Guest post: Silicon Canals and Red Light Ruby – Amsterdam as a technology hub

This is a guest post by Edo van Royen (@edo), a Dutch native and co-founder of e-learning startup StudyFlow.

Over the past few years something interesting seems to be happening within the liberal confines of the capital we Dutchies refer to as Amsterdam: Amsterdam has come to be one of the most vibrant and upcoming technology hubs in Europe.

Does the fact that Amsterdam is of such liberal climate, something that has characterized the Valley, contribute to the incredible amount of new tech startups? Of the latter I’m not sure, but of one thing I am; with startups like: MynameisE, Wakoopa, Layar, Mobypicture, Twittercounter and Zaypay adorning our canals (sometimes quite literally, Mobypicture houses all its developers in a boat called the Mobyboat), Amsterdam with its rainy and cold weather, seems to entertain the perfect climate for entrepreneurs looking to find something Silicon to grow their dreams upon.

Why is this, and how has this come to be? I present TechCrunch Europe readers with 3 reasons why Amsterdam is the place to feel free and chase your dreams.

Cosy atmosphere

Let’s start by declaring that Amsterdam is a great city to live in; if you don’t warm to the cosy atmosphere (yes, I said cosy) of little canals, housy cafés and village-like allure packed within a small city, the facilities and people will certainly tip you over the edge. I agree, Dutch people in general aren’t always the most socially agreeable kind of people; but there’s a subset of tech-enthusiasts in Amsterdam that exhibit all the right qualities to be around as a startup.

English, we speak it.

I challenge you to find somebody in Amsterdam that doesn’t speak at least basic English. Expats living in the Netherlands often complain that they aren’t able to learn the Dutch language just because of this. There’s not a Dutch soul that won’t out of habit revert to English if you attempt to speak our harsh Germanic language.

Local Incubator policy

The municipality of Amsterdam has a unique incubator policy, promoting and subsidizing the creation of cheap workspaces. To be fair; this policy is mostly aimed at artists, but what many startups in Amsterdam don’t fully realize is that a lot of these spaces are accepting their temporary use for fledgling startups. This map gives a good impression of the impact this policy is having. Every mark on the map is an incubator.

Vibrant community

Amsterdam has always been a society of traders and entrepreneurs; it’s the only way our small country was able to keep afloat amidst the giants of the old world. Starting with the Dutch East India Company (the first multinational corporation and the first company ever to issues shares) followed by giants like Shell, Heineken and Ahold and finally; the vibrant tech-startup community in Amsterdam today. If I had to name one place in Europe where startups, conferences and meetups are most tightly packed in a small area; it has to be Amsterdam. Sure, London, Paris or Berlin are cities in a more traditional sense, but have you ever considered the importance of startup communities sitting close to eachother? Surely those who attend the annual ‘The Next Web Conference’ must agree, Amsterdam is bustling with daring pirates and audacious entrepreneurs.

Harr! won’t ye landlobbers join us?