Prince Constantijn: ‘a StartupDelta doesn’t have to come from the government’

Prince Constantijn Van Oranje-Naussau, an advisor at the European Commission and more recently one of the main initiators of StartupFest Europe, turned to entrepreneurs when he saw that they make innovation happen. “I am very inspired by the can do mentality of entrepreneurs", says the younger brother of the current Dutch monarch, King Willem-Alexander in this interview with StartupJuncture.

"In governments there are a lot of mechanisms to make sure that things don’t happen. Entrepreneurs are actually doing something and building things", says the Prince at co-working space B.Amsterdam at the outskirts of Amsterdam.

Constantijn has been a long time official at the European Commission. Most lately as the Head of the Cabinet of the EU Commissionaire for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes. "I felt that we were trying to reinvent the wheel too much", he says about the tendency of public organizations to spend a lot resources on research about how innovation can be promoted. "So instead, we went to the entrepreneurs themselves” – already innovative and service oriented.

StartupFest

A focus on enabling entrepreneurs and startups to do what they do best is what guides Constantijn’s current efforts in the Dutch startup ecosystem. To date, these have culminated in the organization of StartupFest Europe. An event set up with the support of Jim Stolze and Neelie Kroes of StartupDelta – that aims to celebrate Dutch and European entrepreneurship. But also to forge connections between startups, investors and the captains of global tech industry, such as Tim Cook, Travis Kalanick and Eric Schmidt.

In this interview Constantijn talks about the Dutch startup ecosystem, its similarities with the Netherlands during the Golden Age, and Silicon Valley.  In general The Netherlands is "punching well above its weight", he says. But challenges lie ahead as well.

Why is entrepreneurship important?

"In politics there is a lot of talk, but entrepreneurs actually build things, develop new businesses, drive innovation and create jobs. That’s why entrepreneurship is important and that’s why we have to stimulate entrepreneurship in the Netherlands if we want to be competitive in the long run."

How can entrepreneurship be stimulated?

"In a number of ways. For instance by incorporating entrepreneurship more into our education system. It’s not a given that every talented individual becomes an entrepreneur. It’s important to inspire and support people that have a knack for entrepreneurship at an early age. The overall regulatory environment should furthermore be more favourable towards entrepreneurship. Right now it’s over-regulated. Other obvious things like the influx of capital to entrepreneurs and a supportive banking system are also needed for the promotion of entrepreneurship."

Read the full interview on StartupJuncture

Image credit: Peter van Beek