A startup-republic right in the centre of Europe. Startups as a beating heart for new economics. Creating solutions, inspirations and jobs for thousands of young people. In 2013, that was the motivation for Anne-Wil Lucas, Dutch MP for the liberal party VVD (Peoples Party for Freedom and Democracy), to present an agenda with over forty ideas and proposals that should make the Netherlands the most ambitious and attractive country for startups in the world. Proposals that should make The Netherlands more attractive to innovative startups and ease the way for them to start, grow and establish their business in the centre of Europe.
Startups are the hidden power of our economy, according to Lucas. “Innovative, starting businesses like Spotify, Zalando or the Dutch WeTransfer and Booking.com. These kinds of startups are able to grow into big worldwide operating businesses in no time. They challenge established businesses to innovate, they often deliver cleaner and smarter solutions to societal challenges, and lead to job growth. At present the Netherlands have about 7,000 startups that provide a whopping 16,000 fulltime jobs and a turnover of almost € 2 billion. And the startup community keeps on growing. Unfortunately, these companies face many unnecessary challenges and obstacles on their way. The Dutch government should make a large effort to eliminate these. This is a breed of entrepreneurs that is used to take up challenges themselves, rather than to ask the government for help. A mentality that my party can only welcome. But the government can still offer startups more space to do business and in that respect I absolutely see a lot of room for improvement”, according to Lucas.
Countries like France, Canada and the UK have specific policies to improve their business climate for startups. This may put The Netherlands on a disadvantage. Lucas: “Many government policies do not fit the specific situation of this young, ambitious starter. So we do not propose extra red tape, but present our 43 proposals to eliminate barriers in order to better enable these companies to set up their business and to tempt them not to leave our country to early. That’s why we propose to simplify policies, make investments in venture capital more attractive and try to attract foreign startups on basis of a startup visa.
We also have to make sure that public knowledge is shared: knowledge about new technology, but also about successful entrepreneurship. That is why the VVD aims at creating business incubators, which we want to connect to the government national top sector policy. Not by putting them around a conference table, but by using their energy and creativity to transform the top sector policy in real innovation policy”. In this way the VVD wants to give startups a chance to grow into successful innovative businesses and to tempt them to stay in The Netherlands for as long as possible. And we also want to actively attract foreign startups to come to The Netherlands to realise their innovative dreams. This will lead to even more jobs and economic growth.