Rabobank and PLNT offer innovative startups a big helping hand

23 May 2024

Cooperative Rabobank and PLNT have renewed their partnership for another three years. With the collaboration, both organisations are giving innovative startups in the Leiden region significant support towards successful entrepreneurship. And with good reason: ‘We desperately need innovative start-ups to succeed in the transitions we face as a society.’

PLNT in Leiden inspires, facilitates and supports talented students, researchers and aspiring entrepreneurs to develop their innovative ideas. With successful entrepreneurship as the ultimate goal. ‘We do that with a diverse range of programmes,’ says director Bastiaan de Roo. ‘mbo, hbo and wo-students, researchers and start-ups who have a good, innovative idea with impact can follow different programme lines with us. We also provide accommodation at our location for these start-ups. We help them get started and over time – usually after about three or four years – they fly out. Our entire community consists of more than five hundred people who have access to the building and our programmes.’

From idea to enterprise

It is important for the Leiden region to have a centre for innovation and entrepreneurship like PLNT, says Bastiaan. ‘With the university, college and MBO courses and the many knowledge institutes in this region, there is a lot of knowledge available. And you can find plenty of people with innovative ideas here. Yet successful companies do not automatically emerge from this. It is a long and difficult process to start a company around a product that does not yet exist at all. With the guidance we offer, more and more good, innovative ideas with impact see the light of day’.

Important partner

PLNT does not do this alone, but together with other partners. An important partner is Rabobank. ‘Who has been involved with us from day one,’ says Bastiaan. ‘The bank offers our students and start-ups access to financial services, the Rabo Impact Fund and the Rabo Innovation Loan. For start-ups, it is very interesting to be close to that and see what the possibilities are. Equally important are the knowledge and expertise of the Rabobank employees who are part of our community. They have a workplace here at PLNT, join workshops and act as jury members. For example, at pitch evenings. Then they watch and give good feedback. The bank is also part of the programme of the PLNT Festival every year. In addition, Rabobank’s large network is of course very interesting for us.’

Big transitions

Conversely, Rabobank is also enthusiastic about the partnership and its renewal. ‘PLNT plays a vital role in growing start-ups in the Leiden region,’ says SME advisor Nona Speur. ‘To get from ideas to businesses, you need a network, knowledge and expertise. PLNT provides all that.’ Start-ups are an important target group for Rabobank, says Nona. ‘We are facing some major transitions as a society, such as sustainability and a circular economy. Innovative start-ups are desperately needed for those transitions to succeed. As a cooperative bank, we therefore consider it essential to be part of the PLNT community and help these start-ups move forward.’

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