LSH Capital Match: An event where Dutch LSH startups, investors, and academic converge
When Dom Longford decided to build a modern ADHD care system called Cog, he decided to choose Amsterdam and the North Holland region as his base.
At the age of 31, Longford was diagnosed with hyperactivity-type ADHD and received great care in the Netherlands and with Cog, he is trying to turn that care into an app-based solution. Longford is not alone. A diverse group of five human movement scientists at Madglove are building a glove that aims to help stroke patients struggling with hand spasticity. Gerty Holla, Lead Health at the Amsterdam Economic Board, calls it a solution for an unmet medical need and along with ROM InWest, she is trying to support an ecosystem of Dutch life sciences and health startups.
While the Netherlands has always been Europe’s number one hub for life sciences and the health (LSH) sector, the ecosystem is booming with health and medtech startups looking to increase healthy life years and improve care in the healthcare system and investors looking to support them. To further facilitate this connection, ROM InWest is organising a matchmaking event bringing together investors and startups in the LSH sector later this month called LSH Capital Match in collaboration with the Amsterdam Economic Board and Startup Village on November 30, 2023, at Amsterdam Science Park. The admission-only event also counts Rabobank, the University of Amsterdam, VU University Amsterdam, and Amsterdam UMC as partners in the field of impact and entrepreneurship. Without any promotion, 20 investors and 50 startups have registered for the event. “This is a demonstration of the critical mass of the ecosystem,” says Linze Rijswijk of ROM InWest.
The North Holland region has a huge amount of life sciences and health know-how, and LSH Capital Match aims to harness the entrepreneurial spirit to create innovation and impact on society. Holla says the event is needed for sustainable and affordable healthcare in the future.
“This is a topic that is very important for the Amsterdam Economic Board, and all the partners cooperating to organise this event together,” she adds. The event held in cooperation with Invest-NL, Smart Health Amsterdam, and Innovatiefonds Noord-Holland, is also being supported by Startup Amsterdam. Both Holla and Rijswijk explain that they are tapping into the unique advantage of the North Holland region, which is home to the largest university medical centre in the Netherlands. The region also has two academic universities, multiple universities of applied sciences, and many other centres of life sciences and health expertise. “There are in total over 3,000 life sciences organisations within a 32-kilometre radius,” says Holla.
It also helps that the Amsterdam area alone has four innovation districts:
- Amsterdam Life Sciences District with the Amsterdam University Medical Centre
- Amsterdam Zuidas focused on oncology, neurology and medical imaging
- New West Health Innovation District formed around the Netherlands Cancer Institute NKI and Sanquin
- Amsterdam Science Park with its know-how in the fields of AI, data sciences and biomedicine
Holla adds that the region is well-connected and offers plenty of opportunities for collaboration. She says that all the Dutch hubs working together make the Netherlands Europe’s no.1 hub for life sciences and health. Apart from being a well-connected hub for research and innovation, the startups in the region also get support from incubators and investors.
As a matchmaking event, LSH Capital Match will also connect investors to startups and scaleups in the LSH sector while showcasing some successful fundraising deals. For Holla, the real impact of the event will be in its ability to further increase the chances for valorisation of scientific developments in flourishing companies. She says, “LSH Capital Match offers an opportunity for startups and investors to meet each other, to speed up the connections by organising speed dating sessions.” Rijswijk says startups find it difficult to understand the requirements of different investors and it takes time to find the right investor. With LSH Capital Match: The Amsterdam Life Sciences & Health Investor Event, he says startups in the region will get quick access to the most important investors in life science health in the Netherlands.
The registered investors for the event include Value Creation Capital, Borski Fund, Shaping Impact Group, Positron Ventures, Lumo Labs, NextGen Ventures, Innovation Industries, CbusineZ, Holland Capital, Thuja, BGV, Rabobank, Vectrix, Innovatiefonds Noord-Holland, ASIF, ROM InWest and Invest-NL. For startups, the most important thing is to know what it takes to successfully develop a high-tech startup and organise their funding rounds, Rijswijk is certain that LSH Capital Match can help Dutch startups get there.
LSH Capital Match event begins with a plenary session where experienced entrepreneurs will share their learnings on financing. The session will see CEOs of Haermonics, Amsterdam-based Binqy, and North Holland-based AugmedIT share their learnings with Prof. Davide Iannuzzi, Chief Impact Officer of VU University. “Events like this are building blocks in further professional development of the startup ecosystem,” says Rijswijk. This session is followed by another plenary session where investors from Holland Capital, Thuja Capital, BioGeneration Ventures will join Vincent Vierhout, Sr. Investment Manager at ROM InWest to share their insights on what it takes to close a financing round. For tech entrepreneurs at the start of their venture, there is an interesting session being hosted by Arjen Brussaard, Impact Officer of Amsterdam UMC, with executives from UMC Amsterdam spin-out Trianect, Catalyze, the venture builder NLC and UvA AMC HvA Ventures Holding BV.
It is an interesting lineup of speakers and a rather useful subject and Holla says they want the event to be about more than connections they can make. “The startups will benefit by being able to gather experiences and information about building and scaling up their business,” she says. The matchmaking event, which is a parallel session held at 2.30 PM, is dubbed as a practical way to lower the threshold for startups to meet potential investors. “We don’t expect them to go home with a term sheet or a bag of money, but we hope they take home practical advice,” says Holla. Holla says they would like to offer this opportunity to a wide range of companies in various fields like medtech, biotech, prevention and eHealth, and different stages of development.
Both Rijswijk and Holla agree they select startups with a good team, sustainable business model, potential to make a significant impact, and a desire to solve an unmet medical need. Holla adds, “The companies should be interesting for the investors that will be present.”
Transition to a different healthcare system
On January 1, 2022, the population of the European Union was estimated at 446.7 million and more than one-fifth of the population was aged 65 and above. The median age of the EU population has also seen an increase with half of the population being older than 44.4 years.
With consistently low birth rates and higher life expectancy, the shape of the EU’s age pyramid has transformed completely with the proportion of people of working age shrinking while the relative number of those retired expanding in the coming decades. Due to continuously rising healthcare costs, an ageing population, and a lack of personnel, healthcare is facing an important social challenge.
Rijswijk says without intervention, healthcare costs in the Netherlands will double by 2040 and 1 in 4 Dutch people would work in healthcare. He says, “We also want to live healthier and longer, in a society with fewer health differences between people with different socioeconomic backgrounds.” To achieve this, he sees a clear need for transition to a different healthcare system where the focus of treatment shifts to prevention. Rijswijk and Holla see a healthy living environment necessary to improve broad prosperity in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area and to attract the necessary talent. They see North Holland has a strong knowledge and healthcare ecosystem at an international level. The region also does not lack when it comes to entrepreneurship in the field of digitalisation, including the Internet of things and artificial intelligence. Through LSH Capital Match, they see an opportunity to take this internationally renowned life sciences knowledge and bring it to higher impact.
Text: Karthek Iyer