InnovationQuarter helps start-ups to innovate and invest

“We are helping to narrow the gap from idea to practice.”


Anyone wanting to get a Life Sciences & Health innovation onto the market as a starter cannot do without funds or subsidies. InnovationQuarter helps companies to innovate and invest so that they can continue to grow. “There is plenty of money available, but sometimes it's hard to find the right money”, says Lonneke Baas , Senior Business Developer Life Sciences & Health


InnovationQuarter is the regional development company of Zuid-Holland. The organisation's task is to sustainably strengthen the economic structure and innovative capacity of the Zuid-Holland region. InnovationQuarter does this by, among other things, financing innovative and fast-growing companies, assisting foreign companies to establish themselves in Zuid-Holland and organising cooperation between innovative entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes and the government. InnovationQuarter is an enterprise with public shareholders, including the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the municipality of Rotterdam.


LSH sector important

Lonneke Baas is Senior Business Developer Life Sciences & Health at InnovationQuarter. “Life sciences and health is an important sector for us”, she says. “We make a large part of our investments in this sector. That's not surprising when you see what's happening in this field in South Holland. With Erasmus University, Delft University of Technology and Leiden University, we have top universities. And with Erasmus MC and LUMC we have top academic hospitals. That's where an awful lot of innovations come from. LUMC with the Leiden BioScience Park is particularly strong in biotechnical solutions such as the development of medicines and vaccines. From Delft and Rotterdam, on the other hand, there are more crossovers between technological and medical solutions. We try to bring those disciplines together.”



Many innovations start as startups. For those companies, financing is indispensable to take the next step. InnovationQuarter helps startups on their way in the wonderful world of funds and subsidies. “Sometimes it's enough to point out the places where subsidy calls can be made”, says Baas. “But most of the time we have a good conversation to find out where the real need lies. Sometimes it's in the field of knowledge. Then we bring such a startup into contact with a professor or entrepreneurs who have set up businesses before. Sometimes the need lies in product development. Then we look in our large network for companies that can take that specific product a step further. It is clear that the overall picture has to be right: your innovation has to be used in practice, but also at the right cost. These are interesting paths.”


Perfect match

Start-ups often involve financing issues. “There is sufficient money available for life sciences start-ups”, continues Baas, “but sometimes it's hard to find the right money.” She gives an example. “Imagine that you have come up with a solution for elderly people with dementia. You go to the website of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and see that four subsidy calls are open. Yes, you think so. But with the first call, the condition is that your product has already been proven at two care institutions. With the second call, you will only receive a subsidy if you have a solution for informal care, whereas you had just thought of something for the nursing staff. And so on. So the subsidy pot really has to match your idea. As a result, you are either delayed - because you first have to prove your product - or you have to adjust your idea. And often both. All in all, you spend eight years in this sector before your solution is fully developed and certified. And all that time, you have to pay for everything.”


Venture capital

“Another solution could be to look for venture capital. But often an innovation in the beginning is too small for investors to step in. Or the starting entrepreneur himself does not want to relinquish control”, says Baas. “That's why InnovationQuarter invests in innovative ideas and businesses itself. The organisation is a so-called lifecycle investor and can invest from an early stage. This is done from the proof-of-concept fund UNIIQ. If appropriate, InnovationQuarter can provide further growth capital from its own fund IQCapital. Through the proof-of-concept fund, early-stage startups can borrow up to three tons to take their product or business case one step further.”


Boss: “We often see that investors are interested in investing after they have achieved a successful proof-of-concept. Through the IQCapital fund, we have eighty million euros available for investments in start-ups and scale-ups. We often invest on a co-financing basis, together with a private party. If we invest half a million euros in something, that private party does at least the same. In this way, we both attract extra capital to the region and strengthen the financial basis for entrepreneurs. So that their business can take the necessary next step in development and growth.”


Opportunities for West

A subsidy programme used by many LSH companies is Opportunities for West. This is the joint subsidy programme of North and South Holland, Utrecht and Flevoland and is the result of a subsidy from the European Union aimed at digitisation and greening. “The jar for the last round is empty, but a new round is coming up”, says Baas. “We'll have to wait and see what specific direction is chosen. The focus of the last round was on the so-called field labs. Whichever way it goes, it's nice that the EU is investing in our region. We are going to make the best possible use of the opportunities that this offers, together with businesses, governments and healthcare institutions.”


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