New life in Entre Deux
‘It began as Starters Valley, which was meant to help out startups with the first steps of going into business,’ Rutten says. ‘When the starting companies just kept coming and coming, my business partner Nando Ngandu and I had to look into the options to expand. The second floor of Entre Deux came into the picture very quickly. We set our sights on a partnership with Qeske in Kerkrade; Qeske is a platform where educational institutions and companies come together to work on innovative concepts. Their working methods were a perfect match for our plans for Entre Deux. The idea is to give startups space in the retail spaces that used to be Xenos and Cook&Co, where they can bring their ‘Made in Maastricht’ products straight to the public. And there will also be a “makers space”, which will have features like a few 3D-printers and a hackathon room. If you want to make something, or if you’ve got an IT issue, this will be your place.’
Businesses will be able to rent here for the short or long term – as long as they need to take their product for a test drive on the market. Rutten says he expects the presence of multiple makers and businesses in the same space to also create synergies between the startups. ‘That reinforces the total concept,’ he says. Innovation is the common denominator of all the businesses establishing themselves in Entre Deux. ‘Like the company that’s making a nano coating to protect your phone against scratches, fingerprints and radiation. But we're also working on a distinctive café concept, where instead of a heart you can have a selfie printed on your cappuccino.’
Rutten can’t say enough good things about the partnership with the municipality on making the idea a reality. He has great appreciation for the municipality’s short lines and extensive network. ‘The municipality actually did the initial negotiations with the owner of Entre Deux. It was not at all a given that we would be allowed to take over part of the shopping centre with non-retail functions. So we’re really glad that it worked out.’
The pre-opening of the new initiative in Entre Deux will be happening during the TEFAF, the world-leading art, antiques and design exhibition. The official opening will be set for a later moment.