Oost NL Director Capital Chimwemwe de Gaay Fortman: ‘With close friends LUMO Labs, we build on the funding ecosystem around Tech and AI’

Interview with Chimwemwe de Gaay Fortman - Director Capital Oost NL

With our second Draper’s Silicon Fall Pitch Prize event coming up 5 July at High Tech Campus Eindhoven, we queried Oost NL Director of Capital Chimwemwey de Gaay Fortman about Oost NL’s participation as well as her thoughts about how the Netherlands and Silicon Valley align.

Oost NL, the economic-development agency for the east of the Netherlands, holds about €600 million in funds for early-stage investing in startups in Gelderland and Overijssel provinces.

“The funds we use are what we call ‘revolving,’ so any income from exits can go to new promising startups,” de Gaay Fortman said.

LUMO Labs – This is the second time the Draper event is being organized. Why is Oost NL willing to join the Draper Pitch Prize Competition as a partner?

CdGF – We’re close “friends” with LUMO Labs. Together, we build on the funding ecosystem around Tech and AI – to help develop promising startups. For Oost NL, it’s also a chance to promote regional startups from the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel. East Netherlands has a strong ecosystem around universities and knowledge institutions, and they generate interesting spin-offs. Those institutions specialize in key technologies – and med-tech, bio-tech, AI and Ag/Food-Tech.

LUMO Labs – Draper University is in Silicon Valley and attached to early-stage U.S. investor Tim Draper. The pitch winner on 5 July will get a ticket to the Hero Training program to be trained in a period of five weeks. How important do you believe the U.S. perspective is for Dutch Startups? How important is it that your organization and your region are interlinked with Silicon Valley?

CdGF – Tim Draper is an inspiring front-runner in our sector with an impressive track record. It’s a great opportunity be a partner in the Draper Pitch Prize competition. The prize is participation in the Hero Training, a great opportunity for startups to learn more about entrepreneurship. They have an impressive track record if you look at the alumni of the

program. They offer an extensive program.

Silicon Valley is a very inspiring environment for startups. The “Think Big” attitude is something we can learn from. In terms of scale, it’s simply a lot bigger than the Netherlands, so it increases your chances of meeting the right people to further develop your business. The U.S. is a big market for tech companies when they start focusing on sales.

What is your message to all the startups out there? Why should they join?

CdGF  – It’s always good to pitch your business proposition. It’s a great opportunity to get feedback from a professional jury. And, of course, the reward is high even if you don’t make it as a finalist. It helps to build your leadership skills and team spirit.