Why entrepreneurs love Amsterdam

Why entrepreneurs love Amsterdam

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Amsterdam, with its charming canals and pretty gabled houses, is not only a magnet for tourists worldwide, but also for expats looking to start a company. But why is Amsterdam so attractive to entrepreneurs?

Inviting business ecosystem

Startup Genome, a research institute in Silicon Valley, published their annual Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking on June 25, and Amsterdam can be found at the number 12 spot. Within Europe, the city ranks third, after Stockholm and London. The Dutch capital scores particularly well when it comes to Connectedness (10), Talent (7), Market Research (7) and Funding (7).


When it comes to connectivity, Amsterdam is top of the class. In fact, it was ranked number 1 in DHL’s Global Connectedness Index of 2019, which looks at four categories: Trade, Capital, Information and People. No wonder that the city is often referred to as the gateway to Europe.

Logistically, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport connects the city to more than 300 destinations. Furthermore, high-speed rail services make fast and comfortable train travel possible to Brussels, Berlin, Paris and London. And while the Port of Rotterdam is perhaps more famous, the Port of Amsterdam is one of Europe’s top five ports.

When it comes to digital connectedness, the city is a tech hub as well, as it houses one of the largest data transport hubs in the world: the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX). Connecting with corporations is easy too, as there are around 200 multinationals with European headquarters in Amsterdam, such as Netflix, Uber and Tesla.


Amsterdam also draws many talented people from abroad, for a variety of reasons. One of them is the 30% tax ruling, which targets highly skilled migrants. If they qualify, the taxable amount of their gross Dutch salary is reduced from 100% to 70%.

Also, international students who have graduated, obtained a PhD or performed scientific research in the Netherlands can easily apply for the so-called residence permit “orientation year highly educated persons”, or they can apply for a residence permit as a start-up entrepreneur.


When it comes to funding, the Dutch government offers various subsidies, tax schemes and benefits for (international) entrepreneurs. The handy online tool The Startup Box provides information to entrepreneurs on what government funding they can apply for.

There are also various private investors and bank schemes that entrepreneurs in the Netherlands can make use of, such as the Dutch Venture Initiative, the Green Projects Scheme and the Growth Facility Scheme.

According to Startup Genome, 960 million USD goes to total early-stage funding in Amsterdam-Delta. The global average of total early-stage funding is 431 million USD.

The inside scoop

But don't just take our word for it. One of Nyenrode Business Universiteit's full-time MBA students, Edward Ellis, is an aspiring entrepreneur  - and so he has personal experience when it comes to Amsterdam as a startup city. We asked him some questions:

Could you introduce yourself?

My name is Edward Ellis. I am from Stellenbosch in South Africa. I did my undergrad in Industrial Engineering and my post-grad in Engineering Management. I am now studying for an MBA at Nyenrode Business University. This is my second time studying in Europe - I previously studied in Ghent in Belgium as well. It was during this time that I travelled to Amsterdam, and I just fell in love with the city.

What was it that made you fall in love with the city?

It's such a vibrant city, but it's not a rat-race, like New York, for example. There is a beautiful work-life balance.

As an aspiring entrepreneur and someone who is studying an MBA full-time, I do not have a lot of time to go to networking events, however, the city does offer many cool networking opportunities, workshops and webinars. It has a really good business ecosystem.

Why did you decide to study at Nyenrode Business University Amsterdam in particular?

Well, there were several reasons. The first being the European Immersion Module that’s part of the MBA programme. This allows us to go on trips all around Europe and connect with major international companies.

The programme also offers something called Meet The CEO, where you have the opportunity to meet CEOs of international companies and see how they operate in person, how they work the room, how they communicate, how they carry themselves and so on. That’s where I learned a lot.

Another thing which is great about Nyenrode Business University is its amazing network. I recently started to look for jobs and the help I got from Nyenrode’s network and alumni has been incredible and so helpful.

Furthermore, the university has an incubator with multiple start-ups and scale-ups founded by fellow Nyenrode students. An inspiring environment that stimulates creativity!

Do you have any tips for other aspiring entrepreneurs in the city?

Well, one thing I have noticed is that people will give you the time if you don’t just have a business concept. You need to be able to show them something tangible, not just a concept or an idea.  

Do you have any other tips for students who are thinking about coming over here?

Just do it. I would tell anyone to study on a different continent, or in a different country, if they can. The experience gives you so much. You’ll come to find there are so many different people with different stories. It helps you understand people better, what they want, what makes them tick. This can really help you in so many ways if you are an entrepreneur. So, yeah, if you can, do it!

Want to know more about studying an MBA at Nyenrode Business University Amsterdam? Contact Nyenrode now!



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