Venture Cafe - Rotterdam Maritime Capital of Europe - Shaping the future Credit: Iris van den Broek

Shaping the Future.

Creating opportunities for start-ups & scale-ups.

Rotterdam offers the ideal conditions to enable innovative maritime start-ups and ambitious scale-ups to develop their ideas. The region has a proven track record of successful innovations in digitalisation and zero emission technology. Because of this it is the ideal location to grow a business to its full potential: from concept, design and development, all the way to production and delivery.

Building a sustainable future

The shipyards and maritime equipment suppliers located in the Rotterdam region are renowned for constantly striving to optimise their products and services. The same is true for the offshore industry, for which Rotterdam is an unmissable logistical and technological hub for operations in the North Sea and beyond. Whether you are a start-up or a scale-up, these strong shipbuilding and offshore foundations make Rotterdam the ideal location to accelerate new initiatives.

Learn more about zero-emission shipping in the maritime capital of Europe and the Hydro Motion Team.

Showcasing the Hydro Motion Team

At Delft University of Technology, a global frontrunner specialised in maritime technology, a team of students is now turning their attention to hydrogen power after 15 years of developing solar-powered boats. Working together with the maritime sector to accelerate the transition to green energy, the team’s goal is to design and build a hydrogen-powered boat within one year.

A springboard to success

For start-ups and scale-ups looking for a high concentration of globally operating maritime companies, Rotterdam is the ultimate sales environment. The sheer extent and scope of potential partners, investors and clients who are very often just ‘around the corner’ makes networking highly productive. This map shows you what we are talking about. Rotterdam has everything you need to accomplish your ambitions.

Showcasing Wattlab

Meet Wattlab. A Rotterdam based scale-up that integrates highly efficient plug and play solar hatches for inland vessels and sailing solar parks. Watch the video to learn more about this Rotterdam based scale-up managed to set-up valuable partnerships with leader firms such as Damen Shipyards and Blommaert.

Showcasing AquaSmartXL

Another scaleup active in the field of smart shipping technology is AquaSmartXL. With unmanned aquatic drones they can inspect and observe hard-to-reach locations. They joined the PortXL Program which gave them a kickstart.

Showcasing Demcon Unmanned Systems

Demcon Unmanned Systems was founded in 2018 by a team that came from an unmanned aerial vehicle company and is now active in electric unmanned vessels and autonomous navigation solutions. In 2021 Netherlands Maritime Technology awarded them with the annual Maritime Innovation Award. With their launching customer Van Oord they built their first vessel. Learn more about their story here.

Find out more about Smart Shipping in Rotterdam

Room for pioneering

The Rotterdam region holds a number of world-class universities and research institutes. Besides the Erasmus University and Delft University of Technology, the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences has a dedicated maritime faculty. What’s more, TU Delft has set up RAS Lab, its own Research Lab to study autonomous shipping.

These knowledge institutions offer no less than 14 different maritime-related Master’s degrees. It is no wonder that Rotterdam is where the future professionals can be found. It is their skilled talent that pushes the region’s innovation ecosystem forward.

The region has a broad network of organisations that help transform ideas of into business. A network of incubators and accelerator programmes like PortXL, Yes! Delft, Buccaneer Delft and CIC connect people (and their ideas) to each other.

A complete maritime network on your doorstep

Rotterdam is not just home to the ‘hands-on’ specialists. It also has an extremely diverse and comprehensive network of maritime business service providers. Here, we are talking about highly specialised insurance and legal experts, classification societies and banks. These parties are experts in their fields; this lets you stay 100% focused on your own start-up or scale-up activities.

Finding the funding is not always easy. There are numerous possibilities to secure the investment you need in the Rotterdam area. Rotterdam is proud to be able to call itself an enabler of new business ideas. These stories from EST-Floattech and Tetrahedron show how it’s done. This database from UP! Rotterdam will help you get the ball rolling.

Got a question?

Do you have questions about funding, accelerating, finding the right innovation partner or something else that pops into your head? Fill out this form and we will get back to you!

Jorn Douwstra

Jorn Douwstra
Manager International Trade & Investment
Rotterdam Partners

+31 (0)10 790 01 40

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Jorn Douwstra