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Annie Chen

ScaleUpNation, FoodValley and Rabobank partner to boost food and agri scale-ups

ScaleUpNation, FoodValley and Rabobank partner to boost food and agri scale-ups

Amsterdam/Utrecht/Wageningen, The Netherlands: ScaleUpNation, Foodvalley NL and Rabobank announced today the launch of ScaleUpFood: a comprehensive support program dedicated to scaling entrepreneurial ventures in food and agriculture.

“Climate change, global population size and waste – are all opportunities for innovative, technology-driven enterprises throughout the value chain”, says Menno van Dijk, founder of ScaleUpNation. “Though many startups are launching and exist for some years, only those that scale will move the needle in terms of impact and economic value creation.”

Research by ScaleUpNation shows that less than 1% of early stage companies make it to $10 million annual revenues within 5 years. Scaling can be even more challenging in food and agriculture. The agrifood sector differs from other with respect to innovation speed and implementation due to growing seasons, long sales cycles, conservative customers and complicated regulation.

Though the Netherlands has historically been a center of food innovation, this future is far from guaranteed – investment in innovative early stage companies lags behind other countries and too few of our young, promising food and agri companies manage to scale.

“In food and agri the Netherlands has always been scale-up country, testimony our position of 2nd largest food exporter in the world. But many products have commoditized”, says Roger van Hoesel, Director FoodValley NL.  “This partnership will create a new wave of food and agri scale-ups focused on technology and sustainability.”

Jeroen Leffelaar, Managing Director, Rabobank Food and Agri Innovation, says that “current food production systems are simply unsustainable, even with today’s population. The need for true innovation in the food & agri value chain is bigger than ever before. Many leading food & ag corporates are realizing that fine tuning of their existing research and development may no longer be sufficient to keep up. If we wish to turn today’s new ideas and technologies into tomorrow’s game-changing solutions, we need to support the most promising early stage companies in scaling to disrupt a traditional and inefficient industry”.  Rogier Raaijmakers, Head of Rabobank Direct Investments, adds: “The Netherlands is a frontrunner in innovation, but clearly lagging in access to sufficient scale-up capital. With our networks, expertise and capital, we are fully committed to strengthen the global F&A innovation ecosystem, as well as the Dutch ecosystem around innovation and fast growing companies. The ScaleUpFood initiative clearly fits this ambition and we are determined to make it a success.”

ScaleUpFood will address venture scaling challenges first by carrying out ongoing fact-based research to uncover the success factors of global food and agri scale-up companies. Then, the invite-only support program starting in October addresses areas specific to food and agri scale-ups like strategic selling to large corporates, specialized finance, and data driven business model extensions. The program engages top Dutch corporates and innovative mid-caps for collaboration with the scale-ups. After the program, qualified ventures will be invited for longer term tailored support, collaboration opportunities and access to series-B level funding.

Anieke Wieringa, Director of ScaleUpFood, explains “Entrepreneurs who have made it to the scale-up stage in food and agri are the best of the best. But what got them here will not get them to the next level. We’re looking forward to unlocking significant growth opportunities with our first class this fall.”

About ScaleUpNation

ScaleUpNation supports young innovative companies to grow – specifically those that manage to combine a large social impact with attractive financial return. With the research lab, practice and investment focus, ScaleUpNation has supported over 100 Dutch impact scale-ups to date.

About Rabobank

Rabobank strongly believes that ground breaking startups and scale-ups in the food & ag value chain can help to nourish the world more sustainably. By offering pre-seed and venture capital through (captive) investment funds and the creation of platforms such as FoodBytes!, F&A Next and TERRA Accelerator and ScaleUpFood going forward, the bank leverages its global network and industry knowledge for thought leadership and strategic engagement with the best early stage companies, investors and innovative corporates.

About FoodValley

Foodvalley is the primary knowledge-intensive agrifood ecosystem in the Netherlands. Characterized by many world class innovative agrifood and food-related solutions and by the cooperation between companies, knowledge and educational institutions and governments with amongst others: Wageningen University and Research, FrieslandCampina Innovation Center, Unilever’s Global Foods Innovation Centre and many innovative food and agri companies. ScaleUpFood completes the support for startups and scaleups in the Foodvalley ecosystem:

  • StartLife helps startups and students with an innovative business idea grow into a successful startup through the incubation program, financing and coaching.
  • BOX (Blue Ocean XLerator) is an accelerator for startups in food, agri and life sciences focused on sustainable breakthrough technology.
  • Foodvalley Accelerator helps scaleups with a scalable product or service and a turnover of at least € 100,000 to grow to € 1 million turnover.
  • ScaleUpFood is a research, support and investment initiative for scaleups with a turnover of at least € 1 million turnover.

Foodvalley NL accelerates innovation, business development and growth by connecting companies to knowledge and educational institutes and government. Foodvalley NL works on speeding up the innovation performance of companies, both from the Netherlands and abroad.

Welcome Samir Saberi!

We’re excited that Samir Saberi has joined ScaleUpNation as our Commercial Director, focused on sales, marketing and business development. In this role, Samir will be responsible for helping build and communicate the ScaleUpNation vision and mission to impact founders, their board members and the greater scale-up community.

A well-known figure in the Dutch start-up and scale-up ecosystem, previously Samir was a member of the founding team of StartupDelta under the leadership of former EU commissioner Neelie Kroes and an advisor on startup ecosystem development friendly policies in Europe. Before that, he had a stint as managing director of a fast-growing SME company, served as strategy and innovation consultant at Node1 and co-founded the premium Dutch startup blog StartupJuncture. He’s currently a board member of the Dutch Startup Association and as an advisor to Braventure he supports the growth of the Brabant startup ecosystem.

Samir on becoming a part of the ScaleUpNation Family: “ScaleUpNation believes that large social challenges are as much large entrepreneurial opportunities, but only enterprises that scale are able to move the needle in terms of impact. I couldn’t agree more! Over the years I have come to trust that the most effective way to drive impactful change is through fostering entrepreneurship. ScaleUpNation epitomizes the belief that entrepreneurs are indeed people that can change the world for the better. I am trilled, honored, humbled and inspired to, as member of the ScaleUpNation family, be able to contribute to the Dutch and ultimately global tech ecosystem in such a significant way. My message to founding teams is: entrepreneurship and especially scaling your company is hard, very hard. But you’re not alone. We are here to help!”

Please help us welcome Samir to the ScaleUpNation Family! You can reach him at and on LinkedIn.

About ScaleUpNation:

Only 0.4 of startups scale to a scale-up. Our mission at ScaleUpNation is to increase that number to drive considerable impact. Large social challenges are as much large entrepreneurial opportunities, but only enterprises that scale are able to move the needle in terms of impact.

Most new companies either fail or stall out, never making it beyond a small to medium enterprise. Going from a start-up to a scale-up is a true phase change, which requires a fundamental shift for the CEO and the entire organization. ScaleUpNation supports entrepreneurs to master the art of scaling, with an ambition to double the number of impact scale-ups.


The Future is Female Entrepreneurs

Join our Happy Hour March 7


When talking about  business growth, one often overlooked factor is diversity. But it makes a difference:

  • A recent NBER analysis shows that 25% of overall GDP growth in US over the past 50 years can be attributed solely to the impact of women and minorities entering and establishing leadership roles in highly skilled occupations.
  • Venture capital firms that increase their proportion of female partner hires by only 10% saw on average a 1.5% spike in overall fund returns.
  • A 2013 survey undertaken by think tank, Center for Talent Innovation, found that 48 per cent of companies in the US with more diversity at senior management level improved their market share the previous year, while only 33 per cent companies with less diverse management reported similar growth.

More women in leadership = more business growth, but how to make it happen? According to HBR, “it is far easier to build a diverse organization from the ground up than to diversify a large, complex, homogenous machine.” Getting it right from start-up to scale-up can make or break your venture’s success.

We’ve teamed up with Antler to celebrate the impact female leaders in the start-up and scale-up ecosystem here in Amsterdam, on the eve of International Women’s day. Come and join for a high-energy event and happy hour, please register here:

Men and women are welcome.

A Day in the Runway

As we gear up to welcome Runway Class 7 to ScaleUpNation, we’re sharing a peek into a typical day in the Runway Program. We’ve got an incredible group of impact ventures starting this March 28. There are only a few spots left in the class, for more information please see our Runway Program page.

A Day in the Runway

But first, coffee

8:43 am – The first ventures begin to arrive at ScaleUpDistrict in Amsterdam and the coffee and camaraderie are flowing. It’s not every day that venture founders meet their counterparts at companies in exactly the same growth stage, so each break is designed for a meeting of the minds. Even early in the morning, the questions and conversations go deep:

  • How did you set up a sales team to launch in Germany?
  • What was your experience like with that VC?
  • Where did you find the right CFO?

Claim your market

9:02 am – The 15 venture management teams are ready to get busy. Morning topic: operational excellence for sales and marketing, leaving behind the opportunistic startup style to become a strategic sales machine. B2B sales expert Christophe Frère leads the teams through specific scale-up case studies and war-stories, prompting lively discussion, then the teams dive into action mode and analyze their top customers. Conclusions from the session:

  • Four teams now know exactly what to look for in a professional sales director.
  • Three teams have a clear next step on how to close the big prospect they’ve been talking to for months.
  • One team feels comfortable that it’s time to “dump” a couple customers and focus their energy on a more profitable niche target group.

Diving deep, 1:1

13:35 – A successful serial entrepreneur is a needle in a haystack, a rare breed. Only ScaleUpNation has assembled a unique group of 20 veterans, who are all available to our Runway teams for discussion and insights. Over a healthy lunch, they team up to deep dive on a specific scaling challenge chosen by each venture:

  • Jaap Maljers works with one team on their medical device roadmap.
  • Jörgen Sandig asks the questions that help develop a new perspective on a machine learning agenda.
  • Alexander van Wassenaar advises on a particularly an urgent need: maintaining financial health and a healthy cash flow.

Moving your team to action

15:03 – Many teams take great pride in their start-up culture, but worry about this changing as they scale. Going from a close-knit group of pioneers to an organization with real management, how to deal with the new dynamics, beliefs and empowerment? We’ve found tremendous power in storytelling for keeping the soul of a scale-up alive through the transition. Founders are typically already good at inspirational “pitches” but together with maestro Robert Wolfe, they learn new storytelling formats they can use to motivate their teams to act, trust, learn, envision and reinforce culture. Then, they practice.

  • Three of the teams realize they mostly tell stories to get buy-in from externals, but don’t use stories effectively for inspiring action and building trust with their larger team.
  • Five of the teams decide to use this technique in their weekly meetings, especially to connect with new employees.
  • Two of the teams figure out they had a natural storyteller in their management team they didn’t expect.

And as the day draws to a close, the teams feel renewed energy and continue to share their stories on the way out. Tomorrow they will deepen their team leadership perspectives especially on hiring, taking inspiration from casting a performance. On the enterprise side, the focus shifts to strategy and the big blue ocean ahead now they’re beyond start-up stage. Each session brings to life the ScaleUpNation research insights and expert perspectives, allowing the management teams to step away from day-to-day operations and reflect on the company they want to build.

ScaleUpNation only invites those founders who have made it past the early start-up phase and have shown the vision, leadership, track record, and impact orientation that we know it takes to scale. Find out more about the Runway Program here.

See you at the AOM Scale-up Conference

Academy of Management Conference

This week at ScaleUpNation we’ve been busy preparing for the Academy of Management Specialized Conference in Tel Aviv next week. The theme “From Start-up to Scale-up Strategies: Coping with Organizational Challenges in a Volatile Business Environment” is timely and relevant as we develop further insights and tools that we can immediately put into practice for the scale-ups in our programs.

ScaleUpNation is joining this conference to learn from the impressive slate of participants, including those whose thinking has been instrumental in our research and product development. We’re especially looking forward to:


In addition to learning through conversations and attending lectures, we’re also hosting two interactive workshops on Monday December 17. This is also the moment we begin to share our Lab’s first academic papers and new thesis on “The Art of Scaling.”

The workshops are interactive: designed to leverage the wisdom of the crowd to both learn more from true experts on scaling topics and leverage these experts to help real (in the flesh!) scale-up founders facing immediate challenges. We’re looking forward to our sessions:

Into the Black Box of Scaling

In the workshop, we invite participants to engage in a researcher-practitioner discussion on two questions:

  1. Which scale-up success factors are insufficiently understood or implemented by scale-up management teams, so warrant better awareness and implementation?
  2. Which scale-up success factors are insufficiently clear or ambivalent and need further research to avoid simplistic actions by scale-up management teams?

We, as researchers and practitioners will share what we know and want to get across and as importantly what we don’t and need to find out. This is an ideal opportunity for practitioners and researchersto collaborate based on shared passion and purpose.

Acting as a Scale-up Board Member

In this session, we invite participants to engage in acting as a board member. CEOs from Tel Aviv-based scale-ups will participate in this session and ask you to engage in a board meeting. We will ask you to  reflect on the dynamics and effectiveness, with regard to the following:

  1. What is required to be a scale-up board member?
  2. What is the difference between investing, advising and coaching?
  3. What inhibits you to be most effective?

As Board membership is an experience game, we especially welcome to this session those participants who, like ourselves, already fulfill board roles in young innovative firms.

This is a chance for practitioners and researchers to define the key challenges of scale-up board membership, to share the best practices from research and articulate what we still need to find out. Moreover, we aim to give you direct connections to the vibrant Tel Aviv scale-up community.

Looking forward to seeing you at AOM next week!


Social challenges are also entrepreneurial opportunities. Many innovative new businesses are started but only very few are able to scale.

And only those that scale really moves the needle in terms of social impact, economic value creation and new employment.

Over the last years, we worked intensively with a portfolio of about 100 scale-ups in the Netherlands to understand the factors that increase the probability of scaling success. We work on strategy/firm factors, business practices, organizational/HRM practices, as well as leadership development. We combine practice with research.

In our work, we find that scaling is an art, not a mechanistic formula. Scale-ups operate in a volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world, so a lot is outside their control. Scale-ups are entrepreneurial by nature; they engage in risk taking and therefore depend on good fortune. Their success is path dependent. And finally, scaling is organic, interconnected, symbiotic. Still, we strongly believe that practices can be distilled that significantly increase probability of scale-up success.

Attending AOM:

Hayat Chedid, has a corporate background with a range of managerial positions in industrial innovation settings, followed by a second career in leadership coaching. She supports a portfolio of scale-ups in leadership development and culture building. She will lead the introduction sessions and group facilitation.

Menno van Dijk, has a consulting background as senior partner at McKinsey company, leader of its European Media practice, and founder of its first software business. Menno founded THNK, the School for Creative Leadership, and ScaleUpNation which blends research on scale-up success factors and support to impact oriented scale-ups. He will lead the storytelling session, the setting the scene session, facilitate in the topic break-out and will participate as scale-up CEO.

Jorgen Sandig (Netherlands), is an IT expert with focus on CRM and embedded intelligence. He is the founder/CEO of Scyfer, a Dutch AI scale-up which he sold to Qualcomm. Since he is leading ScaleUpNation’s research efforts. He will facilitate in the topic break-outs and participate as scale-up CEO.

Afroditi Terzi (Greece) is a senior researcher at ScaleUpNation. She leads our research in comparing scale-ups to those that stall, across firm factors, business practices, organizational concepts and leadership traits. In addition, she orchestrates our scientific literature research. She will facilitate in the topic break-outs.

Noam Gressel is a Tel Aviv based serial entrepreneur an investor. He will orchestrate the participation of scale-up CEOs in the Board session.

Event: Cracking the code of corporate – venture collaboration

Event: Cracking the code of corporate & venture collaboration

Increasingly, corporates are sourcing ideas and solutions from the tech start-up/scale-up community, but cooperation can be ad hoc and notorious for moving slowly with minimal return.

There must be a better way! Let’s find a way to work together and crack the code of corporate and start-up/scale-up collaboration by:

  • Learning from leaders who are doing it, not consulting or selling it
  • Discovering insights backed by both science and hands-on practice
  • Meeting corporate and start-up/scale-up leaders who are striving towards your same objectives

All at an event hosted by ScaleUpNation, Rockstart, and Scoutely on November 28 2018.

Cracking the code of corporate & venture collaboration event. November 28 at ScaleUpNation in Amsterdam.


14:30 – 15:00

Doors Open

15:00 – 15:15


  • Intro from Menno van Dijk/ScaleUpNation

15:15 – 15:40

The Next Wave of Innovation

  • Sander van der Blonk/Scoutely

15:40 – 17:45

Breakout Sessions

  • How to find our common purpose? (ScaleUpNation)
  • How to ascertain trust between people? (Rockstart)
  • How to organize the collaboration process? (Scoutely)

17:45 – 19:00

Reflection and Drinks

For whom:

For corporate leads in innovation, technology, business development, venture capitalist, or M&A acquisitions who currently or hope to collaborate with start-ups/scale-ups.

For venture founders of technology start-up/scale-up who either do business with corporate customers, have a corporate investor, or an ambition to be acquired by a corporate

Participation available by invite only. For consideration, please email your intention to join to Annie (


28 November, from 15:00 – 18:30. Doors open at 14:30 with coffee and refreshments.


ScaleUpNation, Burgerweeshuispad 201, 1076GR Amsterdam. Parking available via ParkMobile.

Hosted by


The growth platform for Dutch impact scale-ups.


Supporting start-ups with access to capital, markets, community, and expertise.


Matching corporates with start-ups as an independent 3rd party.

For more information

Check out Menno van Dijk and Sander van der Blonk’s article on Collaboration Principals for ventures and corporates.

To inquire about an invitation, please reach out to

Vacancy: Operations Intern

About this role/responsibilities

From September to December (4 months), our ScaleUpPractice team has an internship opportunity for an ambitious student that is excited about hospitality, operations and entrepreneurship!

You will have two main projects:

1. The Runway Program: The Runway program is a peer-based learning class where the founders of 15 ventures come together to learn how to scale their businesses. The Runway classes meet once a month for four months. ScaleUpNation will be running three Runway Classes in the fall: one for triple-bottom line ventures, one for science ventures out of universities, and one for corporate intrapreneurial ventures.

2. The Board Masterclass: This class is for people who are already board members of scale-ups and looking to increase their impact with their ventures. ScaleUpNation will be running two Board Masterclasses in the fall, each consisting of 5 full days of interactive workshops with 30 board members.

This person will be working with the Operations Lead to ensure that all five (three Runways and two Board Masterclasses) of these programs run smoothly. Responsibilities include ensuring participants and greeted and feel welcome, catering runs smoothly, class materials are always ready, facilitators are prepared, and whatever else needs to happen to make these programs a success.

This internship is a well-structured learning opportunity during which we will support you to work on your professional development. You will have the chance to be part of our international, dynamic, and smart team and take on responsibilities that will provide you with insight into our young organization. You will also get great exposure to our community of entrepreneurs.

You will work from our office at Tripolis, Burgerweeshuispad 100, 1076 Amsterdam. This can be a 4 or 5 day a week role. A compensation for the internship can be discussed.

Are you …

  • Service oriented (experience in hospitality is an advantage)?
  • A young and ambitious student in the fields of Hospitality, Communication, Organization,Event or Business management?
  • A great communicator, a team player, and a self-starter?
  • Flexible and reliable?
  • Fluent in English?
  • 80-100 percent available from August 2018 to mid- or the end of December 2018Apply now

To apply, please send a cover letter and a recent CV to Nina Kotterik, program manager ( by Friday August 17. Interviews will be held on 21/ 22 August. The ideal start date is the first week of September.

HealthTech Leadership Breakfast Series

HealthTech Leadership Breakfast Series

Introducing the ScaleUpNation HealthTech Leadership breakfast series: a monthly forum for founders and management teams of HealthTech ventures to work together on challenging leadership topics. Each of the 4 (2 hour) breakfast sessions will be dedicated to a relevant topic for health-tech scale-ups.

Addressing the HealthTech Challenges

  • What kind of leadership can disrupt a conservative, highly regulated ecosystem?
  • How to attract highly sought after talent whilst competing with big industry and big health institutions?
  • And more. Questions will be co-generated together with attendees – you’re invited to send in the topics that are top of mind and in need of an expert discussion.

Tailored format

An intimate gathering of founders/management leaders from 10 scale-up companies in the HealthTech field.
These sessions follow Chatham House Rules to create an atmosphere of privacy and anonymity but allow leaders to leverage their learnings for personal and company growth.

Led by Hayat Chedid

As the trusted leadership partner for many of the ventures in the Flight Program, Hayat has an inside view into the challenges facing HealthTech leaders and is looking forward to facilitating a master forum with these inspiring management teams.

4 Engaging Sessions

The breakfasts will take place from 8:00 to 10:00 on:
September 28, 2018
November 28, 2018
January 30, 2019
March 28, 2019

Fee: €900 for the series, per person, ex. VAT

Location TBD in Amsterdam

Interested in joining? Please get in touch:

The ScaleUpNation HealthTech Focus

The ScaleUpNation team is dedicated to empowering HealthTech venture leaders as part of our mission to enable triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) ventures and founders.

We are proud to have worked with many innovative HealthTech scale-ups, including: Stockhos, Siilo, Mellon Medical, Minddistrict, Quantib, Forcare, Happitech, Incision, SocialMedwork, NLC, tinybots, Nemo Healthcare, Usono, Robot Care Systems, BioDetection Systems, Sensara, and INCISION.

Vacancy: Venture Analyst

About this role/responsibilities

The mission for this position is to help select the best scale-ups in the Netherlands into our Runway and Flight Programs and track their growth. You will be involved in:

  • Venture Sourcing – You will systematically review Dutch start-ups and scale-ups, assess industry/technology trends, with the aim of creating a number of market maps and inform our venture selection. You will also interview scale-ups, investors and experts in the field to identify top scale-ups.
  • Venture Tracking – You will work as part of our Venture Tracking Team to conduct interviews with our scale-up founders about their scaling plans, progress and growing pains. You will also be responsible for subsequent data analysis, synthesis and venture benchmarking.
  • Venture Selection – Work with our Analyst and Program Director on Flight Program selection. This includes preparing Flight Selection meetings, and conducting scaling audits (due diligence process), and shape the support we offer.You will work as part of our Practice team, which includes another Venture Analyst, Customer Champion, Program Director, our Program Managers, our awesome Content Development Team, Community Director and Founder/CEO. You will also work closely with our Venture Partners and Leadership Coaches, and spend a lot of face-to-face time with our scale-ups.


  • Proactive, self-starter.
  • Strong analytical mind, intellectual curiosity.
  • Good with numbers and analytics.
  • Excellent communicator. Good with people.
  • Street smart. You know how to talk to entrepreneurs and get to the truth of the matter.
  • You manage projects in a timely manner and deliver on agreed milestones.
  • Fluent in English.
  • Positive can-do mentality.
  • Good teammate. Fast learner.

About you

  • University degree in Finance, Economics, BA or related.
  • 1 to 5 years working experience in finance, VC, management consulting or equivalent (a big plus).
  • You love technology, enterprise scaling and innovation.
  • You are available 4 to 5 days a week.

What we offer

  • Lots of responsibilities and a fast learning curve.
  • A driven and international team of really great people.
  • Full access to our scaling programs.
  • Access to our founder’s community, representing awesome Dutch scale-ups with solutions thatbenefit the Circular Economy, Health and SmartCities.
  • Shared offices in our ScaleUpDistrict, with great people, scale-ups and coffee.
  • Competitive salary.

To apply, please send a cover note and a recent resume to Laurie Kemp, our Venture Analyst at by June 22nd. Interviews will be held on June 28th and 29th and the ideal start date is ASAP.