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A start-up is just the beginning. How to relocate to the Netherlands with your own project - tell SkillToStart


Is it possible to move to one of the most democratic and economically successful European countries without depending on recruiting agencies and picky employers? Easily if you're going to begin your own startup!

Since 2015, the Netherlands has had a programme to attract start-ups from outside the EU to the country. The aim of this programme is for non-EU citizens to start innovative businesses in the Netherlands. In exchange, these foreigners are given the right to reside in Dutch territory, and subsequently, subject to legal requirements, to obtain citizenship.

The aim of the programme was to attract several dozen innovative businesses a year, and this has been successfully achieved. Attracting innovative businesses to the country allows the Netherlands to maintain and expand its scientific potential and increase its international competitiveness.

For citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries it is possible to apply for a Dutch startup visa and get a residency permit (residence permit) in the Netherlands for 1 year with the possibility of an extension of 2 years or more, up to obtaining a passport or permanent residence permit after 5 years from the date of arrival.

It should be noted that the Netherlands ranks first in the world in terms of economic globalisation - and that is another reason why project founders prefer to set up a company here. The country is one of the five most competitive economies in the world and is also one of the most tolerant.

The Netherlands has an excellent ecosystem for start-ups: it has 10 leading innovation centres, where start-ups are supported by world-class business incubators and research centres.

The Netherlands ranks as the fourth best European country for starting and promoting start-ups, and the Dutch government constantly supports entrepreneurs and promotes new companies in every possible way.

The Netherlands is, without exaggeration, the best place for start-ups planning to develop in Europe. The diverse industry clusters in the Netherlands combine the flexibility of private enterprise with the experience and expertise of the best Dutch institutions. Here, international companies have almost unlimited opportunities to grow and collaborate in these clusters in every sector - from agriculture, food and chemicals to logistics and sustainable energy.

If you do not know where to integrate your project in the Netherlands, we will tell you about the most famous innovation centres in the country.


Brainport Eindhoven - the next level of IT technology

The Netherlands has been called the new Silicon Valley - and above all this is due to the Eindhoven region. Here, clusters emerged as a result of self-organisation by interested actors, and local and regional governments played the role of facilitators.

In Eindhoven, a whole ecosystem of innovation has been created - Brainport - where high technology, science and the social sphere come together to solve economic and social problems.

High Tech Campus, Eindhoven

It is home to the High Tech Campus, which was originally part of Philips' infrastructure and later reformatted into a modern space open to creativity and innovation. Here, new companies are housed, they interact freely with each other, share infrastructure, generate new ideas and develop projects - in short, they form a whole community. The High Tech Campus has been called the heart of Eindhoven's innovation system.

The list of companies in Eindhoven, their specialisation and the issues they tackle can be found here.

Food Valley - developments in the field of agriculture

Food Valley in the province of Gelderland is one of the most established centres for agriculture and food in Europe. Based on cutting-edge agricultural technology and in cooperation with leading research institutes such as the University and Research Centre Wageningen, Food Valley has gained an international reputation for its "Silicon Valley-style innovation" in the Dutch agri-food industry.

Leading international companies, including Kikkoman Foods, Unilever and Symrise, conduct their research and development in agriculture and food production in this very region.

A total of 200 agri-food companies call Food Valley their home, making the Netherlands the world's second largest exporter of agri-food products. Food Valley always welcomes new talented entrants and original ideas.

Chemelot - engine of the chemical industry

The chemical innovation cluster Chemelot is located in the province of Limburg, in the south of the Netherlands. This is not just an industrial park, but a unique community that provides accelerated business growth through the open exchange of ideas.

It is also home to the Brightlands Chemelot campus, which provides an ideal environment for innovation and research using advanced materials for a more sustainable development.

Companies from all over the world have invested their money and resources in this project - from the Recycling Technologies plastic recycling plant to the R&D centres of Sekisui S-Lec and Mitsui Chemicals and the SABIC Global Technology Center.

Energy Port Eemshaven – sustainable energy innovation

The Eemshaven energy port is located in the northern Dutch province of Groningen. It is responsible for entrepreneurship and innovation in the country's energy sector. In fact, one third of all energy produced in the Netherlands comes from Emshafen. The region is also Europe's most important connection port to energy sources ranging from wind farms to hydroelectric power plants and solar energy parks.


Google has opened a 100% renewable data centre in the region powered by Eneco's Delfzijl Solar Station.

It is also home to the Gemini Wind Farm, one of the largest wind farms of its kind in the world.

Schiphol - the centre of modern logistics

Strange as it may sound, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is indeed a separate industry cluster, namely, a dynamic ecosystem of the country's logistics sector.

Schiphol's infrastructure provides companies with unparalleled logistics across Europe. Over the past 30 years, the airport has received hundreds of European and global awards and has confidently taken its place among the best airports in Europe for direct connections to international destinations.

Schiphol Shopping Park offers direct access to the airport as well as a unique space for innovation in Europe's greenest business park. From DHL's life sciences logistics hub and the extensive Royal FloraHolland flower vault to new distribution centres for Gulfstream's aerospace logistics and GEFCO's automotive supply chain, companies across all sectors are opening logistic locations close to Schiphol to keep the supply chain stable.

Twente Kennispark is a startuper's best friend

Kennispark Twente is located in the Enschede region and is one of the largest innovation campuses in the Netherlands. It ranks second in terms of commercial bookings in the country.

The mission of Twente is to improve the business climate in the region. To achieve this goal, work is being carried out in the following areas: support for systems of assistance to innovative start-ups, industrial and innovative activities based on joint innovative projects of small and medium-sized businesses; as well as creating a favourable investment climate for innovative enterprises.


Despite government support and ample opportunities for development, obtaining a start-up visa for the Netherlands is a rather laborious process that requires knowledge of all the nuances and subtleties of applying.

The most important factor in being successful in obtaining a Dutch start-up visa is the support of one of the specialised facilitator companies for your application. These are licensed organisations whose purpose is to identify the potential of a startup, as well as help in its formation and promotion. It is this kind of mentoring that makes the development of a startup to a real success the most likely.

At the same time, the choice and presentation of the project to the facilitator is often an impossible task for the author of the startup idea. In this matter, qualified assistance can play a decisive role.

SkillToStart specialists will help you select facilitators, present your project to them and achieve a start-up visa for the Netherlands in a relatively short time.

Nina, SkillToStart:

“At the moment, another Russian project that we have been  working with, has received the approval of the Dutch facilitator and is preparing to move to the Netherlands. The team has Russian passports, submitted from Georgia, World Startup facilitator, The Hague.

The guys came to study with us at the Startup Tools course. They already had a project and a working IT company with their own products in the field of supply chain optimization, logistics, marketing and loyalty programs.

The request for the course was: a ready and submitted application for a start-up visa and an identified investor. The team is strong, with about 5 years of business experience in IT. Knowledge of English in the team - B2.

On the course, the guys worked intensively and collectively, did all their homework, implemented all our recommendations. As a result, after 8 weeks of classes on the course, an excellent pitch deck and a short business plan were ready.

We approved the list of relevant facilitators, drafted a cover letter, discussed possible additional questions from the facilitator, and sent out applications.

The TU Delft facilitator rejected them right away. But this is the only facilitator who openly refused to work with projects from Russia. So don't post there! Then came a few more failures with an explanation for the rejection. Time passed, but we felt certain of success.

And now the guys have received a long-awaited answer from an interested facilitator! This was followed by an invitation to an online interview. At the interview, the guys were told: "We all understand, we know that you want to leave. This is not a problem. Your idea is cool! We will help you." The best part is that this particular facilitator also acts as an investor. That is, the team has fully implemented its request!

We are sincerely happy for the guys!

This is the third startup we have consulted that has signed a contract with the Dutch facilitator World Startup in the last 4 months.

We like to solve complex problems and help talented people achieve their dreams.

Another case - a team from the Republic of Belarus (citizenship of the Republic of Belarus) with a working business in the field of medical equipment contacted us with a request to obtain a residence permit in the Netherlands in order to register a company, start operations in the EU and scale the business to the European market.

The SkillToStart team analysed the current business, identified innovative points, after discussion with the client, added an innovative sustainable development component in the most relevant area for the Netherlands, outlined the path for research development for the first year of startup development, conducted an analysis of the Dutch market, including a comparative analysis of competitors, prepared a presentation for the facilitator.

Also, in agreement with the client, letters of support were received from European partners and potential clients. In addition, we used feedback from current clients on completed projects.

From the beginning of the preparation of the application to the signing of the contract with the facilitator, the process took 5 weeks. At the same time, the facilitator to whom we sent the presentation of the startup responded positively on the same day, and after 3 days an online interview was scheduled.

We sent the presentation directly to the program director, who, by the way, has a specialised medical education, and this significantly reduced the time for consideration and selection.

At the online interview, the facilitator confirmed his interest in the startup and his willingness to sign an agreement with them. That is, the approval of the facilitator to sign the contract and visa support was received in record time - 4 days.”

With the competent support of project relocation specialists, a start-up visa to the Netherlands can be  received in a relatively short time. The main thing is that your start-up meets the interests of European society and all the conditions for submitting documents are met.

Kennispark Twente

Useful resources for beginning a startup in the Netherlands:

Workshops on preparing an application and presenting a project from SkillToStart

Residence permit for foreign startups

About StartupAmsterdam

The main funding and subsidies in the Netherlands

Specialized medical and healthcare grants

NWO Research Council Funding

Empowering innovation and business in Limburg

The Northern Netherlands Alliance

You can assess your chances of obtaining a startup visa at a free consultation with experts from SkillToStart.

Emigrating to the Netherlands is real.

The SkillToStart project on social media:

Sources: Skill To Start,,

Cover photo: Chemelot Campus,

Total Recall: we collect documents together with the specialists of the project for relocation to the Netherlands SkillToStart
Emigration/The Netherlands

Total Recall: we collect documents together with the specialists of the project for relocation to the Netherlands SkillToStart

Moving to the Netherlands on a start-up visa is easier than it looks. An interview with the founders of SkillToStart
Emigration/The Netherlands

Moving to the Netherlands on a start-up visa is easier than it looks. An interview with the founders of SkillToStart