Why choose Rotterdam for your start-up?

Rotterdam – Amsterdam’s trendy younger brother. The city was drastically rebuilt after fatal bombings in World War II, replacing a once quaint and practical city with vibrant, innovative and inspiring architecture.

This stamp of post-war modernity speaks for the city as a whole, which now boasts staggering bridges, quirky, colorful buildings, and Europe’s biggest port. Rotterdam has a long-standing industrial legacy, but in recent years it has become quite the spot for tech start-ups as well. The following discussion will have a look at why Rotterdam could be the perfect place for your start-up company to mature to full potential.

Tech hub

Rotterdam is home to over 500 tech start-ups already. These companies have a diverse range from smaller scale to rapid-growth start-ups. Thus, operating out of Rotterdam as a tech startup offers fruitful potentials to work alongside these growing businesses and be surrounded by like-minded individuals and groups. Moreover, the city is very close to a TU Delft, which is a tech university that has developed into a national tech-hub that offers a wealth of talent and tech-related research.

Beyond start-ups, the city is home to large corporations, such as Unilever, ING, Rabobank, and Shell. All these corporations have have established offices in the city, which offers high-value networking opportunities. As a rule, startups that finds themselves in close proximity to major companies of interest have higher potentials for attracting investment, networking, growing and scaling, and even being bought-out by said companies if wished for.

Maritime and Trading hub

If you didn’t already know, Rotterdam is Europe’s maritime capital. With a close proximity to both the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, and excellent links to the major European river networks, Rotterdam has earned this reputation through centuries of trade and shipping experience. According to Bas Ort, Chair of The Netherlands Maritime Technology, “It’s all happening in Rotterdam because of our distinctive network and the fact that everyone – researchers, suppliers, and the government – works together.”

This legacy has recently encouraged many maritime-based start-ups to operate out of Rotterdam. Examples include: Green Sea Guard, DockTech and THREATSPAN. To add to this, The Maritime and Logistics University of Applied science is also based in Rotterdam, thus deepening the pool of local talent.

Talent Hub

Rotterdam offers an abundance of successful institutions to source your future talent from. These are too many to name here, but here are a few key players to get you started.

  • TU Delft, as previously mentioned, Delft is a mere 10-minute journey via train, and the TU Delft is the largest and longest-running tech university in the Netherlands.
  • The Erasmus University Rotterdam is one of Europe’s leading business schools, and it boasts the largest and most versatile university medical center in the country. It also includes Rotterdam School of Management, which repeatedly ranks in the top 10 list of European research-based business schools.
  • Among these academic giants also sits The Europort Business School, a specialized business school that operates in close collaboration with several leading companies.
  • Last but far from least, the Willem de Kooning Academie for Arts and Design. This institute consistently produces high caliber artists, designers, and thinkers who go on to engage with a diverse portfolio of careers. In other words, the perfect talent pool for an innovative startup.

Location and Size

Just like Amsterdam and The Hague, Rotterdam is nested pleasantly into the "city cluster" known as the Randstad. This city cluster or Megapolis is comprised of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht, and has excellent transport links between all four locations.

This interconnected hub of cities makes the business community of the Randstad a thriving one, for in-person meetings are easily organised and commuting times are short. Not only are each of these Randstad cities of national importance, they’re also connected on a global scale. Rotterdam plays host to the largest European port, making it superbly connected by water, but Rotterdam/The Hague Airport is also a stone's throw from the city center, and offers frequent flights to London, Paris, Barcelona and over 35 other destinations.

Quality of Life

Many people flock to Amsterdam for its notoriety as a European capital city, but Rotterdam has some considerable advantages. For starters, it's worth mentioning that Rotterdam is on average 15% cheaper to live in than Amsterdam. Moreover, the base cost of a fully-furnished apartment in Rotterdam is a whopping 42% cheaper than Amsterdam!

Having evolved over the last few centuries as a hub for working-class people, Rotterdam provides a slightly more real-life feel than the sometimes fairy-tale-like Capital. Moreover, the city is a pinnacle of modernity with overt diversity and a thriving cultural sector. As a result, Rotterdam is brilliant for nightlife, food, music, and cultural events such as the North Sea Jazz Festival and Film Festival Rotterdam. If all of this isn’t enough and you still want a taste of the capital, all you need to do is hop on a train for 40 minutes, meaning that you can go to the capital and back and still be in time for dinner!

Start-up resources

Infographic: Rotterdam Partners

The image above exemplifies the diverse and intertwined ecosystem of start-up resources that are available in Rotterdam. From innovators, incubators, and accelerators to crowd funders, co-working spaces, and networking opportunities – Rotterdam is a hotbed of activity.

We hope these factors may help you decide where to take your start-up. At the moment, the only way for Rotterdam is up, so it’s worthwhile hopping on board before the ship sails out!