Academic Startup Competition – 4th Edition – APPLICATIONS OPEN

Dear Founder,

We are excited to announce that the applications for the 4th edition of the Academic Startup Competition are open!

The Academic Startup Competition (ASC) is a joint initiative of Techleap, UNL, NFU, NAE, UTwente, VU and EZK. The competition offers a curated batch of 20 selected academic startups the chance to showcase themselves to an audience of (international) investors and businesses. The startups that are in the race to become one of the best Academic Startups will participate in a unique program of workshops, promotion track and peer to peer learning to help the founders to accelerate the growth and scalability of their business. They will be introduced to the innovation ecosystem, and will be offered the opportunity to develop a network of peers, experts, and mentors.

For whom?

Within the Academic Startup Competition we are mainly interested in startups with solutions falling in one of the following eight broad impact domains:

  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Agriculture, Food & Water
  • Energy transition
  • Sustainability transition (Clean/Carbon/Green/Circular/Climate)
  • Secure Society (Cyber & Physical)
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusive Society
  • Smart Industry (4.0) : more efficient, flexible, and sustainable industrial systems and value chains
  • Smart Urbanisation / Cities

Eligibility criteria

Your company should:

  • Be addressing an industrial, societal or environmental unmet need or creating a new market within the 8 defined technology domains.
  • Be based on a new technology, a scientific discovery, a complex engineering process or a new disruptive systemic process.
  • Not have won the Academic Startup Competition Award in previous editions.
  • Have a registration at the C.o.C. (K.v.K.) that is between 0-3 years.
  • Be composed of a team of at least 2.
  • Be a registered commercial or impact startup originated from scientific knowledge connected to Dutch Universities, University Medical Centers or Research Institutes.
  • Not be a subsidiary or spin-off of an existing company.

What does Academic Startup Competition imply?

For the 20 winners of the competition a support package is available in the first six months of 2024 focusing on the following challenges:  


  1. Mindset Transition (Shifting from thinking like a scientist to thinking like an entrepreneur)
  2. Dare to think BIG
  3. Build your team (Who do you need to reach your goals)


To support the journey of overcoming these three challenges, winners will be offered additional services connected to each challenge:


  • 1-to-1 deep dives with entrepreneurs and experts to identify and sharpen their goals.
  • Peer knowledge-sharing by investors, experienced founders and experts.
  • Sessions with relevant stakeholders who are in power to change systems to help them grow faster.
  • Media coverage and exposure through various channels and events.
  • Joining various (inter) national networking trips and events.
  • Team assessment for the founders by a specialized agency.
  • Executive recruitment support .
  • Access to Global Campus to find the best scientific experts for their scientific board.

Join the competition!

Ready to take the plunge and catalyze the expansion and scalability of your venture? Then we invite you to join our competition. Make sure you apply here before 10 November 2023.

We are looking forward to receiving your application! If you have any questions about the programme or candidate requirements? Feel free to contact for more information or book an info session.

Warm regards,

Arjan Goudsblom, Ruben Habraken & Natasja Marchese