Promising Artificial Intelligence (AI) startups in Groningen can now expect additional support. The Investment Fund Groningen (IFG) is participating in Curiosity, an Amsterdam-based investment fund that specifically targets emerging AI software companies.
For the IFG, this move is a valuable investment in support of the Groningen A. ecosystem, explains fund manager Jan-Gerben Postma. "We always look for the best ways to advance entrepreneurial Groningen. AI is promising, certainly in Groningen. Curiosity has been actively investing in companies in this field for a few years now, in the Netherlands and Northern Europe. By participating in this fund, we see an opportunity to attract additional funding and bring scaling expertise to the startups in the region."
Northern Netherlands is still a somewhat uncharted area for the Amsterdam based fund, and founder Herman Kienhuis wants to change that. "We aim to support entrepreneurs in building responsible AI software companies. We see a lot of opportunities in Groningen, with the university, the Bernoulli institute for Mathematics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence and a number of innovative companies that are already making their mark, such as Slimmer AI, Klippa and Chordify. With the support of IFG, we are expanding our network to find and support promising AI startups and strengthen the northern ecosystem." There's a personal motivation too. "I studied chemical technology at the University of Groningen and have a soft spot for the region."
Curiosity has already started a tour along key players in Groningen, such as AI-Hub North, Founded in Groningen and investors like G-Force, NOM and RUG-Ventures. Kienhuis: "We are mainly interested to invest in applications of AI, less in fundamental technology. Think, for example, of cybersecurity, fintech, enterprise software, MLOps, legaltech, logistics, energy, and climate tech applications."
Jan-Gerben Postma is convinced that Curiosity brings more than just financing. "The team has a lot of experience, also in assisting entrepreneurs in the field of strategy, commercial development, operational scaling, legal affairs, and more. Additionally, the fund has built a strong community of experts, investors, and entrepreneurs that are co-owners in the fund. That also adds significant value."
Curiosity was founded two years ago. The venture capital fund focuses on early-stage investments in talented, diverse teams in the Benelux, Nordics and Baltics that are building AI-first software applications. Founders Herman Kienhuis, former McKinsey, Sanoma Digital, and director of KPN Ventures, and Maurice Beckand Verwee, founder of incubator and investor Crosspring, have decades of experience in investing and the technology sector.
Investment Fund Groningen, with a size of 60 million euros, specifically invests in investment funds that invest their capital in SMEs in the province of Groningen. The goal is – in addition to financial return – to have a positive impact on the environment and the economic climate in the region. IFG now has 13 funds in its portfolio, which invest in various sectors and life stages of companies.