Amsterdam: one of the most vibrant startup hubs

Amsterdam: one of the most vibrant startup hubs

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The sudden emergence of Amsterdam onto the tech startup scene caught many people off guard. With a population just under 1 million people, the (relatively) small city never indicated that it was quietly garnering the tools to launch an attack on the startup market. Suddenly, however, the city erupted onto the global market and is continuing to innovate while the world watches.

To determine how Amsterdam developed into a contender in the startup market, we’ll explore 1) the location, 2) the tax incentives of the city, 3) legal incentives, 4) investors, 5) local resources, 6) Amsterdam’s specialization, and 7) startups to watch.


Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, and is their most populated city. With the population hovering around 1 million people, it experiences an international culture through its transient population and its proximity to a port. Established in the early 1300s, Amsterdam has a rich, historical culture yet has remained current as the financial center of the Netherlands.

Geographical Benefits

imagesThe city of Amsterdam is located in northern Holland, surrounded on three sides by water. Situated near the North Sea, it is connected by three canals that transverse the city. A system of 90 islands, Amsterdam is sometimes referred to as the ‘Venice of the North’. The islands are connected by a network of over 1200 bridges. People are encouraged to use the recreation areas and enjoy the beauty of Amsterdam, a facet of Amsterdam that will help entrepreneurs briefly escape the pressure of their startup.

The city is served by a seaport, an airport and a system of roads and trams, and is one of the Europe’s leading tourist destinations. There are several parks and recreation centers in the city, and newcomers to the city will be delighted to wander through the historic architecture while heading to the park. A day can be spent wandering through the historic architecture, checking out the local museum or participating in any number of activities that are going on throughout the city. As a smaller city, it is easy to navigate from one end to another without getting too far off course.

Advantages of choosing the city

0423_eurocrisis_630x420There is much that draws people to Amsterdam; for entrepreneurs the attraction lies in the benefits the city can offer their company. One of the largest pulls to Amsterdam is their apparent lack of restriction. As a company, having fewer restrictions to manage is beneficial to everyone involved. The lack of strict requirements, the close proximity to Russia, it has many benefits going for the entrepreneur who wants to explore new technologies without fear of reprisal or corruption.

The transient nature of the city can be an advantage – it is easy to scrap an idea that doesn’t perform successfully or needs to be reworked – without much fear or guilt. Chances are good that within a few years, the startup market will have completely been revamped as new ideas and technologies are developed.Entrepreneurs in Amsterdam should look at this as a unique opportunity to explore the business market without much fear of repercussion.


Amsterdam has a surprisingly easy tax structure. The process of starting a business in Amsterdam is simple, with almost story-like descriptions of the process of registering a corporation. Similarly, tax incentives are minimal, but are impressive in their scope.

30% Ruling

The 30% ruling affects highly skilled migrants who move to Amsterdam and are wishing to seek work. Offering a 30% tax reimbursement to the employer, who can then offer the reduction to the employee, this tax program is an extra incentive to seek out skilled workers. As an extension of the program, this offers additional resources to the expat who is seeding camaraderie and feedback. Bringing the tax incentive to the corporate level, the employee is able to retain more of their income, without causing additional headache for the corporation.

Finding ways to generate additional tax incentives for entrepreneurs is another opportunity for the government to encourage entrepreneurs. The development of a startup collaboration that works to provide guidance and resources for entrepreneurs could help increase success of startups, as well as offer insight into the tax strategies of the system. Seeking the advice of a trained tax professional is advisable for foreign companies, primarily to overcome any language barrier and potential misunderstandings.


Establishing a company in Amsterdam is a painless process. The government has established a step-by-step guide to setting up a business designed to walk entrepreneurs through the process. Filing for the proper permits and licenses is simple and easy to understand, however it is recommended that you seek legal counsel to ensure that everything is taken care of properly.

Many resources are available at the government’s startup page, including walking through a business plan, how to choose the right business, contacts to the chamber of commerce and more. Using the provided links give entrepreneurs the basics for getting their company off the ground quickly and begin generating income.

There are a few regulations that govern the establishment of a company by foreigners, and the distinction between work permits are details that may change the type and scope of business a foreigner is allowed to have. Nevertheless, the process is easy and simple to navigate.

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Join our TechStartupJobs Fair Amsterdam 2015 @ Rockstart, Herengracht 182 , 1016BR Amsterdam, Netherlands on Thursday, 30 April 2015 from 18:00 to 21:00 (CEST)


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