Seen through the lens of His Royal Highness Prince Constantijn
i find something very intriguing about members of a royal family working to advance the startup scene for a particular country.
In a magnificently candid conversation, I spoke with HRH Prince Constantijn, fourth in line to the throne of the Netherlands, at CES earlier this month. We discussed the Dutch ecosystem, the role of the government in stimulating innovation and the challenges the country faces in helping companies from start-up to scale-up.
[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]
ukbusinessupdates.com: Why are you here at CES?
HRH Prince Constantine: I think I can help. I want to continue building a relationship with the CTA [the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES] and help some of these companies by introducing them to corporates.
“[The Netherlands] is a country that would not exist without innovation. About a third of the country [was] underwater, and it innovated itself into existence.” HRH Prince Constantine
Some companies only meet me for the selfies. That makes me think, ‘Maybe you’ll stop with that shit; I know what you want, so let’s just take the picture and get over it.
In general, I’m here to support businesses. In the Netherlands, we have support programs for scale-ups or companies that are a little further along, so a lot of what we do is connect them, introduce them to founders or investors in the Bay Area, support them in as many ways as I can. And [CES] is just one of those outlets.
Why is CES important for the Netherlands in general?
The Netherlands is a small market and Europe is quite fragmented. The US is an important market. Most companies – depending on the sector – will have to go to the US at some point. For example, the US is the largest healthcare market, so for most of those companies it’s important to get there early and build some relationships. The US is also probably the largest car market. CES is relevant to us because it is so large and brings together many different industries. Most of the big players are here.
CES doesn’t hit the mark for some of the companies we have, especially the software companies, but there’s such a density of technology companies here that you can tell there’s really a lot of relevant contacts. So that’s the most important thing.
You seem to have shown an interest in the Dutch startup ecosystem. Why is that a focus for you?