The vibrant startup community of Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe

Startups coming to the North of the Netherlands are finding a thriving community of like-minded entrepreneurs that are working on exciting business ventures, many of which make the world a better place.



Max Papo from Founded in Groningen, a municipality-led initiative to help entrepreneurs, told Make it in the North that they are currently focusing on three main pillars:

  • Access to talent
  • Access to the market
  • Access to capital

Max thinks of Groningen as a large village where many people know each other and are rather helpful. It’s common for the established entrepreneurs to try and help newcomers to grow their business. Groningen is also a popular student city which could prove useful to startups aiming to recruit local and international students.

It’s common for the established entrepreneurs to try and help newcomers to grow their business.

Max Papo
Max Papo Founded in Grorningen

Below are some links to get you started in Groningen

Overall, Max says that a number of startups are maturing over the years which leads to a growing startup scene. And although the situation is always evolving, it still is aiming to improve.

Next we spoke with Bertwin Kampman who is the Public Lead of Founded in Friesland, another municipality-led initiative to help entrepreneurs.


Bertwin says the startup ecosystem in Friesland is developing well, especially when compared to the fragmented situation in the past. He also said that while things are more centralised in Groningen, startups are more spread out in Friesland.

Friesland is currently focusing on digital startups, water-technology, agricultural innovations, and the circular economy.

Bertwin explained that startups can expect to find a support system in Friesland for all phases of development.

Below are some links to get you started in Friesland.


Lastly we also heard from Dènis Assen who is the owner of Growing Emmen, an entrepreneurial community. 

Dènis is in charge of taking care of the community which is approximately 220 members strong. They’re mainly entrepreneurs who are at various stages of their respective projects. He says that the community, where people know each other by name, is even closer than that in Groningen.

Within this network there are business developers, finance teams, coaches, and access to capital available. It’s based in a campus 100m away from the central bus station and has co-working spaces available. 

According to Dènis, Drenthe is currently focusing on ‘green chemistry’. However, Growing Emmen, which is a private initiative, isn’t focusing solely on one area and embraces diversity. 

Dènis noticed that internationals can become quite lonely and tackled the issue by organising frequent social events with an emphasis on having fun. He views fun as central to a successful business. Every last Thursday of the month is being dedicated as an international day for English speakers.

Below are some links to get you started in Emmen: