Amsterdam Center for Entrepreneurship to launch €150M fund for spinouts


The Amsterdam Center for Entrepreneurship (ACE) is planning to launch a €150mn fund later this year to further expand its support to startups spinning out of academia.

Established in 2008, ACE is the city’s university incubator with four academic stakeholders: the University of Amsterdam, the Vrije Universiteit, the University of Applied Sciences, and Amsterdam UMC.

Its mission is to help students and academics build a company. For this reason, ACE offers two types of programmes: the Explore Programme, which provides the business and entrepreneurship fundamentals; and the Incubator Programme, which targets early-stage startups that are ready to grow their businesses and need the tools to do that.

“Explore is sort of like PhD students playing with the basic ingredients of entrepreneurship,” Oscar Kneppers, CEO of ACE, explained in the latest episode of the TNW Podcast.

“In the best scenario, those people would say at some point, ‘Hey, I want to build a company,’ and they would come to the Incubator.”

But why is such an initiative needed for Amsterdam’s ecosystem?

According to Kneppers, there are thousands of researchers but very few companies that are created by them.

“We have the smartest people in one city, working on so many different beautiful subjects, and solving so many problems,” he said. What was lacking was a system to bring all this knowledge and talent to market.

For this reason, ACE is moving to a new chapter and is rebranding itself as Cæmpus, with “æ” standing for “academic entrepreneurs.” Kneppers’ vision is to bring all the different initiatives of the four universities together under one umbrella brand.