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The recent announcement of the birth of the first Dutch Deep Tech investment fund by Invest-NL is an important turning point. After all, this is not about funding fast software growth companies, but rather the start-ups and scale-up companies we call deep tech, for which the hardware component is an important one.

It marks the new attention to and importance of entrepreneurship in the Dutch manufacturing industry. The best and most beautiful example of the high added value of a high-tech company is chip machine manufacturer ASML, which is now the largest company in Europe measured by market capitalization. For years, we have wanted to create a ‘BSML’ or ‘CSML’ with as much added value as their great example.

Forward! Columns Maarten Steinbuch Carlo van de Weijer
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The new deep-tech fund is aimed at larger investment tickets and a longer horizon. And that is important, also for Dutch start-ups and scale-ups in the field of mobility. Time and again, it turns out that financing is sought abroad. Our pension funds, for example, have invested no less than 1600 billion euros, but unfortunately hardly any in our own start-up companies. It’s time we sought out the pearls and gave them the opportunity to grow in the Netherlands.

For example, in this series, we have regularly spoken with pride about Lightyear with its solar car, about Ebusco with its fully electric buses and about Fastned and EVBOX, and also ABB, which, based on a Dutch start-up, is now a global leader in the supply of fast chargers. But we also mentioned Tiler, with a charging tile for bicycles, and the start-ups in the field of the very latest battery technology, such as LeydenJar, Delft IMP, and LionVolt. Of course, Eleo, with battery systems for off-highway vehicles, Hardt Hyperloop, and the automatic charging robots at Rocsys and Prodrive, among others, also fit into this list.

In addition, we have previously given attention to electric flying, and there too investment patience is important. The start-up Venturi Aviation is an example of such a just-started deep-tech company.

A new start-up I recently came across is the Belgian-Dutch company Classified Cycling. They have made a revolutionary invention for a gear hub for bicycles, that allows you to shift gears while continuing to apply power. The idea, called PowerShift, could well turn the professional cycling world on its head, because of the time savings when it really matters. Former world cycling champions Anna van der Breggen, André Greipel, and Marcel Kittel are among their new investors.

Even amateur cyclists or gravel riders can already upgrade their bikes with this technology. For electric bikes, shifting under load is the holy grail, which is why Classified is also working on applying this technology for e-bikes. The idea for the hub was conceived by CTO Roëll van Druten, once a PhD student with a clever invention to improve the shifting of the continuously variable transmission for cars.

Investing in deep-tech mobility helps to create a sustainable world thanks to entrepreneurship. When funding is concerned, it’s a good thing to become less dependent on foreign countries for our own pearls. There’s more than enough of them!

Maarten Steinbuch and Carlo van de Weijer are alternately writing this weekly column, originally published (in Dutch) in FD. Did you like it? There’s more to enjoy: a new book with a selection of these columns has been published by 24U and distributed by Lecturis.

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