It was a fitting setting; the guests, made up of officials from the Amsterdam City Council, Royal FloraHolland directors, growers and supporting family members and friends gathered under a leafy canopy of green ferns and cascading pitcher plants hung from the ceiling of the newly opened B2. It’s the latest expansion of B. Amsterdam, which has a long-standing reputation as a breeding-ground for innovation and is the largest startup coworking space in Europe. As of Monday, it can now also boast the world’s first incubator for plants and flowers. A conspicuous neon sign illuminating the words ‘WE LOVE GREEN CITIES’ gave a futuristic, urban jungle feel to the space which would aptly house businesses that hope to reconnect city dwellers with plants and flowers and help create future, green, urban utopias.
Let it Grow founder Silke Tijkotte opened the event by underlining the importance of providing a platform for entrepreneurs who work to create new channels that welcome more greenery into the city, which would in turn help improve the quality of our urban lives. She was followed by Lucas Vos, who expressed his gratitude towards Let it Grow for bringing a newfound dynamism to the floriculture market.
The floor was then given over to the teams; the people who had been selected after a 5 month-long Open Innovation Call and who had battled for a place on the programme in front of a panel of judges only a month before at the Zoku Hotel. First up was Suzanne van Straaten from plant box delivery service, Sprinklr, who, as usual, carried a green-filled Sprinklr box by her side. She was followed by Mila van de Wall, co-owner of Wildernis, Amsterdam’s favourite go-to-shop for green. Toon Roozen presented his amazing micro-green-growing machine, Grown, reiterating his ingenious slogan ‘Cress to Impress’. Bennie Meek, the co-founder of Gewildgroei, which translates as ‘Wanted Weeds’, presented an open tile-system that would encourage weed growth in cities which he created with fellow designer Vincent Wittenberg.
From the design studio We Umbrella, Ermi van Oers brings the science-fiction-like possibilities of green tech to Class 1 with her project Living Light as she explained to the audience how she created a lamp that generated light from energy released by bacteria in the soil. Garden-monitoring apps Gardian and ConnectedGarden also displayed how they use technology to redefine the way that we grow things. ConnectedGarden hopes to make creating lush gardens much easier while the Gardian app keeps you up close and personal with your plant with daily updates about its wellbeing.
Prince Constantijn, a long-time ambassador of the Dutch startup scene and head of StartupDelta2020 closed the event by stressing the leading role the Netherlands has to play when it comes to green innovation- we have the knowledge, the resources, and the years of industry experience, and we should work hard to turn ideas into innovations across the board. Over the next five months, the teams will be mentored on how to grow their businesses by experts such as director of StartupAmsterdam Ruben Nieuwenhuis and founder of Dutch Lean Startup Circle, Robbert van Geldrop. Let it Grow will follow their journey as they find new ways of spreading the green virus through cities.
Watch this video we created during the festive opening of the Let it Grow Lab.