The city of Rotterdam is making huge strides forward in various areas, yet is lagging behind when compared to the leading tech cities in Europe. According to tech entrepreneurs Hans Scheffer, Ohad Gilad, and Martijn Don, this has to change. With the support of the City of Rotterdam and various large institutions in the field of education, entrepreneurship, and investment, the founders of Helloprint and 42Workspace today launch their initiative WeTechRotterdam, a new platform, and partnership to put Rotterdam on the map as a European tech hub.
In Rotterdam, there are only a few examples of fast-growing tech companies compared to other cities. Hans Scheffer CEO of Helloprint, one of the fastest growing tech companies in the Netherlands and based in Rotterdam, explains why.
“With our company Helloprint, we consciously chose to shape our international ambitions from a city that is characterized by ups-and-downs, the will to win and the continuous drive to renew ourselves. It fits in well with our identity, but the issue is that the tech ecosystem in Rotterdam has not been developed sufficiently to grow quickly, there is too little talent and not enough of an entrepreneurial business climate for young tech professionals. Many companies choose to shape their ambitions using other cities as an example, which is why we want to break through and that is why we think it is essential to develop the Rotterdam tech scene with a more structured initiative so we can improve the position for Rotterdam. This is the reason for us developing WeTechRotterdam together with other Rotterdam entrepreneurs.
Founders Ohad Gilad and Martijn Don from 42workspace, the new coworking space for tech startups in Rotterdam, see a pressing need when it comes to innovative places in the field of technology in Rotterdam. Ohad Gilad said: “The gap compared to cities such as London, Berlin, Stockholm, and Amsterdam is considerable, but we also see a trend that more and more entrepreneurs are choosing to develop their companies in Rotterdam. Helloprint has been a pioneer over the past four years, with 150 employees on the payroll, a turnover of almost 50 million euros this year, plus they are already active in 7 European countries. They just started with four young guys in Rotterdam and are now conquering the world. How cool is that? It’s a great example for other startups.”
Apart from their own companies, the organizers strive for the development of a well-functioning – and co-operating – ecosystem. Martijn Don, “Running a start-up ecosystem is not simple. Many factors play a role in this. You need the presence of young talent, startups, scale-ups, and investors, but also to the right courses and an attractive a city to live and work in. We are convinced that Rotterdam has the potential to become a top tech city in Europe. There are many initiatives, but there is too little cooperation between them, and it is too fragmented. That is why, as a platform, we want to play an independent role to ensure that the ecosystem works together, creating a bridge between government, industry, educational institutions, the capital market, talent and individual initiatives. We are convinced that we can only create real impact if we do it in Rotterdam. Time to roll up the sleeves and join forces. We, therefore, call on everyone who can contribute to join the WeTechRotterdam foundation.”