On 21 December 2018, The Dutch State Secretary of Economic Affairs and Climate has informed the Dutch House of Representatives on its start-up and scale-up policy of the government.

The ultimate ambition of the government is for the Netherlands to have the number 1 ecosystem for start-ups and scale-ups in Europe and have a top 5 position worldwide.

The government has identified that for Dutch start-ups and scale-ups currently face three challenges:

  • it is relatively difficult for Dutch start-ups to attract talent in the technology sector;
  • in the Netherlands, the capital invested per start-up is relatively low compared to the international environment (especially for early-stage investments); and
  • relatively little Dutch start-ups are internationally active.

In order to reach the ambition, the government announced the following measures:

1. Access to Talent

  • The government has the aim to increase the amount of talent in the technology sector. A program called ‘Techniekpact’ should encourage Dutch students to choose an education in technology. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has made available EUR 60 million for industry plans in the science and technology (including IT) industry.
  • As start-ups and scale-ups often try to attract personnel by offering employees shares or share options via employee stock option plans, the government will start discussions on a more favorable tax treatment of those stock option plans in the beginning of 2019.

2. Access to Capital

The government has taken several initiatives to increase access to capital for start-ups and scale-ups:

  • the facility ‘Vroegefasefinancing (VVF)’ provides selected start-ups with the opportunity to finance their proof of concept;
  • the Seed regulation allows the government to provide co-financing to venture capital funds;
  • the Dutch Venture Initiative allows the government to invest in scale-ups;
  • the Dutch-Growth-Co-Investment Fund is installed for financing rounds above EUR 5 million.

According to the State Secretary, raising capital should be less time consuming for start-ups and scale-ups. The government shall stimulate providing information on financing conditions to start-ups and scale-ups and has the intention to develop standard financing documentation.

3. Access to Knowledge and Technology

  • There are several initiatives that should help access to knowledge, for example the National Science Agenda (where start-ups and scale-ups will be actively involved in the innovation agenda) and the Thematic Technology Transfer arrangement (by which knowledge institutions will be encouraged to work together).
  • StartupDelta will focus on accelerating innovations by linking supply and demand and by organising masterclasses Knowledge Transfer.
  • The State Secretary has furthermore declared to promote accessibility of intellectual property rights for small and new users.

4. Access to (Inter)national Networks

  • StartupDelta is organising several (regional) networking events for start-ups. The State Secretary has announced that it will start a new service, whereby innovative small companies and start-ups with ambition and potential will be provided with support to all relevant instruments and services.
  • Various embassies and consulates provide support in, i.e., investigating foreign markets.
  • Start-up missions are being organised to fairs, exhibitions and shows abroad, such as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Netherlands shall be a host of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in June 2019, where more than 1,000 innovative companies, potential clients and investors can meet each other. This should present the Netherlands as ‘gateway to Europe’.
  • The Eurostars Program helps innovative companies and start-ups with international networks.

5. Access to the Authorities

There is a national network of start-up officers at almost all ministries, provinces and municipalities. This network has the objective to make offers to start-ups that would like to work together with the authorities (either with the authorities as a launching customer or, i.e., by finding a test environment). With a special program, the State Secretary tries to show local authorities best practices to buy services from innovative parties. EUR 2,5 million will be made available on an annual basis to urge local authorities to buy with a focus on innovation. In addition, several authorities are organising challenges under the Start-up in Residence program, whereby startups can present solutions to social challenges.