During the InnovationQuarter Annual Event, Startup Ambassador Neelie Kroes launched UNIIQ, which is a new investment fund in Zuid-Holland for the proof-of-concept phase of new technologies, for example in the field of security. UNIIQ is an initiative of Erasmus MC, Technical University Delft (TU Delft), Leiden University and the regional development agency InnovationQuarter. The fund assists entrepreneurs in Zuid-Holland to bring innovations faster to market and focuses on academic spin-offs, startups and existing SMEs with disruptive innovations.
Technology does not necessarily mean a business
The new fund amounts to € 22 million, and is available for entrepreneurs who want to bring promising new technologies to market. This is a difficult and risky phase. Technology can indeed be promising, but does not necessarily deliver business opportunities. UNIIQ helps entrepreneurs to create a business out of their innovation.
The launch of UNIIQ matches the approach of Startup Ambassador Neelie Kroes to make The Netherlands one of the best startup ecosystems in Europe, who stated: "In The Netherlands, we have unprecedented numbers of smart startups that take risks and think in new business and social models. They make a difference in the way we pay, travel, stay healthy, grow older, work and learn. Capital is needed to support startups to develop their product, service or business model. It’s fantastic that UNIIQ invests in this important startup growth stage."
UNIIQ combines the expertise and networks of three top universities and a regional development agency, where, on the one hand, universities introduce the necessary technological knowledge, and on the other hand, InnovationQuarter brings market knowledge, as well as an extensive network of private investors. This combination makes the ambition behind UNIIQ credible: Innovations come faster to market.
UNIIQ fills a clear need. Paul Althuis, Director of the TU Delft Valorisation Centre, stated also on behalf of Erasmus MC and Leiden University: "We realise that it is very difficult for academic startups to get venture capital to develop their innovations. The move to venture capital is just too big, and UNIIQ closes this gap."
Rinke Zonneveld, Director of InnovationQuarter, agrees, and stated:"We see many business owners who come to us at an early stage to take advantage of the InnovationQuarter Participation Fund. They are not yet ready for the market. UNIIQ is specifically designed for these entrepreneurs. The fund helps them to bring their innovations to market faster, and strengthens their business case for continued funding.