ACE Incubator was named #1 Incubator by Emerce100 in the category “Venture”.
“We came in first and that’s something we want to celebrate. Furthermore, it’s an excellent opportunity to explain to the IT-sector what it is that we do here.”
ACE director Erik Boer
In its five years of existence, ACE has helped more than 100 projects go from initial concept to startup. Boer: “We are a university incubator. That means that we support researchers and students of all Amsterdam-based knowledge institutes when they venture out from their research to start a company.”
Out of all the applications, ACE selects twenty ideas per year for the Incubation Program. The candidates are intensively guided for three months, and learn to translate their technical project into an economic business model. The program also assists them in looking for clients and partners.
KLM as a launching customer
In 2015 Bart Vredebregt participated in the program with his company Aiir Innovations. About his time at ACE he says: “It’s funny how it turned out. I was a master student Artificial Intelligence when I first had to develop an AI tool for my studies. KLM asked where they could buy the tool and we, as students, replied that we would be able to build it for them. But as we soon realized, there was a lot more to it than just developing the technology. That’s when KLM introduced us to ACE. We quickly learned how to run a company and it really helped us take Aiir to the next level. You have to see it like this: as a tech expert you tend to know little about running a business. For us, ACE was really a crash course. The program has helped us tremendously.
Pile of gold
“At ACE, we create many partnerships with large companies”, says Boer. “These partnerships are incredibly valuable for us and our participants. For startups the program is free. They only pay us back if and when they are successful: a success fee. Their success if therefore also our success.”
ACE is part of UvA Ventures Holding. Director Peter Krijnsen notes that ACE is following a trend that is currently already happening in the United States and the UK. “Increasingly more professors there have experience with starting one or more spin-offs. I think that we are moving towards that here in the Netherlands as well.” According to Krijnsen, ACE is playing a stimulating part in changing the mindset of knowledge institutes.
A number-one position, that’s what ACE is planning to maintain in the coming years. Boer: “This is not an incident. Amsterdam is catching up. The city has a huge high-quality research base. There’s great potential that we can tap into. That pile of gold that we’re currently sitting on, has by far not been fully extracted yet.”
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