Navigate through the valley of death

to get your breakthrough technology towards global impact!

Are you an ambitious deeptech startup that wants to get ahead of the race as fast as possible?

Pole Position connects you to peers, seasoned Deeptech entrepreneurs and Techleaps experienced and well-connected community. Together, we work on your challenges while developing a strong roadmap through the valley of death towards your dot on the horizon: a global scale company!

A new round for Pole Position, will open for applicants in July 2024.

Pole Position in short

Starting a Deeptech company is very challenging. Developing complex technology, operating in a complicated ecosystem while accessing the market, raising money ahead of traction and keeping up the spirit for yourself and your growing team requires a high level of ambition, vision, focus and endurance.

Because we need these breakthrough technologies to find their way to success through the valley of death Techleap designed Pole Position. A programme that challenges you and your team on your vision & ambition, market access, business model, leadership & team and funding roadmap. Pole Position is our flagship programme for entrepreneurs only to level with peers and get challenged by experts and seasoned founders that are already ahead of the race.

Who is the programme for

This program is for Deeptech founders that:
– Want to get challenged
– Need to go from successful pilot to commercial deployment
– Are speeding up towards Series A funding

Are you aiming for global impact and does your venture have scaling potential? Then you might be selected based on the criteria (in the image) below. Our next batch will be announced in July 2024 and will focus on ventures that develop breakthrough products & services that combine advanced hardware and digital technologies. 

Applications can range from (TBD – depending on next focus theme).



“The most important payoff for me was that they bring together a community for collective learning.”
– Aiosyn

“So far, the most insightful time and effort I’ve spent on learning how to successfully scale our organisation and connecting with fellow deep-tech entrepreneurs.”
– VSParticle

“The Pole Position programme allowed me to connect with other deep tech founders about common challenges we all share even if the technology we work on can differ wildly. I highly recommend the programme as I had many useful takeaways on team growth, funding, pitching, and scaling.”
– Applied Nanolayers

No Palm Ingredients

“The Pole Position programme has forced us to increasingly move between day-to-day focus and a helicopter view, allowing us to plan further ahead than we would otherwise have done.”
– No Palm Ingredients


“From the beginning on I had the feeling that I was in a safe space where I could speak up and discuss my challenges.”
– Nostics


“The Pole Position programme strengthened our beliefs in focus and solving one problem at a time. It is easy to get distracted by shiny objects, Techleap and the challengers ask the right questions to make the tough decisions.”
– Trabotyx


“The excellent organisation of the programme created an unique group of promising companies, led by talented and driven people, making sure that all the time you invest is inspiring, educative and worthwhile.”
– Inphocal


“The Pole Position programme helped us critically reflecting with experts from the field on our venture and strongly improved our focus, roadmap and strategy.”
– Addcat


“One of the strong parts of the programme is that you’ll get inspired with very good challengers, to critically think about your business assumptions.”
– SlamOrtho


“For us the programme was very valuable for learning from experienced entrepreneurs and inspirational sessions. But also to create a network of peers that are in the same stage of developing a company.”
– Augmedit

Planning the main phases

What does the programme offer?



Provide us with necessary information we ask for in the application.

In preparation of the programme you will have to provide us with necessary information we ask for in the application.  When preselected, we will ask you for your roadmap and pitchdeck. These and your live pitch with Q&A will be judged by a jury of investors, founders and experts, chaired by Constantijn van Oranje. When selected, you will have an intake call with the Pole Position team.

Pase I


Getting to know and prepping you and your company.

This first part of the programme will consist out of assessing, getting to know and prepping you and your company by means of a scale scan, 1 on 1 sessions with our pitcrew and 2 kick-off days offsite.

Phase II


Work on your challenges and get insights on where to focus on as a company.

In four group sessions together with scale founders, serial (deeptech) entrepreneurs and experts you will work on your challenges and get insights on where to focus on as a company after the programme.

Challenging elements of your roadmap like Market Access, Team and Leadership, Business models and Funding will be discussed in depth. There is always an inspirational element!

Phase III

Boost & Connect

Boost your journey towards global impact.

All the knowledge, tough love, shared learnings and insights will help you in your journey to global impact. In the period after the programme you will be supported by the Techleap platform and our broader community.

Planning timeline Life Science &
Health in 2024

Pitcrew and Challengers

Alexander Crowell

Partner PureTerra Ventures 


Pippa Gawley

Founding Partner Zero Carbon

Hamed Sadeghian

CEO Nearfield Instruments

Fabrizio Del Maffeo

CEO & Co-founder Axelera

Lise Rechsteiner

Bram de Zwart

Co-founder Hubs

Corinne Vigreux



Vincent Kamphorst

Innovation Industries

Jos Burger

Founder Ultimaker

Menno van Dijk

Ton van ’t Noordende

Constantijn van Oranje

Special Envoy TechleapNL

Alexander Ribbink

General Partner KEEN Ventures

Beau-Anne Chilla

Investment Manager

Pia Michel

Prima Materia

Guus Frericks


Boudewijn Docter

Oscar Kneppers


Riemer Smink


Johan Feenstra

CEO Smart Photonics


Martina Barabas

Deeptech Equity NL

Rene de Vries

Founder Aito

Samir Ahmad

Deeptech Equity NL

Ferdinand Grapperhaus

Founder PHYSEE

Arno van Mourik

CEO Airborne


Richard Visser

Founder SMART Photonics


Helmer Schukken

Managing Partner Rubio Ventures

Teska van Vuren

Partner Deeptech XL

Gert Jan Vaessen

Fund Manager Deep Tech Fund

Soukaina Adnane-Murphy

Founder Onera Health

Art de Boo



David Rosenberg



Sebastian Peck

Partner Kompas VC


Michael Smith

General Partner Regeneration VC

Pitcrew and Challengers
Life Science & Health

Sjaak Vink

Founder & CEO at The Social Network, on a mission to give everyone access to the best medicines

Dinko Valerio

Scientist-turned-entrepreneur, founder & former CEO of Crucell, mentor

Eline van Beest

CEO Hybridize Therapeutics and Venture Partner at Thuja Capital.

Derk Arts

CEO at Castor, Making Decentralized Trials Scale.

Judith Heikoop

InspiringFifty Europe winner, MedTech & Life Sciences, Scaling start-ups and C-Suite Executive and Board member.


Anke Huiskes

Early Stage Investor. Managing Partner NP-Hard at Ventures and Founding Partner Planet Positive

Fenna Heyning


Henk Westendorp


Sarah Fisher

Venture Partner

Harm de Vries

General Partner  Innovation Industries

Eva Hukshorn

CFO MRIguidance

Ger van Jeveren

Investor PhotonVentures

Jaap Maljers

Business man with a strong social drive, entrepreneur & investor in health care

Chretien Herben

Mentor for startups and scale-ups in Life Sciences, Biotech, Medtech and Cleantech

Jan Hunik

Building business in Biotechnology, Food and Biomedical materials

Alain le Loux

Partner at Dutch-American deeptech VC firm Cottonwood Technology Fund

Miranda Berkhof

Owner BeyoUnd Transformation. Developing thriving teams and authentic leaders

Anne DeGheest

Mentor Capitalist, Investor and Corporate Adviser. Pioneered the HealthTech space as entrepreneur. Founder of HealthTech Capital and MedStars.

Allard Kaptein

Managing Director LAMA Ventures

Jorge Juan Fernandez Garcia

Venture Partner Nina Capital

Merel Boers

CEO Nicolab

Koenraad Wiephaup

Founder, CEO Leyden Labs

Ton van ’t Noordende

QDNL Participations, PHX

What participants say about
Pole Position

Who participated in Pole Position?
These are some of our alumni

Are you a deeptech founder that matches the criteria but are not fitting the LSH theme;

leave your details here so that we can keep you updated on future batches.

Meet the team

Coffee Bean

Annemieke Wisse

Snr. Programme Manager

Coffee Bean

Lech Bakhuizen van den Brink

Programme Manager

Coffee Bean

Iris Visser

Project Manager

Coffee Bean

Peter Maarten Westerhout

Director Deeptech

How do I apply

To apply, fill in the application form.

Once you submit your application, your candidature will be thoroughly reviewed by a group of experts. Eventually, we will select fifteen ventures that will be invited to pitch and do a Q&A in front of the selection committee on the March 11th, 2024

Application deadline February 26th,
Selection day March 11th

You will get an answer on their decision ultimately on March 12th, 2024.

What are the costs?

We do not seek equity. There are no participation costs involved besides your full commitment. We aim to build a thriving (deeptech) startup & scale community and therefore we do ask you to give back. For both Pole Position and this community, we believe that the more effort you put in the more you will get out of it. Let’s make an impact together!

What is the selection process?

Once you submit your application, your candidature will be thoroughly reviewed by a group of experts. Eventually, we will select fifteen ventures that will be invited to pitch and do a Q&A in front of the selection committee on March 11th, 2024.

You will get an answer on their decision on March 12th 2024. Once selected you will be part of the greater Techleap community of serial entrepreneurs, investors and other ecosystem stakeholders.

What is Pole Position’s added value?

With the Pole Position Programme we will help you, as a deeptech venture, to bridge the so-called 'valley of death' with its complex obstacles. This includes expert support, peer-to-peer and role-model learning (with tough love) and access to an extensive and (sector specific) relevant network including great (intern)national exposure. Summarised:

  • The benefit of getting challenged by experts and experienced founders that are already ahead of the race.
  • The benefit of Techleap’s network of high quality experts, including policymakers, top-notch entrepreneurs and other ecosystem stakeholders.
  • You will gain (facilitated) exposure for your company on Techleap's channels. 
  • You’ll learn from like-minded entrepreneurs through our peer-to-peer sessions, ignited by theme specific role models.
Do you run the Pole Position initiative for startups from all industries?

Yes, however, we focus on specific themes to create added value among peers and address similar challenges. The sixth theme will be focused on Life Sciences & Health.  

In case you are interested in joining the initiative but do not fit our upcoming batch, please contact our Programme manager Lech Bakhuizen v.d. Brink at or leave your contact details here.

Still more questions?

We are happy to answer them! Please reach out to our Programme manager Lech at