Give your business a boost with the TOP Program.
The TOP program is a (pre-)seed fund for innovative startups in Twente. For a period of one year, it offers comprehensive support to businesses in the form of legal advice, communication advice, access to networks and interest-free loans. For more than twenty-five years, the TOP program has been offering financial support and assistance with business development to hundreds of innovative organizations.
The TOP program is there for all innovative starting and growing organizations in Twente who (want to) collaborate with the University of Twente and/or Saxion.
Entrepreneurs who manage to acquire a TOP position will receive support in the following forms:
- Support from coaches with developing the business plan;
- Professional market scan that offers valuable insights;
- A loan of €40,000 with excellent terms, including zero interest and no repayment during the first (and under conditions) the second years.
- Support by Mazars Accountants to set up a proper financial administration in order to successfully acquire this loan;
- Coaching and advice pertaining to legal matters, including corporate law;
- Support from IP specialists with matters pertaining to protecting your idea or invention;
- Support and advice pertaining to marketing and communication;
- Support with finding knowledge- or technical intensive support for a product or service from the University of Twente and/or Saxion;
- Business coaching;
- The option to use Novel-T’s offices and meeting rooms;
- Access to relevant top-quality networks;
- A one-year membership to Technologie Kring Twente.
Conditions of participation
In order to apply for a position in the program, a number of conditions have to be met:
- The business is no older than five years and has or will have a Chamber of Commerce registration;
- An innovative and/or knowledge-intensive and scalable business case;
- The business has not applied for and been granted a TOP position in the past;
- The business demonstrably contributes to the economic development of the East Netherlands region;
- There is a collaboration between the company and the University of Twente and/or Saxion or there is a realistic plan and it is plausible from the company and the knowledge institution that this collaboration will be established in the short term.
Procedure for applying for TOP Program
To qualify for the TOP program, the following procedure must be followed:
1. Intake meeting with the coordinator
2. Submission of intake form (Check conditions of participation)
3. Support in improving business plan (workshop, accountant, one-to-one meetings)
4. Submission of final business plan + check completeness (deadline: every first Wednesday of the month)
5. Presentation and rating by TOP commission (scheduled: every third Wednesday of the month, however, there are no TOP meetings in august)
6. After approval, an explanation of the supporting services on offer in the TOP programme, including the provision of the TOP loan
7. Upon allocation: connection with external parties that provide support to the TOP program
8. 6-month evaluation with the TOP commission
9. Final evaluation with the TOP commission after one year
Intake form for TOP Program
We ask you to fill in the form completely, but only after the intake meeting with the coordinator. You can find the intake form here. Please fill this in completely and we will contact you for further procedure.
Assessment and committee
The TOP Committee is made up of experienced entrepreneurs and possibly supplemented with representatives from the UT, Saxion, Business Development team and financial experts. The committee meets on every third Wednesday of the month for the presentations of the potential TOP participants. The decision is based on the presentation and the business plan.
The committee expects a short pitch of 5 minutes in relation to the business plan. Subsequently, there is another 25 minutes to spar with the committee to gain a good understanding of the business case. Afterward, the commission discusses the business plan and presentation. The coordinator will contact you as soon as possible about the decision.
The TOP committee particularly assesses the extent:
- to which there is a well-considered, realistic, innovative and scalable business model that (preferably) solves a problem in the market;
- to market validation has taken place;
- to which there is an entrepreneurial and complementary team (financial, technical, commercial);
- it can be expected that the TOP loan can be repaid;
- there is already access to the market (or whether this can be expected in the near future);
- there is a demonstrable competitive advantage;
- the financial figures are realistic and correct;
- to which there is cooperation between the company and the University of Twente and/or Saxion or whether it is realistic that this will be achieved.
Based on the (written) information and pitch, the TOP committee will decide:
- to award a TOP position, whether or not under certain conditions or;
- not to award a TOP position because the set criteria are insufficiently met or;
- to ask further questions and, if it so wishes, to give the entrepreneur the opportunity to pitch again.
Key points for the business plan
There are a number of things that must be described in the business plan:
- Financial paragraph with the TOP loan and repayment obligation;
- The motivation for submitting a proposal to the TOP programme;
- Evidence of the added value for the East Netherlands region (e.g. location of business)
- How cooperation with Saxion and UT is envisaged.
You’ll find a concise checklist of the business plan here. In case you need extra information for writing the business plan or draw up the financial part, the coordinator can supply in this.
What do we expect from a TOP participant?
The TOP programme offers a huge amount of financial and practical advantages. Both financial and practical. We expect, in return, a certain level of effort from a TOPper. This effort should be obvious at the final meeting at which we expect the following from the entrepreneur:
- A presentation of the state of progress of the business plan;
- Transparency and an overview of the use of TOP loan;
- Annual financial report for the year ended from an accounts department. The annual report must be signed by an accountant. The signature confirms for the committee that the report has been fully and properly authorized and compiled;
- Should any of these not be submitted to the committee or are deemed unsatisfactory, then a decision may be taken against the granting of interest-free funding for the second and third years. Interest will then be charged after year one.
The monitor of TOP results
Countless businesses have acquired a TOP position in the past. The TOP support has helped many of these companies realize impressive growth. We monitor these results periodically. You will find an overview of the success rates here.
Since 1987, the TOP program has allowed entrepreneurs from our region to continue to grow sustainably. Many companies have already preceded you.
Frequently asked questions
You’ll find all the frequently asked questions here. We have tried to be as complete as possible with these FAQs. However, if you cannot find the answers you are looking for please contact the coordinator.
Meet our Fund Manager
Starting, growing and the technical realisation of innovative business ideas often comes in handy with access to capital. Are you on the hunt for financial support for your innovation? Do not hesitate to contact me. Over a coffee I will help you sorting out your way to funding.