Q&A, Q&A- Investors / Corporates

Q&A with Herman Kienhuis of Curiosity VC

Herman Kienhuis, Curiosity VC

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, both at work and leisure.

I am the founder of Curiosity, a new community-driven VC firm that invests in AI software companies that aim for a positive impact on businesses ánd society. I’ve always been intrigued by new technology and aim to support entrepreneurship, education, sustainability and equality. I am married with an amazing art historian, writer and personal coach. We have three unique (adult) children and live just outside Amsterdam, along the river Amstel. I love live music, movies, vintage design and slow food with friends and family.

2. What are your focus areas, overall and within the (B2B) FinTech / InsurTech space?

With Curiosity we focus on early stage investments in AI-driven B2B software companies, created impact across 4 social-economic themes: – Sustainable living (PropTech, Energy, ClimateTech) – Trusted Society (Cybersecurity, Privacy, LegalTech) – Future of Work (Enterprise software, HRtech, DevOps) – Future of Commerce (Fintech, Marketing, Logistics). In Fintech we see a lot of AI applications in the KYC and fraud detection space. In Insurtech there is much to gain from more intelligent risk assessment and robotic process automation.

3. Any recent deals that you would like to share with us, and why you invested or partnered?

We recently made a second investment in Deeploy, a Utrecht-based software company that has developed an AI oversight system, allowing for the deployment of machine learning models in a transparent and explainable manner. This is especially relevant for financial companies that need to explain the use of algorithms to their customers and the regulator. For example Neobank BUNQ, asset manager PGGM and pension bank BrandNewDay are using Deeploy’s software. The upcoming European AI Act has clear requirements on the transparency and explainability of AI, so this will only become more important.

4. What are the trends to watch out for in Europe/ EMEA in the next 6-18 months?

Although the economic outlook in Europe is still uncertain, driven among others by the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, we are seeing a boom in Artificial Intelligence. The emergence -building on decades of research and development- of powerful Large Language Models (LLMs), and the breakthrough adoption by a mainstream audience via the launch of ChatGPT, is a key trend which will create a massive impact on people and society, in Europe and elsewhere. We expect to see an ongoing explosion of AI-powered innovations and growth companies across sectors and applications. Other key trends are the renewable energy transition, plant-based food transition and photonic and quantum computing where European companies are creating breakthroughs as well.

5. What’s on your bookshelf, and what’s your favourite place for a coffee and/ or a drink? I like to read biographies, preferably of inspiring people in music or tech, my two main passions. The last book I’ve read was ‘Wild Thing’, an amazingly written biography of Jimmi Hendrix, a true legend that was ahead of his time in many ways. This summer I plan to read ‘The Code Breakers’, by Walter Isaacson, a portrayal of Jennifer Doudna, Nobel prize winner and co-inventor of breakthrough DNA editing method CRISPR. I don’t really have a favourite place for coffee or a drink as I like to try out new places and Amsterdam is full of them!