All Stars celebrate 10th anniversary of Young Business Award
  • Partnerships

All Stars celebrate 10th anniversary of Young Business Award

What began as a "showcase for the region" grew into an event of stature for all of the Netherlands. The Young Business Award is celebrating its tenth anniversary. The companies occupying the All Stars episode tomorrow demonstrate the growth and potential of the Award, but more importantly of the participants.

Chordify, Amberscript, CodeSandbox and Greener Power Solutions will climb the stage for another pitch tomorrow. During the All Stars edition of the Young Business Award (YBA), they will determine who is the most successful or promising startup in the history of the Award. Constantijn van Oranje and Lusanne Tehupuring present the live show at De Oosterpoort in Groningen. Thijs Verheul (United Wardrobe) and Rutger Teunisssen (24Sessions) make fascinating keynote contributions.

That's a nice list of former finalists and winners of the YBA, which produced many more great things in recent years. From regional upstarts to national promises. On stages in the North first, on television and streaming service later.

It seems like an eternity ago, that first edition of the Young Business Award in Emmen, which was then called Jong Business Award by the way. The world was still a little different. There was not much focus on startups in the Northern Netherlands. Training programs, accelerators, networking, they were still in their infancy.

How it can be done

''That was the main reason for us to organize the Award,'' says Niels Palmers. He was the driving force behind the YBA all those years. And still is. ''At the time, I ran into the fact that there was very little. I was going pretty fast with my startup Taxi Culinair, and I needed like-minded people, good examples. Because there weren't many in the region, we brought them here, mainly from Amsterdam. It seemed a good idea to show the region how things could be done.

At the time, Anne-Wil Lucas put a lot of energy as a member of parliament into the manifesto Startup NL, intended to improve the business climate for startups in the Netherlands. ,,Back then you only saw a startup scene in Amsterdam really. But we thought it was important to support such ecosystems in the Netherlands. Looking back now, you can say: we succeeded quite well. But we're not there yet. Some of the 43 points from the Manifesto have still not been achieved,'' says the Innovation and Internationalization Manager at NOM.
A lot of them are, too. That you are allowed to graduate in your own company, for example. ''I did that too, but I had to move heaven and earth to get that done,'' Palmers knows. In education, the focus on startups and entrepreneurship has grown tremendously in ten years. Minors have sprung up, support measures for student entrepreneurs, master classes and more.


The YBA may have had its share of that, although Palmers is modest about it. ,,The focus on entrepreneurship has increased, there is more validation, the system has become more mature. Certainly also in Drenthe. And that's where we started with the Award. We drew attention to the importance of entrepreneurship and having boosters and good examples. Maybe that helped with getting everything moving.''

The world has changed. Explaining what a startup is no longer necessary. That was different ten years ago. Anne-Wil Lucas: ,,Back then we were really busy explaining why policy was needed to promote the startup climate. The importance was not clear to everyone. Now we talk about other things, about further strengthening the ecosystem, for example. But also about taking a critical look at which measures have helped and which haven't. I think that's growing up.''

From the event at FC Emmen stadium then, to the television series with 800,000 viewers now. The YBA has kept pace with the growth process of the startup scene. ''What I find especially clever,'' says Anne-Wil Lucas , ''is that after a few years the event jumped over its own shadow and decided to add startups from the rest of the country as well. But always organized in the North. Because of that move, the YBA has become more than just another award.''