anna Menenti adds, “As human beings, we are wired to stay on the beaten track. By definition, disruptive innovation cannot originate from there. I hope that the program will bring forth solutions that were unthinkable before. Ideally, the program will show us that it’s worthwhile to try altogether new things. We need success stories to encourage behavioral change. In the end, that’s what it’s all about, when it comes to entrepreneurs, the municipality, as well as the end users.”

A smart method

Frans Van den Broek agrees and even takes it one step further. “Real innovation will not come from within the municipality itself. It starts with entrepreneurship. That’s why it’s essential for government to institutionalize these types of programs. It allows them to keep innovation nearby. It’s a smart method.”

Aart Willem Benschop adds, “The City of The Hague is in the fortunate position that it’s located right in the center of Dutch government. It is my hope that these types of programs penetrate and influence the spirit of politics and government.”

The Startup in Residence program is centered on a series of eight urban challenges that were carefully curated by the city’s municipal officers. The deadline for participation in the program is 30 May. Interested to apply? Have a look at the program’s website. We look forward to receiving your contribution.