Press Release: Unlocked 2020

‘Unlocked’ returns to South Holland to accelerate circular solutions for innovation challenges



Today, Unknown Group — in collaboration with the Municipality of Rotterdam and key players of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem — announced the return of their ‘Unlocked’ concept to Rotterdam on September 22nd and 23rd, as a part of the upcoming Upstream Festival. Upstream Festival is a platform and week-long festival, from September 21st to 27th, to explore the new economy and foster connection, collaboration and inspiration to scale change.

Unlocked brings startups and scale-ups from all over the world to South Holland, where they will collaborate with local businesses in the startup and scale-up ecosystem to solve circular innovation challenges. By making this happen, at Unlocked we can expect to see deals being made, solutions being tested and scaled and pilot contracts being won. By stimulating collaboration opportunities, Unlocked aims at helping boost the South Holland startup and scale-up ecosystem.

The theme for this edition of Unlocked is ‘future circular cities’. With a goal of seeing South Holland become a global benchmark for circularity, the Municipality of Rotterdam has set itself a target of becoming a fully circular city by 2050. To help accelerate this, Unlocked is focusing on three specific themes related to circular challenges – Zero Waste, Connectivity and Circular Buildings. Under these themes are specific circular innovation challenges posed by regional companies and government organizations like Bierfabriek, Dental MA, DRVM, Innovation Lighthouse, Municipality of Rotterdam, KPN, Leidmotiv, Makdo, Rotterdam Science Tower and the Province of South Holland.

Participants of the previous edition of Unlocked in February 2019 achieved great success. Seven participating startups landed pilot projects with last year’s challenge partners Robeco, KPN, Strukton and the Municipality of Rotterdam. The most notable success story from the first edition of Unlocked was Roboauto, the first Czech company to build a self-driving car, who earned a pilot with KPN and became a crucial part of the KPN 5G Automotive Field Lab.

Speaking of the initiative, Partner of Unknown Group and Director of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, Martin Luxemburg said: “By showing the world what business opportunities our region has to offer on future circular cities, I’m convinced that Unlocked will attract the best startups and scale-ups in their fields to our region. I’m eager to see these innovators test and scale their solutions with the support of our local startup and scale-up ecosystem. The collaboration we’re hoping to stimulate at Unlocked will undoubtedly be a powerful driver for solving circular business challenges while simultaneously stimulating the local entrepreneurship ecosystem”.

More information on how to join the challenges can be found at


About Unknown Group
Unknown is a global innovation agency that backs promising innovations with talent, access to market and funding. The goal is to scale these innovations to 100mln in valuation in order to make impact on our 21st century challenges. Through Unknown Group, Get in the Ring was created as a global startup competition to find and support promising startups from all corners of the world to test and scale their solutions with governments and industry leaders.


About Upstream Festival
Upstream Festival is the place where founders, students, investors, policy makers and bold corporates come together to make a positive impact in the world. This is where you meet, learn and connect through a plethora of events, carefully curated and focusing on individual topics with a common goal: enabling innovations that will drive the transition to the next economy. An economy that is digital, carbon neutral, circular and inclusive. Driven by you. The change makers.



Media Enquiries
Unknown Group:
Rayhaan Imam

+31 633 477 292

Upstream Festival:

Linda Holleman

+31 610 931 821