Dutch Student Investment Fund agrees on first investment

f.l.t.r. Lars Pieké, Frans van der Sluis and Jelle Kerkdijk.
Photo by: Rikkert Harink

The Dutch Student Investment Fund (DSIF) has confirmed its first investment. On Tuesday 21 March 2017, the Fund’s board (which is run entirely by students) signed the agreement with Grasp (a start-up company) in Enschede.

The cooperative venture should get Grasp off to a flying start. The company has developed highly promising technology that is used to rapidly analyse huge amounts of content at websites. Based on this analysis, it gives indications on where improvements could be made, to convey the message effectively. Grasp is owned by Frans van der Sluis, who obtained his PhD at the University of Twente.

Aside from providing financial backing of a 50,000 Euro investment, DSIF will be closely involved in the future development. “There is more to our cooperative ventures than the financial aspects alone,” says DSIF Portfolio Director Jelle Kerkdijk. “We are cooperating closely to boost Grasp into a period of rapid growth. We make every effort to help the company along by leveraging our network’s knowledge. The support provided by Novel-T, the catalyst of high-tech innovation and entrepreneurship in Twente, is proving very useful in practice.”

Data-driven content strategy

f.l.t.r. Jelle Kerkdijk, Victor van der Chijs, Frans van der Sluis and Lars Pieké.
Photo by: Rikkert Harink

During his PhD research, Dr Van der Sluis developed a patented algorithm that analyses and structures large amounts of content, such as blogs and news articles. It searches content for ‘sweet spots’. These are tipping points at which the information someone is reading is converted into knowledge. This involves factors such as topics, writing style and complexity. The analyses provide insight into the impact of the content. “Our key target group is content marketers”, says Van der Sluis. “We have noted that our analyses form a perfect starting point for a data-driven content strategy. We have been working closely with Amsterdam- and Enschede-based content company Blutarsky. Combining our strengths will help in exploring new markets.”

First fund to be run entirely by students

The Dutch Student Investment Fund is the first fund in Europe to be run entirely by students, for students. The fund is open-ended. It invests up to 50,000 euros in start-ups that are in the very early stages, founded by students, PhD candidates or recent graduates. According to Mr Kerkdijk, “The kick-start we provide also opens the doors to additional investors. At the same time, we offer students the opportunity to collaborate in such initiatives. In that way, we uncover a deep well of talent for starting companies and give the students new possibilities to develop in entrepreneurial skills.” The investments take the form of convertible loans which, in the case of subsequent financing, can be converted into shares, for example.

DSIF collaborates closely with Novel-T. Companies receive support from Novel-T during their start-up phase and during the first steps of growth. By providing access to knowledge and connecting with an international network of scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and talent, young entrepreneurs may develop into game changers. By doing so, Novel-T accelerates innovation and creates new opportunities for starting entrepreneurs.