We talked to Liduina Hammer, Head of Capital at Innovation Quarter, the regional economic development agency for the province of Zuid-Holland. Their mission is to make investments today that will change the world of tomorrow. Find out how Liduina entered the startup world, what lessons for founders she shared with us and what she predicts for the Dutch startup ecosystem in the near future.
1. Hi Liduina, thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you entered the startup world?
After graduating from the University of Amsterdam, I started my career at APG asset management, a totally different animal. However, at that time I was introduced to Frank, who was starting his own venture capital firm. We worked together for two years in setting up the fund. In 2010 INKEF Capital was founded and I started as an associate as employee number 3. That’s how my career in the startup world started. In 2016 I became the fund manager of UNIIQ. This fund focuses on investment in the proof-of-concept phase. The fund was set up by a consortium of Erasmus MC, TU Delft, Leiden University and the regional development agency InnovationQuarter. By the end of 2019, I became head of capital at InnovationQuarter.
2. You’re the Head of Capital at Innovation Quarter, the regional economic development agency for the province of Zuid-Holland. Tell us about your mission there!
We want to make investments today that will change the world of tomorrow. With our three funds UNIIQ, ENERGIIQ and IQCapital, we invest in sectors like – but not limited to – life sciences and health, high tech, cybersecurity and cleantech, both in startups and scaleups. As we have enough dry powder and a long investment horizon, we are able to invest for the long run. Entrepreneurs want to focus on growing their business, and we can be the partner for the long run. The financial return is important, but if a company doesn’t contribute to our society in a positive way we won’t invest. Making an impact is key.
One of the great things of InnovationQuarter is that we can tap into the knowledge and network of our colleagues from other teams. In this way, we can provide more than just financial resources.
3. Where does your interest in innovative companies come from? What is it about the startup world that particularly attracts you?
I have always been interested in technologies and ‘inventions’. As a child I was very curious about how things were created; from medicines to cars, from computers to aeroplanes. When it comes to the startup world it’s a combination of being around smart people, the hard work, the failures, the successes, the community, the vibe… It’s really hard to express just one thing that attracts me.
4. What are the top lessons for founders you would share with our readers?
- Take enough time to validate your product, before raising larger funding rounds to scale
- If you have a good product-market fit, then you can truly focus on scaling your company
- Hire in line with your ambition, and surround yourself with people you can learn from
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
5. What’s the next big thing in the startup world? What do you predict for the Dutch startup ecosystem in the near future?
That’s a good one. I am not a trendwatcher or guru. We see that the development of technologies like Quantum, AI and photonics is progressing very fast in Europe. In the Netherlands, we have some very promising deep tech companies. Where it goes I don’t know. I won’t be surprised if we are on the brink of something impressive: Dutch-based technologies that will become worldwide game-changers. To reach this, we need more long-term investors with very deep pockets to fund these highly innovative companies from the startup to the scaleup phase.
Thank you very much for your insights, Liduina! We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.
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