Dutch hotspot for startups
SVG will continue to help out any new startups that get in touch. For the latest information about how COVID-19 impacts the Startup Visa programme, please check the Techleap COVID-19 Startup Guide.
For other COVID-19 related information, check out the COVID-19 page at IWCN.nl.
Welcome to Groningen
This jewel of the Northern Netherlands is a thriving university town with one of the youngest populations in Europe. We’re known for our progressive urban policy, no-nonsense character, nonstop nightlife (with our own night mayor), and a very large number of bicycles. The city of Groningen is known for its fast-growing start-up and scale-up culture, Nobel prize-winning scientists and having some of the happiest residents of Europe.
The Netherlands is one of the safest countries in the world, and has the highest English language proficiency in the world. Groningen itself has a massive amount of internationals - from students to startups, from PhDs to highly-skilled migrants - so you will hear many different languages on the street. Go to the bottom of this page to apply for Startup Visa Groningen
The Northern Netherlands’ business ecosystem has very well-developed networks, so it’s easy to find new supporters and get advice from someone that has done it before. The Launch Cafe, VentureLab North, and the International Welcome Center North (IWCN) have all been really good resources. The networking circles are also really small, so you can meet people very efficiently. People here are happy to be involved in something new and innovative, which makes it really easy to make new connections.
Startup Visa Groningen
How to set up your business in Groningen
The Netherlands issues special visas to entrepreneurs from outside the European Union (EU) looking to start company. The Startup Visa is a residence permit is valid for a maximum of one year, and you'll be expected to produce or introduce an innovative new product or service within that time, under the guidance of an experienced facilitator. More details can be found at business.gov.nl.
How to apply: the procedure
Groningen welcomes ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs from all over the world and we have several facilitators specialized in the industries Digital, Energy and Health. If you want to apply for the Startup Visa, find out more about the facilitators, their program and their admittance criteria below. If you think there’s a match between you and one of the facilitators, please reach out to us via the contact form on the bottom of the page.
We will contact you within five working days and when we see potential, we will plan an intake on location or via Skype. When there is a positive match and mutual expectations are in line, we’ll start the application procedure.
IWCN services: soft landing
The International Welcome Center North (IWCN) provides internationals who come to Groningen (and the rest of the Northern Netherlands) with a warm welcome and a soft landing. The IWCN has a walk-in office in the city center of Groningen where not only all government formalities can be arranged (so you can pick up your residence permit here!); you can also receive all information you need to live happily in the Groningen region. Think of information on housing, healthcare, opening a bank account, enrolling your children to the international school, Dutch language and culture seminars, and a social network and social events — everything to ensure you will feel at home in Groningen. More information here!
Wanna know more about in Groningen? Make it in the North is a platform for internationals in the Northern Netherlands with careers, sector info, its own English-language newspaper (The Northern Times), and a cultural agenda with all “Language No Problem” events that are happening in Groningen: Here & Now.
The north is a better place to live than the Randstad. There is nothing like Groningen. The north of the Netherlands is the land of opportunities for internationals who want to start their own businesses as the market is large and the economy healthy
The stepping stone to success
Facilitator: What is their role?
Startup Visa Groningen is a cooperation between established facilitators, who are specialized in the following strong regional sectors: Digital , Energy and Health. Our goal is to inform entrepreneurs about the opportunities in the region and provide the best match possible between the entrepreneur and one of the facilitators. All facilitators offer high quality programs, facilities and coaching to assist you in building a successful startup in the Netherlands.
The only facilitator in the Netherlands specialised in gaming.
A community of entrepreneurs working on IT and internet related topics.
A high quality accelerator program linked to the University of Groningen.
Driver of innovation with a well-connected ecosystem in health, affiliated to the Academic Medical Center Groningen.
Central organization linked to innovations in (clean) energy and logistics.
Interested in other sectors? Our colleagues in Friesland (an hour from Groningen) can help you out!
What is the startup visa?
The startup visa scheme makes it possible for ambitious entrepreneurs from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland to apply for a temporary residence permit for the Netherlands. The startup visa scheme allows entrepreneurs for a maximum of one year to get an innovative new business off the ground. It is mandatory to receive guidance from an experienced facilitator. This support helps you to grow from a startup into a fully fledged business. It is a win-win situation for the entrepreneur and Dutch society at large: you have a successful business, and the Dutch economy benefits.
How do I get the startup residence permit?
You can get a Dutch startup permit by applying at the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) together with an acknowledged facilitator. You cannot apply without a facilitator. If everything is in order, you can receive the startup permit. More information at the RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) website.
What is a facilitator?
A facilitator is an experienced mentor or a mentoring organisation which will help you make your startup a success. Every facilitator has its own program and selection criteria. RVO sets the following conditions for a facilitator:
- The facilitator must have experience in guiding innovative start-ups.
- The facilitator must be financially sound.
- The facilitator may not, in any case, be in receivership or bankrupt and must have no negative equity.
- The facilitator may not have a majority interest in the start-up company.
- The facilitator may not be a family member up to the third degree (child, parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle) of the start-up entrepreneur.
You can find the facilitators of the SVG program above. Follow the links to their websites to find out what their individual programs are like.
How do I know if my startup idea is good or innovative?
Your startup idea must fit one or more of the following criteria:
- The product or service is new to the Netherlands.
- It involves new technology for production, distribution or marketing.
- It involves an innovative organisational procedure and method.
For example, this could mean that your startup has something like:
- Business activities stimulated within the context of the Top Sector Policy.
- Self-developed new products or services.
- New product-market combinations.
- Social responsible enterprises.
- Original approach to energy conservation.
- Original approach to environmental/sustainability issues.
- Smart and creative adaptations or combinations for the purpose of cross-sectoral applications.
- Creative or innovative market approach.
- Social innovation.
For all conditions, check the Start-up page on the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) website.
What should be in my business plan?
A business plan summarises the plans you have for your business and makes you examine whether your plans are viable and whether a market exists for your product or service. Drafting a business plan also forces you to make certain choices and helps you avoid overlooking any important issues. More information at business.gov.nl.
What are the 'sufficient resources' for the startup permit work?
When you live in the Netherlands on your startup permit, all your time should go to making your startup a success. To make sure of this, you are required to have a sum of money to pay for your living costs (rent, food, insurance).
The sufficient resources could look as follows:
- The entrepreneur proves by way of a bank statement, that he has sufficient funds in his account.
- Another (legal) person, for example the facilitator, may fund the stay by providing financial resources to the start-up entrepreneur. The support must be available for the entire stay of the start-up entrepreneur (maximum of 1 year).
What happens at the end of my startup year?
At the end of Year 1, you can apply for a permit to work on a self-employed basis. If your startup has been going well, your facilitator’s recommendation will help you a lot in that regard. More information can be found here.
What is it like moving to Groningen?
Moving to Groningen means getting used to a lively city that is full during the day and at night due to the high amount of (international) students. Dutch people tend to speak English without issues, and Groningen in particular (with its young and international population) will make it easy to find out where and what everything is.
Many ‘Stadjers’ (people living in the ‘stad’ (city) Groningen) do not own a car as it is possible to cycle nearly everywhere you need to be within the city. When you do need to go further, the public transport buses drive criss-cross through the city frequently and punctually.
You’ll probably arrive at the train station, and a walk to the city center has you pass the Groninger Museum on the way to the city’s two market squares which have markets multiple days a week with food, flowers, clothes and more. The city center has great shopping streets which have won multiple awards, excellent (rooftop) bars and cinemas in all shapes, sizes and genres. There’s always something going on.
Around the city center are neighborhoods which each have their own commercial centers with supermarket and other amenities, so even if you live in a neighborhood further from the center, you’ll never have to go far for what you need.
People from the Netherlands speak their mind - which is sometimes perceived as blunt - and people from Groningen are known for being particularly ‘nuchter’, or down to earth.
Moving to Groningen includes getting used to an overwhelming amount of cyclists, moderate temperatures (around 25C in summer and rarely dipping below -5C in winter), and quite a lot of rain.
It also means being close to beautiful wide open nature, half an hour from the beach, and close to our Wadden islands (which can be reached by ferry). While Drenthe, the province to the south of Groningen (30 minutes by bus) has lush forests, Groningen is all about open space, and an open mind.
What are considerations for starting a business in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands has amazing opportunities for startup and an excellent business climate. Read about all the benefits and information about different types of company entities here.