January 10, 2022

How Amsterdam Science Park helps a top educational tech company thrive

Like a virtual teaching assistant, e-learning platform SOWISO helps university students get further in their study programmes by bridging knowledge gaps in mathematics. CEO Marc Habbema explains how Amsterdam Science Park provides the ideal location for a company building momentum.

Academic partnerships and co-creation

Part of the reason behind choosing Amsterdam Science Park as a base is that SOWISO works closely with academic institutions at the park whose students its products are designed for. University of Amsterdam (UvA) departments have collaborated with SOWISO since its earliest stages and Habbema describes them as “a major growth contributor”.

“They were one of the first clients that we had for the e-learning platform. Ever since, we have been working closely together with them: they provide us with good input for specific functionalities or specific e-learning content, and we can then develop that. On the other hand, they are like the perfect pilot partner for us. They’re open to piloting our new functionalities or new features or new products. So that type of cooperation really, really pays off for both parties”.

Marc Habbema, CEO SOWISO “It’s nice to offer our employees a bit more than just the nine to five office hours ”

Hiring bright minds

The UvA and Amsterdam University College institutions at the park also supply SOWISO with high-performing talent. “They send over very smart interns. So, it’s also really helpful”, says Habbema. Securing tech talent is top of mind for digital innovators who rely on highly skilled employees. However, SOWISO has successfully recruited its current team without the need for a third-party recruitment agency. “I think we have been very, very lucky, because we have been able to just find our new colleagues through our own network”. Many of these employees are non-Dutch, and the internationally oriented networks and facilities at Amsterdam Science Park support them.

In addition, Amsterdam Science Park’s Startup Village, cafés, restaurants and various shared spaces allow companies like SOWISO to offer their employees an attractive working environment. “That’s important for our demographics when we look at our employees. It’s nice to offer to them a bit more than just the nine to five office hours.”

Room to move and grow

On a practical level, the Matrix Innovation Center has been able to accommodate SOWISO’s exponential growth by offering flexible leases on office space at the park. Next year, the company will move offices for the fifth time in 10 years into the new Matrix ONE building, which opens in September. Here they’ll work alongside other innovative companies with even more opportunities for collaboration and networking.

And teaming up with great people is really what it’s all about. Habbema’s advice to other companies is to connect with skilled talent who can make a real difference to their business ambitions. “If you’re starting a company, it starts in advance with the having the correct employees and the best employees. Without them, your great ideas will not work”.

To find out what Amsterdam Science Park can offer your company, get in touch with the Science & Business Organisation.

Screenshot E-learning tool Sowiso

About SOWISO

The world needs more STEM talent, and Amsterdam is no exception. Dutch innovators pinpointed the subject areas that prevent some students from progressing into STEM career paths, namely, basic maths, basic statistics, algebra and calculus. SOWISO’s interactive learning tools improve proficiency in these subjects, removing the barrier for those who can’t continue in a chosen degree programme because of a basic mathematics requirement. Founders Marc Habbema and Max Cohen find all things mathematical less of a challenge themselves. “We do really like math!”, says Habbema.

Of course, SOWISO’s commercial success has taken more than just a head for numbers. Originally a spinoff created in partnership with Eindhoven University of Technology, it has gone from strength to strength as an education-meets-tech-meets-publishing company. Known internationally as Bolster Academy, SOWISO is an abbreviation for SOftware voor WISkunde Onderwijs, (software for mathematics education). Taking a “digital-first” approach to their product proved effective, and the company has made several prestigious shortlists including Deloitte’s 50 fastest-growing tech companies of 2021.

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