Read in: Nederlands
Under the roof of Epicenter, a community of start-ups, scale-ups and established companies is working side by side, inspiring and learning from one another, pushing innovations and growth. Epicenter opened its doors more than a year ago, so we were wondering what it is like to actually work there. And how do companies benefit from this digital innovation house? Four members tell us about the added value of Epicenter.
“The first time I walked in here, the paint was still wet but it felt like the lobby of a five-star hotel. We decided on the spot that we wanted an office here”, David Kat remembers his first encounter with Epicenter. He was looking for a workplace in Amsterdam as three months earlier he and his business partner had decided to introduce their Israel-based start-up Wasteless to the Dutch market.
“Epicenter is perfectly located: close to Schiphol Airport and within the A10 ring road. From here, it’s only 10 minutes by bicycle to the city centre. And the building is very sustainable. Wasteless uses artificial intelligence to provide supermarkets with dynamic pricing for their products, with digital tags displaying a smart price incentive on the product with the shortest expiration date. This way, the 500 million euros worth of goods that Dutch supermarkets discard on a yearly basis, can instead be sold and turned into a revenue stream. As these products don’t end up in a landfill site, this leads to a considerable reduction in carbon dioxide emissions as well. We bring our customers profitable sustainability, so it makes sense that we hold office in a sustainable and smart building.”
Sunken sitting area
Like so many others, David started in the open office space at Epicenter. He and his business partner worked from the sunken sitting area and this really helped them to meet all kinds of interesting people. In the meantime, Wasteless has grown into a team of 4 people and often gets visitors from abroad, so they decided to move into a studio.
The flexible staffing options are a big plus for many members, confirms Michel Spruijt of Brain Corp Europe. “We look 90 days ahead and adapt our staffing plans for Brain Corp Europe accordingly. At the moment, I’m the only one here but by the end of this year we could well have 12 people at this location”, he says. In July, Michel started setting up the European branch of American-bases Brain Corp, a company developing software for machines (e.g. cleaning robots) navigating autonomously in public spaces.
“Developments are going very fast and we’re adjusting our plans all the time. We need to be able to act swiftly as we want to be the Microsoft of autonomous navigation and robotics. If I need more staff tomorrow, I simply get a subscription for them and they can start working right away; that’s the flexibility I require’.”
For Antler, a start-up generator and venture capital fund with a global mission to help driven people set up ground-breaking businesses, scalability is a requirement and crucial to the way they operate, explains Kim Oreskovic. “Our basic team consists of 11 employees; we rent a meeting room for them and use the open co-working space. When a new programme starts, we’ll get in another 100 people for two months. In that period, we help start-ups form teams in order to build up their business from scratch.”
“These teams pitch their plan to the Antler investment committee and then around 40 founders will stay on at Epicenter for another 3 months during the follow-up phase. That works out very well here, because there is a good mix of open and confined spaces of various sizes. What’s extra special, is the positive and creative vibe in this place. There is so much room to meet people, but at the same time the acoustics is so good that you can have a good conversation without others hearing what you’re saying.”
Scaling up without any hassle is also one of the advantages Katinka de Korte of DEARhealth mentions. “We started out three months ago with four people, now we are a team of fifteen and before Christmas there’ll be 25 of us”, she explains her need for flexibility. The international Epicenter locations have proved a big bonus for her company as well.
“DEARhealth is a digital platform that connects all carers of a patient with the actual patient. And using Artificial Intelligence it presents the most accurate care path for the patient by, amongst other things, steering the patient away from predictable risks. This way, medical teams are getting support in their decision-making regarding treatment. As a result, patients are healthier and care costs are significantly lower”, Katinka explains. This system has been developed with the help of a team of medical specialists in the US. With the support of its investors, DEARhealth will be scaling up in the US and will start implementing programmes in Europe in the next two years.
“This summer we started in Dutch and Belgian hospitals, and the next priority on our list is Sweden because of the country’s innovative healthcare system. When I told that to the staff here at Epicenter Amsterdam, they immediately put me in contact with their branch in Sweden. That helped me tremendously as the Swedish office opened a box with index cards and I was introduced to various companies. Moreover, together with people from Epicenter Amsterdam I went on a business trip to Epicenter Stockholm, where start-ups from both countries were pitching plans to each other. Offering people these opportunities is what makes Epicenter so unique. Their team knows all Epicenter members personally, they know what your ambition is and they often ask: ‘Is this connection useful to you?’ That really helps.”
David Kat is also very happy with the Epicenter team. “I appreciate the fact that they’re not only very nice and professional people, but they also think along with us. When our guests come in, they are welcomed in a pleasant and dedicated manner; that builds trust.” Michel Spruijt adds that the atmosphere in the building and between companies makes it even better. “It’s always busy here – in a good sense, the place buzzes.”
Douwe Dirks, the manager of Epicenter Amsterdam, is happy to hear that Epicenter is such an attractive business partner for so many companies. “Innovating and growing is a lot easier when you’re part of the right community. We are that community and we do everything we can to connect people and help them share their knowledge. We like building a strong business environment for Amsterdam where local companies get the chance to learn and new digital opportunities arise.”
Epicenter Amsterdam offers:
Top-of-the-line event spaces
Meeting room facilities
Innovation Labs & Digital Safaris
Hackathons & Ideathons
Fred. Roeskestraat 115
Read in: Nederlands