Can you describe the process/structure of the programme?

The programme is built up in the following phases: 1) Deep dives &Kick-off; 2) Lean Basics; 3) Options & Decisions; 4) Validate & Prototyping; 5) Launching Customer.

  1. The first phase is the official opening of the Programme, a first introduction to the public/municipality and the deep dives with the responsible civil servant/mentor/startup. During the deep dives goals are set and expectations are managed.
  2. The second phase is all about getting to know each other better and getting to know the lean startup basics. During this period the startup will follow a training programme, have a weekly lunch meeting and a two-weekly meeting with their mentor.
  3. The third phase is critical for the rest of the process since this is when the most important decisions on how to proceed are made.
  4. Phase four is the ‘Validate & Prototyping’ phase. The prototypes are going to be validated and tested. This phase is based on three key principles: Build – Measure – Learn. This is an on-going process.
  5. The last phase is ‘launching customer’. If solutions prove successful, the City of Amsterdam will invest in the startup as a launching customer and thereby significantly kick-start the startup’s career.

You are an official startup visa facilitator, how can I apply for a visa?

We can only act as a visa facilitator if the Startup is a participant of the Startup in Residence Programme. The organisation does not accept requests from non-participating startups.

You can find more information about the startup visa here below (see section 1.4 of the request for tender, the complete tender can also be found on our ‘apply’ section).

1.4 Startup Visa Facilitator
Since 2015, ambitious entrepreneurs can apply for a temporary residence permit for the Netherlands. The residence permit ‘scheme for startups’ affords entrepreneurs one year to launch an innovative business. A prerequisite is that the startup must be guided by an experienced mentor (facilitator) who is based in the Netherlands.

The City is a recognised facilitator and is qualified to guide startups that would like to apply for a startup (residence) permit in the Netherlands. To qualify for the City’s guidance as facilitator, the Startup will have to be a participant of the Programme. When a Startup is selected and accepted to the Programme, it can request that the Startup in Residence organisation act as its facilitator. The Startup in Residence organisation will consider the request and will make the final decision on whether it will take on the role as facilitator.

The City and the Startup in Residence organisation have no obligation to act as a facilitator for Startups participating in the Programme.

For more general information about the residence permit for startups in the Netherlands and the application procedure, see:

When the City becomes launching customer, the startup must be based in Amsterdam, are the workspaces the City offers during the programme considered as valid as well?

No, when the City decides to invest in the solution and becomes launching customer, the startup must base itself in the Metropolitan Area of Amsterdam (as you can read in the Tender for Request). 

Who and how many people are in the assessment committee?

The selection committee consists of highly skilled and knowledgeable people. There is no fixed amount of committee members, but in general there will be the civil servant responsible for the challenge (client), an expert on innovation, an expert on entrepreneurship and someone from the Startup in Residence Programme.

What is the preferred language for the application and the presentation?

The application and presentation can be both in Dutch or English.

Is Startup in Residence a subsidy program?

No, it is not.

Can we get paid for the development of the product?

This is not the intention of the programme. However, if it’s beneficial for the development of the solution the municipality can decide to help te startup develop the product/solution.

Is it certain that the City becomes launching customer?

No, the City has the intention to become launching customer at the end of the programme. This all depends on the provided solution of the startup. Intention is not the same as a promise.

How many days a week is the programme?

1 – 1,5 days per week.

Can I apply for more than one challenge?

Yes, you can apply for every challenge. Please note that you have to fill in a new application form for each new challenge.

Does the startup remain owner of the product/service?

Yes, the startup remains 100% owner of the product/service.

What is the deadline for asking questions?

The deadline for asking questions is 24 September (23.59pm).

Can the City decide to purchase sooner? For example, after 2 months?

Yes, that is possible.

If i want to apply for different challenges, do I have to fill in one application form or several?

For each challenge you need to fill in a new application.

If I have one and the same solution for three different challenges what should I do regarding the application?

You can apply with the same solution for all the three different challenges with a separate application.

Is having a business plan/model optional or required?

There has to be a business model. This does not have to be the definitive version because further development of the business plan/ business model is part of the Startup in Residence Programme.

Does this programme help with seed capital to sustain running the products in upcoming time period?

The main objective of this programme is not to help startups get seed capital. If it’s beneficial for the development of the solution the municipality can decide to help te startup develop the product/solution.

Can the proposal be an offshoot of an existing business, where the offshoot will become a separate startup?

Yes, this is possible, provided that you meet the requirements for startups as explained on the website.

Can existing initiatives/companies offer themselves as potential partners for startups?

Very much so. This programme is partner driven. We are always on the lookout for partners and coaches: parties that can help startups and the municipality to make the programme successful.

Is the contract rewarded to the startup, or the person representing the startup?

To the startup as it is registered at the Chamber of Commerce. A one-man business is a possibility.

Does all communication during the programme have to be in English, bilingual, or Dutch?

All of these options are possible. It depends on the participating startups.

Is it possible to work at a distance for a part of the programme?

The programme will take about 8 to 12 hours per week. Presence on these days is obligatory. For the other days working at a distance is possible.

Is the startup programme fulltime?

No, the programme will take about 8 to 12 hours per week.

Are there mentors within the Startup in Residence programme that can help with doing research?

Yes, there are a lot of connections with scientific institutes such as Amsterdam Metropolitan Solutions and the University of Amsterdam. We have an extensive network to which we can connect not yet participating mentors when a startup has a particular demand for this.

Can the solution also be implemented in other municipalities?

Certainly. Scalability is one of the assessment criteria. The City of Amsterdam can even help you connect to other cities.

Is it possible to apply as a startup with a consortium of various social organisations?

Yes, a consortium of natural persons (freelancers, sole proprietorship, general partnership) may participate in the programme as long as you do not have more than ten salaried employees and fulfil all other requirements as stated on the website. You cannot apply as a consortium of legal entities. It is possible to explain how the startup will cooperate with other parties who do not participate in the programme.

Do you have to be registered as a resident in Amsterdam to apply for the programme?

No, that’s not a requirement. If the City decides to purchase the product/service of the startup when the programme has finished, it is a requirement that the company or a subsidiary of the company is registered in Amsterdam.

Is it possible to apply for multiple social challenges

Yes, it is possible to apply for multiple social challenges. For each challenge you need to fill out a new application form.

Can I partner with multiple cities?

Startups will focus on one city during the 6-month programme, but SIRA provides opportunities to learn from, share experiences and network with other municipalities.

How often do I need to work in-person with the City?

Schedules will be agreed upon with your partnering department, but at least 1 person from your team must be available in person once per week to meet with your client and participate in all trainings and workshops.

Where do startups work? Is office space provided?

The City will provide work space (access may vary) and the startups will be introduced to strategic accelerator and local co-working space partners.

How is SIRA different than a government contract?

SIRA is a programme opportunity to test ideas and develop new technology products and services. It is not a substitute for a contract to sell an existing product or service to government. It is the City’s intention to act as launching customer at the end of the programme.

Why should I apply?

SIRA allows startups to work with city partners to build, refine and/or co-develop products that address critical and meaningful social challenges. It is the City’s intention to act as launching customer at the end of the programme. The 6-month SIRA programme also includes:

  • Training/workshops (an incubator programme of the City and its partners) for an average of four hours a week;
  • Professional mentoring/coaching;
  • Internal content guidance from the City;
  • Peer-to-peer learning;
  • Workspace (at partners and the City);
  • The network of the City;
  • Process support;
  • Product or service development;
  • Access to startup events;
  • The City can act as a Startup Visa Facilitator.

What is the duration of the Programme? What happens after?

SIRA is a 6-month programme. It is the City’s intention to act as launching customer at the end of the programme.

Does the Programme provide any kind of bursary or financial support regarding employment/housing throughout the incubation period?

No, the Programme does not provide any kind of bursary or financial support for rent expenses or employees pay etc.

Social Challenges

#20 Wildcard: What are the criteria for a successful solution? I.e. what is the point at which a solution is deemed mature for adoption?

The proposal of the startup will be assessed based on the assessment criteria. When selected the municipality and the startup will evaluate how the product or service of the startup can be further developed. The goal of the municipality is become a Launching Customer for the startup.

#20 Wildcard: Should there be a business plan/business model at this stage?

There has to be a business model. This does not have to be the definitive version because further development of the business plan/ business model is part of the startup in residence programme.

#20 Wildcard: The social challenges are fairly specific. How can a wildcard proposal avoid that the challenge tackled does not have a key stakeholder (e.g. dept.) within the City of Amsterdam.

Depending on the specific solution the startup offers, the municipality will make sure that the stakeholder within the municipality will be involved.

#20 Wildcard: Can the offered solution also be a service instead of a product?


#20 Wildcard: Is there another way to show my concept if I do not have a prototype?

If you offer a product for which there has to be a prototype, this is a requirement. If you offer a service it is possible to show a prototype of your service. It is important that you can present what you have to offer and what the benefits of your service are.

#20 Wildcard: If I do not have an MVP/prototype/beta version because I offer a service, is it then still possible to participate in the programme?

Not having a physical prototype does not mean that you cannot participate in the programme. It’s also possible to show a prototype of your service. Most important is that you can show what you have to offer and what benefits it brings.