Founders’ Friday- The NL Startup Competition Winner, Nadia Fani

This year, Erasmus Enterprise proudly hosted the first NL Startup Competition in collaboration with MT/Sprout, Upstream Festival, and Golden Egg Check. This event marked the first national pitching competition in the Netherlands dedicated to startups. Out of 109 applicants, only 16 teams advanced to the finals. Coastruction participated in the Circular/Sustainable category, and we are excited to learn more about their startup as we sit down with Nadia Fani, the Founder of Coastruction. Our mission is to empower emerging startups by sharing the stories of successful ones. Join us to read more about Nadia’s advice and journey.

Coastruction Overview and Mission

Coastruction develops 3D-printing technology to produce purpose-built reefs. Their mission is to restore marine ecosystems and protect coastlines worldwide. They achieve this by increasing local biodiversity, enhancing environmental quality, and promoting sustainability through this nature-based solution. Their goals include increasing or restoring biodiversity underwater, coastal protection, fostering community engagement, using sustainable materials, advancing reef technology, and partnering with various stakeholders to expand our impact.

Nadia’s journey as an entrepreneur began with a deep passion for 3D printing technology and a desire to tackle the pressing issues of biodiversity loss and coastal erosion. Witnessing the detrimental effects of climate change on marine ecosystems motivated her to explore using 3D printing as one of the solutions to these problems. The potential of 3D-printing technology to create sustainable and effective reef structures was a major catalyst that prompted her to start Coastruction.

Insights for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Nadia advises aspiring entrepreneurs to stay passionate and purpose-driven, as your passion for your mission will drive you through challenges and inspire others to join your cause. She emphasizes the importance of embracing innovation by continuously seeking out and adopting new technologies and methods that can improve your product or service. Building a strong network is crucial; collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations can provide invaluable support and expertise. Learning from failures is essential; each setback is an opportunity to learn and grow, so don’t be discouraged by failures—use them to refine your approach.

Reflecting on her journey, Nadia would place a greater emphasis on believing in her own capabilities. Confidence in oneself is key to overcoming the inevitable challenges faced by entrepreneurs.

Nadia highlights several strategies that have been instrumental in her success. Community engagement has been crucial, involving local communities and stakeholders in projects to ensure success and sustainability. Focusing on sustainability by prioritizing sustainable materials and methods has set a strong foundation for Coastruction’s mission and brand identity. Building strong partnerships with educational institutions, environmental organizations, and industry leaders has been instrumental in advancing Coastruction’s projects.

Navigating Challenges

To navigate challenges and setbacks, Nadia relies on adaptability, being flexible and open to changing approaches when necessary to overcome obstacles and find new solutions. She emphasizes the importance of having a strong team, as a dedicated and passionate team provides strength and diverse perspectives to tackle problems collectively. Continuous learning is also key; staying informed about the latest developments in technology, environmental science, and business practices keeps Coastruction ahead of the curve. Maintaining a clear vision and goals ensures the team stays motivated and focused, even during tough times. Regularly revisiting and reaffirming goals helps maintain momentum and direction.

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Revealed: The 2024 NL Startup Competition Winners

Rotterdam, 30.05.2024: Out of 109 applicants, 16 startups pitched their innovative ideas this Wednesday at the first edition of the NL Startup Competition during the UPSTREAM Festival at Annabel in Rotterdam. Competing in front of an expert jury, the startups showcased their projects in four impact-focused categories: social, energy transition, digital, and circular/sustainable.

Most Innovative Social Startups

The Most Innovative Social Startups recognizes startups making significant contributions to social impact. The winners in this category receive:

1. A €10,000 cash prize to support their continued development and growth: ChatLicense

2. A 1-hour media training session with MT/Sprout to enhance their communication and public relations skills: PAL

3. A 3-month co-working space provided by Erasmus Enterprise, fostering collaboration and innovation within a vibrant entrepreneurial community: Subul & TeachBuddy.

Most Innovative Energy Transition Winner

The Most Innovative Energy Transition Startups category recognizes startups that are driving the shift towards sustainable energy solutions:

1. A €10,000 cash prize to help fuel further innovation and development in their energy transition projects: FLASC B.V.

2. A 1-hour media training session provided by MT/Sprout, aimed at honing their communication skills and enhancing their media presence: Avoxt

3. A unique opportunity to race with Max in an electric Porsche on the circuit in Zandvoort, courtesy of VolkerWessels, providing a thrilling experience and networking opportunity: Tree Composites

4. A 3-month co-working space at BlueCity, fostering collaboration and innovation within a community dedicated to sustainability and circular economy principles: iON-ENERGY.

Most Innovative Digital Startups:

The Most Innovative Digital Startups category honors those startups that are pushing the
boundaries of technology and digital innovation. Winners in this category receive a robust
support package designed to enhance their growth and visibility:

1. A €10,000 cash prize to accelerate their technological advancements and business development: I see U baby care

2. A 1-hour media training session by MT/Sprout, aimed at refining their public speaking and media interaction skills to better promote their innovations: Spatialise

3. An exhilarating opportunity to race with Max in an electric Porsche on the circuit in Zandvoort, provided by VolkerWessels. This unique experience not only offers excitement but also a chance to network with key industry figures: Syntho & TwinAi.

Most Innovative Circular/Sustainable Startups:

The Most Innovative Circular/Sustainable Startups category recognizes startups that are leading the way in sustainability and circular economy practices. Winners in this category receive a comprehensive prize package designed to support their growth and enhance their impact:

1. A €10,000 cash prize to further develop their sustainable initiatives and expand their market presence: Kumasi Drinks

2. A 1-hour media training session by MT/Sprout, equipping them with the skills to effectively communicate their vision and engage with media outlets: Nature’s Principles

3. The prestigious V.O. Patents & Trademarks ‘Innovation Award,’ which includes a patent search valued at €2,500 to protect and advance their innovative solutions: Coastruction

4. An exciting opportunity to race with Max in an electric Porsche on the Zandvoort circuit, courtesy of VolkerWessels. This unique experience not only offers thrill but also provides a valuable networking opportunity: Back to Batteries. 

On top of the category prizes, the judges awarded ChatLicense with an entry ticket to the Top 250 Bootcamp for the Entrepreneurship World Cup. This exclusive ticket offers unparalleled opportunities for mentorship, networking, and furthering their entrepreneurial journey on a global stage. “We’re super excited to go to the Startup World Cup, because this is a global stage and ChatLicense deserves a global stage, because it offers a solution to a global problem” says Marjolein van Tilburg, co-founder of ChatLicense.

A message from the judges:

"The value of this event is to really get to know new ideas, new people and a lot of energy. I really believe that we will stay in touch for a long time and see how we can work together."
Dewi Wesselman
Project Manager ESG & Digital at Damen.

About NL Startup Competition

The first NL Startup Competition is a joint initiative organized by Upstream, MT/Sprout, Golden Egg Check, and Erasmus Enterprise. This initiative is supported by esteemed partners such as the Port of Rotterdam, the Municipality of Rotterdam, V.O. Patents & Trademarks, Rabobank, Damen, VolkerWessels, Econsulate, and HelloPrint.

These organizations have come together to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and to provide a platform for startups to showcase their impactful solutions in various sectors.

Social Category Finalists


PAL (Amie Technologies BV is a digital palliative care platform for timely and efficient access to care for anyone with a life-limiting illness. Pal is a palliative care platform fuelled by family observations that empowers the whole care team. It is a scalable, accessible, and affordable alternative to in-person care, which can be introduced at the earliest point in the patient journey. 

Subul is an impactful global tech talent solution, where cutting-edge technology and a sophisticated platform take center stage. Our mission combines the dynamism of ethical outsourcing and out staffing with the power of advanced tech to unlock the potential of disadvantaged communities, aiming for both business growth and societal transformation. 

TeachBuddy is a peer-tutoring software, that helps schools create large-scale projects in which their students support each other through tutoring. The software matches the right pupils from the same school together, plans when they meet, tracks their progress, and keeps teachers informed. 

ChatLicense offers a smartphone diploma and experience game for kids, where kids earn the use of apps while engaging parents through the parent platform. 

Digital Category Finalists

Syntho is an AI generated synthetic data by generating an entirely new dataset of fresh data records. Therefore information to identify real individuals is simply not present in a synthetic dataset which allows you to share your data without privacy concerns. 

Twin AI provides a low-code AI platform that automates repetitive tasks and integrates various AI models seamlessly. Our solution enables organizations to set up workflows once, automate prompts, and iteratively improve results without the need for continuous coding, making AI adoption more accessible and efficient. 

Spatialise is enabling the regeneration of soils through geospatial intelligence by helping farmers make better use of their assets (stable, machines & land) while decreasing pressure on natural resources for people, planet and prosperity. 

I See U baby care

Our AI software will help uncover and decrease sleep deprivation in hospitalized (pre)term baby’s, leading to better (brain) development, faster growth and fewer infections; altogether we strive for better changes at a healthy future. For more information contact:

Energy Transition Finalists

Avoxt BV offers a membrane less electrolyzer that has ultra-low maintenance, high up time and high efficiency, therefore reducing the cost of green hydrogen with 25%. 

FLASC HPES (Hydro-Pneumatic Energy Storage) offers the first solution tailored for colocation with offshore wind. With the co-located FLASC HPES system, offshore wind farms can become an active provider of grid flexibility when using energy storage. Recent studies show that this can add 10-20% more value to the wind farm output by improving the way it is monetized. For more information visit this website

iON-ENERGY utilizes its patented energy harvesting technology to produce clean electricity for domestic use, 24/7/ 365. The home device called the E-Box will revolutionize the way households can obtain the best energy solution for the best price. The E-box will provide 5,000 kWh per year, which is more than most household use per year. It is portable, does not require installation, and is more affordable than the alternative solar panels. 

Developing composite joints to enable better, lighter and cheaper jacket foundations for offshore wind turbines. 

Circular/Sustainable Finalists

The energy transition causes a material transition with a few local sources and vulnerable supply chains.Back to Battery offers a closed-loop circular solution for end-of-life Li ion batteries, producing critical raw materials locally and sustainable, reducing CO2 by >90% and minimizing waste. 

Building a sustainable future with nature-inspired and purpose-built 3D-printed reefs for marine life restoration, conservation and coastal protection. By leveraging unique powder bed technology, Coastruction creates sustainable substrates that blend seamlessly into the natural environment, addressing the urgent threats facing marine ecosystems. Our multifunctional solution not only restores damaged reef systems but also protects vulnerable coastlines and boosts local economies. 

We fight food waste and income waste by upcycling cacao fruit into appealing fast moving consumer products. We revolutionize the cacao industry, uplift farmers, and create delicious products, first within the beverages category and now across others. We do this by pioneering the vertical integration of cacao fruit as a new ingredient for a wide range of consumer products and expanding on the innovations of upcycling more parts of the pods (husk). 

We offer a ground-breaking process for lactic acid production to make biopolymers from residual streams. Production of lactic acid and derivatives from 2G feedstocks in a cost-effective operation. 

For Media Inquiries: ​

Erasmus Enterprise
Johanna Raats
Marketing & Communications Lead