Enschede, the Netherlands, 3 June
Yesterday the University of Twente and Saxion University of Applied Sciences launched the Dutch Student Investment Fund. At the opening ceremony, Neelie Kroes – Special Envoy at StartUp Delta – and Jasper Driessens – interim director of the Fund – handed a symbolic money case to Jasper van Weerd, founder of LipoCoat. LipoCoat is the first start-up to receive an investment from the fund, 40.000 euros. The fund will be led by a board consisting mainly of students and an investment committee with only student members. It is the first time in Europe such a startup fund led by students is founded. In the forthcoming years, an estimated 1 million euros will be invested as convertible loans to promising student-led-startups in the region of Twente.
Jasper Driessens of the Student Union of the University of Twente, and interim board member at the Dutch Student Investment Fund: “Entrepreneurship is in the DNA of students at the University of Saxion and Saxion. The fund fits well with the needs of these students. By setting up such a fund, we facilitate the process of growing and learning for both the startups and the student investors.” The fund has the ambition not only to offer convertible loans, but also to provide practice and internship assignments for students at the student startups.
The Dutch Student Investment Fund is the Twente response to a difficult market for early financing of student-companies. Victor van der Chijs, president of the Executive Board of the University of Twente: “As an entrepreneurial University, we acknowledge the added value of student startups for our economy. By starting the Dutch Student Investment Fund, we put action to our words. It also makes clear why we already make students responsible for activities in and around the university. We are confident that especially students have a clear view on new developments and opportunities for societies.” Wim Boomkamp, president of the Executive Board of Saxion added: ‘This fund is a practical manner in which we facilitate the ambition of our student startups. It also offers great a working experience to our student-board members.”
The fund is open-ended and invests in very early stages of startups, with loans of 25.000 up to 100.00 euros. Startups must be founded by bachelor, master or PhD students at the University of Twente or Saxion, or have finished their education within the last year. Investments will be made with convertible loans, which can be turned into equities in future funding rounds. The first donations to the fund are being made by Saxion and the University of Twente, that have committed the board of the fund to broaden the fund with new partners. A few business partners have already shown interest in participating in the fund.
The interim board of the Dutch Student Investment Fund is formed by Fons Mentink, Jasper Driessens en Rogier Stuyver, students at the University of Twente, and Patrick Meijer and Carmen van der Maten, students at Saxion. They will be assisted by experienced pre-seed coordinator Erwin Holtland of Kennispark Twente and experienced board members and investors: professor Steve Walsh of the University of New Mexico, Ray Quintana, associate at the U.S.-based Cottonwood Technology Fund and Thomas Mensink of Golden Egg Check.
LipoCoat is the first company to receive an investment by the fund. It was founded by Jasper van Weerd, an alumnus of Saxion who received his PhD at the University of Twente in January. The company develops coatings for medical applications, that make sure medical aids will no longer be rejected and inflammation or painful reactions will be reduced. A first application might be possible in contact lenses, to reduce contact lens irritations. The coating will provide a thin layer on the eyeball, reducing the evaporation of tear fluids. Two large companies in contact lenses have already shown interest.