To be honest I had never heard before about the festival about the future of Groningen called Let’s Gro, that took place already for the fourth time this year (9-12 November 2016). Four days to learn about special projects of people from Groningen, the future of innovations and entrepreneurship, and of Groningen itself. But on 10 November I noticed a local newspaper announcement on Twitter about Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands coming to Groningen the next day. I ordered a free ticket for the event online and luckily I had nothing really important to do on Friday afternoon.
From 2pm to 4pm in the afternoon the event “Startups, Think Big!” took place in a tent at the Grote Markt in the middle of the city. Fast pitches, inspiration and two keynote speakers: the American investor Ray Quintana (general partner at the Cottonwood Investment Fund) and Constantijn van Oranje. Prince Constantijn is the special envoy of StartupDelta since 1 July 2016. He took over from his former boss at the European Commission in Brussels, Neelie Kroes, who put the Netherlands on the map as a leading area for startups. Constantijn was chosen as “he has a wealth of experience in the European and international area” it was said in May 2016. He said at the time he wishes to improve the connections between startups and universities, and stressed that StartupDelta should expand to countries like France and Germany. He studied law and worked for the European Commission in Brussels, the Dutch foreign ministry and RAND Europe.
Not that I know much about startups etc., but the event was surely not as boring as I thought it would be. Good speakers, humor (the Prince even joked about the colour orange, as an orange cube microphone was kicked and thrown through the tent) and of course a Prince who clearly knew all about the subject he was to speak about. Unfortunately I missed the press conference before the event, as it was not in the programme and nobody had answered my mail of the previous day. According to local news pages he announced there that the Rijksuniversiteit and the Hanzehogeschool Groningen (the University of Groningen and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences) will soon have a master for entrepreneurs, where students learn how to become an entrepreneur. During his keynote speech he said: “The students of various educations can learn how to set up a company, how to develop a business and how to use your chances on the market.” There are many start ups in Groningen it seems and according to Prince Constantijn there is a lot happening in the city, but one should look further and connect with for example Bremen or Hamburg in Germany, or even further in the world. He also pointed out that there are still many more male than female entrepreneurs, which of course should change. He by the way joked that many Americans don’t really know where Amsterdam is and probably think Amsterdam is the capital of Copenhagen. He told that when his brother studied in the USA (he meant his late brother Prince Friso) someone actually said to him, you’re the guy from the republic of Copenhagen, right? Of course Friso had a good laugh, and said not really …
At the end of the event there were free drinks and even some food. Who knows I might have a better look at the events next year. I end with a small video I took yesterday.