Check out our frequent asked questions to learn more about the program.


Welcome to our FAQ section dedicated to our program. Here, we’ve compiled answers to the most commonly asked questions about imec.istart.nl including the application process, eligibility criteria, and much more. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a seasoned innovator, these FAQs will provide you with valuable insights and information to help you navigate our program effectively. If you have any additional questions or need further clarification, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. Your journey to success starts here, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way.



Application & selection criteria

Am I the kind of company you’re looking for?

It’s easy to find out. Do you meet these criteria?

  • You want to launch or have launched a product based on innovative technology, preferably complex technology and from the fields of health, agrifoodtech, industry 4.0, and energy. We have a slight preference for hardware startups but hardware/software or software-only startups are also welcome.
  • You have a working proof-of-concept.
  • You aspire to develop a scalable product or product-service combination.
  • Your product amounts to a technological or business innovation.
  • You address a clear problem in the market.
  • You have bold international ambitions.

Then you have every reason to apply.

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What evaluation and selection criteria do you use?

Enhance your selection chances by coming up with:

an idea that:

  • is highly technically or technologically innovative.
  • responds to a clear customer need.
  • is backed by the outline of a business model.
  • has at least one clear and strong differentiator.
  • is ready to compete in a defined and sufficiently large market.

a core team that:

  • is committed and willing to bear the entrepreneurial risk.
  • is capable of pushing technological boundaries.
  • embraces external coaching.
  • is ready to go global.
  • can show a finished proof-of-concept of the technology, including a sketch of the required actions regarding freedom to operate (FPO) and intellectual property rights (IPR).
  • envisions the possibility of a break-even within two to three years.
  • aims at a sales figure of at least 1 million euro within three years and 10 million euro in the long term.

Those last two points address the financial viability of your startup; so, you might think that they’re more important than the others. Actually, the opposite is true. If two proposals are equally strong, imec.istart.nl will choose the one that excels in technological innovation and business orientation.

Furthermore, projects with a high societal impact are always eligible, even if they don’t score particularly high on the last two financial criteria.

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Which documents do I need to add to my application?

Include the following documents in your online application:

  • team presentation of all your team members.
  • executive summary of your project (max. two pages).
  • list of the milestones of your project, including budgets.
  • business pitch (slide deck).
  • short demo movie of your working prototype.

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Do I have to move to The Netherlands to participate?

No, but you must be able to attend our mandatory meetings in Enschede or Nijmegen. This amounts to an average of 1 week per quarter.

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Can I apply if my company isn’t incorporated yet?

Yes, you can. But once you’re selected, make sure you’re incorporated before the program starts. After all, we need a company in which to invest the 100,000 euros.

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My company is a spin-off. Am I eligible to apply for the imec.istart.nl program?

Yes, as long as:

  • there’s a clear split between both businesses.
  • the intellectual property entirely belongs to your spin-off. Or has been licensed to your startup with a fitting freedom to operate.
  • the spin-off team is fully committed to making your project a success.

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How many startups do you accept each call in the program?

We usually accept between four to five startups per cohort. But we refuse to tie ourselves to a fixed number. It’s a lot more important to select those startups that can really benefit from our program.

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My company’s not in the Netherlands. Can I apply for funding?

If you’re incorporated in another country, you can still apply. For startups from other countries, you will have to move your headquarters to the Netherlands in order for us to invest in your company.

Know that foreign entrepreneurs, i.e. non-EU entrepreneurs, need a work permit (and therefore temporary residence permit) to set up their business in the Netherlands. We’re proudly recognized by the Dutch government as an accredited accelerator through which foreign entrepreneurs can obtain their permit more easily. We advise you to apply for a startup visa via Startup Visa NL.

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Is the valuation negotiable?

No, it’s always 50,000 euros in exchange for 6% of equity plus 50.000 as a convertible note . Did you get a better offer from other investors? So do a lot of our startups. But they still choose to join us for our support program, which is, after all, invaluable. And you can always combine imec.istart.nl with other sources of funding.

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Can I spend the money any way I like?

You’re free to use your 100,000 euro on any business-related cost. Just make sure that you:

  • spend no more than 15,000 euros on product development.
  • don’t use the money to pay your own salary (which you can obviously pay with revenues or other sources of funding).

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Can the imec.istart.nl program support me in raising extra investments?

Yes. We’ll help you to define your next-stage funding requirements. To help you fulfil those requirements, we introduce you to our international investor network and put you on stage during our Investors Days – organized twice a year. Although imec.istart.nl offer no guarantees, this greatly enhances your chances at additional funding. In fact, for every 1 EUR we invest in our startups, on average 35 EUR are additionally raised in follow-up funding by our network of investors.

And we might invest up to 150,000 euro of our own capital in your startup. Yes, that’s on top of the 100.000 euro pre-seed funding. No promises upfront though, as that’s a decision we usually take when the program is already up-and-running.

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We do our best not to. But companies and the products they bring to market often evolve over time. So, we can’t completely rule out that they move on each other’s turf.

In any case, we always ensure that:

  • there is never an exchange of sensitive data.
  • competitive companies are coached by different venture acceleration managers.

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Can you help us to get funded after the program ends?

Yes, by preparing you for and introducing you to our network of imec, Novel-T, and a network of international investors: business angels, VC funds, corporates, banks, crowdfunding platforms, etc.

On top of that, we put you in the spotlight during the Investors Days that we organize twice a year for an international investor audience. And obviously, we’ll try to get you on stage at other events that are swarming with investors.

Incidentally, we might invest up to an additional 150.000 euro ourselves during or after the imec.istart.nl program.

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How long does imec.istart.nl wish to hold a share in my company?

Just like any investor, our ultimate goal is to exit your startup at some point. When? Ideally, before the seven-year anniversary of our investment. But, of course, we’re not quite like any investor. Our big goal is to help you build a sustainable company in the long run. So, we’re happy to be patient until that happens. On the other hand, don’t hesitate to contact us at any moment if you want to buy back our shares in your company.

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Can imec.istart.nl help me to go international?

Yes. Once your project is in an advanced stage, we’re happy to support you in crossing the borders. imec.istart.nl has access to people and facilities around the world. And our dedicated internationalization officer helps you to connect with local players, guides you to promising events, and advises you on how to do business abroad.

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