Upstream Festival represents everything great about Rotterdam’s startup ecosystem

Funding opportunities, local initiatives and a welcoming community: Why Rotterdam is a prime location for international innovators like maxwell+spark.

From Durban to Rotterdam

Motivated to create a diesel-free economy, the South African maxwell+spark utilises innovative Li-ion technology to develop sustainable alternatives for industrial mobility systems. Ten years after founding their business in the coastal city of Durban, maxwell+spark looked to the European market to expand their operations.


After considering different European cities, maxwell+spark’s Founder and CEO, Clinton Bemont, landed on Rotterdam as its new home. As a renowned transport hub, Rotterdam is the ideal location for changemakers like Clinton Bemont who dream of a sustainable transport industry. However, Clinton noticed that there are additional benefits to relocating to Rotterdam, stating: “We saw significant value in Rotterdam’s support systems when settling into the city.”

Vibrant Ecosystem

Since the 13th century, the port of Rotterdam has played an important role connecting international traders and visitors with the rest of Europe. Connecting is what Rotterdam is known for - It is in their DNA. This reflects especially in the vibrant startup ecosystem that has developed in Rotterdam over the years. With an array of co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators, campuses and support organisations, Rotterdam’s ecosystem is especially suitable to help international innovators, like maxwell+spark, settle and acclimatise in Rotterdam. But the city is not only for startups and scaleups: Rotterdam aims to become the hub for changemakers that are working towards an inclusive and sustainable economy.


To support these changemakers, local programmes like Up!Rotterdam are tailored to provide them with key resources, opportunities and connections to scale their operations. These programmes aim to create a community of innovators who collaborate and learn from each other, stimulating each other’s growth and development.

To celebrate and grow this diverse community, Up!Rotterdam, along with over 50 public and private co-creation partners, organise Upstream Festival, and with their fifth edition coming up on May 28-29, 2024, ambitions have never been higher.

"The anniversary edition of Upstream highlights our ongoing commitment to supporting startups and scaleups that drive sustainable growth. Sustainable value creation has been at the heart of the festival since the start, five years ago, and it feels more important than ever now. I'm excited to see how the entrepreneurial community around Upstream keeps thriving and getting stronger every year," commented Lars Crama, Upstream Festival.

Upstream Festival

Up!Rotterdam, along with over 50 public and private co-creation partners, is set to host the fifth edition of Upstream Festival on the 28th and 29th of May 2024.

The event aims to unite startup and scaleup founders, investors, innovative corporates, SMEs, and policymakers to foster collaboration and innovation. The festival in Rotterdam, often hailed as Europe’s best-connected city, is expected to attract national and international attendees from various European startup communities, including major hubs like London and Berlin.

Upstream recognises that making a positive change requires the entire ecosystem to come together to share knowledge and stimulate innovation. Since its launch in 2020, Upstream has brought together over 9000 startups, scaleups, investors, corporate buyers, and changemakers to collaborate on meaningful innovations for sustainable growth and Upstream was the facilitator of over 1000 successful matches between founders and talent, investors and buyers.

“During the Upstream Festival CEO Dinner, I got to know Peter Goedvolk, a renowned entrepreneur from Rotterdam and founder of investment firm First Dutch. We kept in contact ever since, and in our investment round last year, we partnered up with Peter and his investment firm to accelerate the hyperloop developments together," said Tim Houter, co-founder of Hardt Hyperloop.

Upstream Festival

Attendees can meet investors during ‘Speed dates’, learn more about complex topics during ‘Deep dives’ and get to know successful entrepreneurs during cozy ‘Fireside chats.’  The variety in activities ensures every visitor will leave Upstream with knowledge and experiences that connect with them.

In addition to Upstream’s main event, visitors can attend 30+ engaging and fun side events hosted by Upstream’s co-creation partners, scattered across Rotterdam and surrounding cities of Delft, The Hague and Zoetermeer.


Upstream has a fantastic programme planned for those attending and invited an array of successful changemakers from all walks of life. Key speakers at Upstream include:

Upstream Festival is due to be a massive success, with players from the entire startup ecosystem touching down in Rotterdam to be part of the fantastic event.

Interested in attending? Grab your tickets here: