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May 8, 2023

From Vision to Action: WorldStartup’s 2022 Impact Highlights






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Camila Ugarte

Communications & Marketing Intern

Measuring impact is a complex process that requires time and effort. Despite the eagerness of many organisations to quantify and communicate their impact, challenges may be encountered when working towards defining, measuring, and reporting ‘impact’ effectively. It is important to consider all results of an initiative, including the positive outcomes and any potential shortcomings.

At WorldStartup, we are committed to creating positive impact and firmly believe that an inclusive and regenerative economy is essential for a sustainable future. We strive to prioritise positive impact in all our initiatives, yet, we recognise that the path towards achieving this goal is an ongoing learning process. We actively seek out opportunities to exchange knowledge and experiences with like-minded individuals and organisations who share our passion for driving positive change within our local and global communities.

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Over the past few months, we have been working hard to establish a framework based on our pillars of action, themes, and values. We're thrilled to showcase to you WorldStartup's impact highlights of 2022. This preview provides a glimpse of what you can look forward to in our upcoming yearly series of Impact Reports.

Our focus in 2022

We took the time to reflect on our work over the past seven years. Starting as an Accelerator in 2015 and shifting to Support and Innovation in 2019, we recognised the need for a new approach to scale our efforts and help more impact startups thrive. Although we have made significant progress, we believe the best is yet to come.

Last year was focused on restructuring, optimising, and preparing to scale our reach. We prioritised our portfolio startups, internal organisation, as well as our communities within the innovation hubs.

We laid the foundation of a global platform for changemakers. Here, we find, unite, and support changemakers; co-create innovation programmes; and help impact driven entrepreneurs get access to markets, capital, knowledge and resources. To achieve this, it was essential to align our goal, of improving and accelerating support for global changemakers, among the three units of WorldStartup (the Lab, Studio, and Funding Support).

Driving Progress Forward

We are actively engaging with partners and startups in our global community to build and amplify impact in the areas of an equitable society, climate change, and biodiversity. Through our work, we have developed best practices to contribute to meaningful change.

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Startups’ Impact

Our portfolio startups’ efforts go beyond the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is why we are steadily creating better ways to measure and showcase their positive impact results. The following chart shows the number of startups in our portfolio working on each SDG. Note that a startup can work on more than one SDG at the same time.

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Our startups are focusing on a variety of areas with great impact, including:

  1. Smart cities solutions (housing, infrastructure, urban wellbeing)
  2. Minimising and upcycling waste
  3. Facilitating children’s education
  4. Sustainable farming and horticulture
  5. Ethical fashion and Business Management
  6. Sustainability awareness
  7. Data optimisation

Starting from 2023, we will further measure the impact on each goal and expand the list of impact areas to be used for the creation of innovation hubs. By doing so, we aim to foster long-lasting connections between the startups and key stakeholders in their field.

uHoo, a startup from our Altitude Programme, indicates their top impact achievements of 2022 to be the significant progress they have made on improving the health and well-being of their clients while decarbonising their premises. Their efforts have positively impacted SDGs 3, 5, 11, and 12. Currently, uHoo is working towards a B-Corp certification and have begun setting up an actionable reporting system for tracking their positive impact. This is just one example of the many impactful ventures we support.

Good workshop. Ideas and insights helped us further refine the metrics that we currently track.

- Dustin Jefferson, co-founder and CEO of uHoo, on attending the Impact Reporting workshop this April.

WorldStartup Impact - support for changemakers

WorldStartup facilitated a number of events in 2022, including:

  • 6 offline Startup Tuesdays with around 30 participants each,
  • 8 online GovTech meetups,
  • 1 edition to resurrect the Art-Tech-Culture conference 'BorderSessions',
  • 1 offline round-table session in July,
  • Online expert talks on various topics such as incentive plans, storytelling, the Dutch tax system, and impact measurement.

The December edition of Capital Tours was one of our most impactful events of the year, where we hosted 22 startups, 12 investors, and 20+ ecosystem partners to network together in The Hague.

Finally, we also hosted a workshop on building communities and innovation hubs at ImpactFest, highlighting our commitment to supporting changemakers by nurturing the startup ecosystem.

On another note, WorldStartup offers a range of tailored services to support changemakers in accelerating their impact. In 2022, the most impactful tailored support services were the Clean Rivers programme and the Transform Hackathon.

Startup Visas Facilitated

WorldStartup is a recognised Visa facilitator. In total, we facilitated an estimate of 21+ startup visas throughout 2022.

Next to the facilitation of our portfolio founders, we build bridges for field-specific startups. In 2021 and 2022, in partnership with The Hague Business Agency, ThinkAg and other partners, we hosted the digital version of the Soft Landing programme - a support initiative aimed at identifying promising international solutions which can be applied in Europe.

Last year, the Soft Landing programme assisted 11 startups based in India, with exploring and accessing the AgFoodTech market of The Netherlands. The startups benefited from a valuable learning experience and personalised introductions which were rated as "very useful" by the participants.

The programme also identified the top 3 most promising startups, which are now well-prepared to begin the process of expansion and visa application. Even for the startups who are currently unable or no longer wish to expand in The Netherlands, the programme has proven to be an effective tool for advancing innovation, promoting cross-border collaboration and gaining direction for their future efforts.

Collective Innovation Hub Efforts

By combining all of the WorldStartup units, we have been able to consolidate the support provided to changemakers worldwide, resulting in accelerated innovation in specific impact areas.

We are proud to have further developed our existing innovation hubs, such as GovTechNL, Sustainable Aviation, and the Coalition of Humanitarian Innovators.

In 2022, we marked the beginning of two new innovation hubs: the Green Growth Coalition and Happy Hospitality. These new hubs have already started paving the way for many more innovation hubs to come, such as the “Nepal Startup Nation”.

Bring It On, 2023!

Operating within a diverse network of partnerships and collaborations, we recognise that reporting on impact can be challenging. However, we remain committed to being an example to other organisations, as well as for our startups and innovation hubs, by finding suitable ways to measure, analyse, and amplify our positive impact.

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Through the years, we have learned a few key lessons:

  1. Having a team that shares aligned values enables us to optimise our processes and provide feedback on best practices.
  2. We acknowledge that we need to centralise our efforts towards accumulating information, resources, and impact results.
  3. We recognise the need for transparency. We are working towards this by regularly sharing both struggles and celebrations, both internally and externally.

As we continue in 2023, we are renewing our B-Corp certification and mapping out new ideas to improve our scores and performance. An important focus lies on refining our theory of change and enhancing our platform by gradually adding more value and tools. We are excited to share a snapshot of our envisioned theory of change.

Our aim is to positively impact the lives of one billion people by implementing the principles of an inclusive and regenerative economy. To achieve this goal, we want to join forces with 10,000 changemakers worldwide who could help us accelerate the creation of a more equitable and sustainable world for all.

We look forward to sharing our inspirations, sources, and results with you all in the Impact Report 2023, which is to be published in March-April 2024. Stay tuned!

Please share your thoughts and comments, and join us on this journey.

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