All ROM directors

Regional development companies: social progress by accelerating innovation from the regions

In 2023, the nine regional development companies (ROMs) once again provided financial and substantive support to thousands of startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs. This allowed these companies to continue to grow and work on solutions to societal challenges such as the housing shortage, grid congestion, sustainable food and climate transition. The ROMs expect the positive contribution of regional SMEs to the earning capacity of the Netherlands to continue to grow in the coming years.

"The nine ROMs are driving innovation in regional SMEs," said Wendy de Jong, president of ROM-Netherlands. "By working well together, we can jointly make progress on topical themes such as smart technology for agri business, innovation for our defense, high-tech that keeps our industry competitive. We leverage knowledge and networks throughout the Netherlands and better position innovative SMEs. In this way we accelerate innovations so that they reach the market in time. The ROMs connect national and regional government and are an important link between national goals and innovative SMEs that are working on them day in and day out together with their people. This is how we help entrepreneurs move forward."

Impulse supra-regional cooperation from EZK

An important role in this is played by the Multi-Year Strategy for Upper Regional Cooperation 2024-2027, which the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations published in late June. With this strategy, the ROMs can continue their work and support innovative entrepreneurs in the region in their growth and development. In doing so, they make use of the one-time €4 million impulse the ROMs received in late 2023 for strengthening supra-regional cooperation. In this way, innovations needed for the necessary transitions come to market earlier and we work on the sustainable earning capacity of the Netherlands. The allocation of €2.5 million under the Energy Hubs Incentive Program for the development of energy hubs as an important link in the energy supply of the Netherlands adds to this.

Commit to innovation and enhanced collaboration

"We have taken steps together, but I call for continued commitment to innovation. Because innovation affects us all. Therefore, give entrepreneurs room to innovate as well. Regions play an important role in safety, housing and spatial planning. However, building houses, improving the business climate and making industry sustainable does not happen by itself. We help innovative SMEs in the region work through these complexities so they can work smarter and more sustainably. That makes the regional approach essential," De Jong stressed. "Together with business, education and government, ROMs in the regions work on and from strategic innovation agendas. Cross-regional cooperation is essential to further strengthen the innovative ecosystems that are already there or developing now. In this way, the ROMs can make a significant contribution to the earning power of regional SMEs in the coming years and thus to the earning power of the whole of the Netherlands."

Regional development in 2023 in facts and figures:

  • Innovation projects: The ROMs contributed to 474 innovation projects in 2023, with a financial volume of more than €350 million, focusing on energy transition, food transition, resource transition, healthy aging, security and key technologies, among others. More than a thousand companies were involved in these projects.
  • Investments: The ROMs invested €219 million in 372 innovative SMEs. ROMs were involved in 50% of the companies that attracted start-up and later-stage capital. The total investment portfolio of the nine ROMs includes 1,104 enterprises.
  • Foreign companies: 138 foreign companies were supported in new establishments and expansions. These companies are investing €1.1 billion in the Dutch economy over the next three years, creating or preserving more than 3,330 jobs.
  • Trade promotion: Dutch SMEs were supported in internationalizing their activities through, among other things, 194 international trade activities, which provided information and foreign contacts for 4,200 participants.
  • Overall size: With total fund assets of €2.1 billion, more than 600 employees and a broad network of social and intellectual capital, the nine ROMs form regional ecosystems that allow entrepreneurs to excel.

Examples of successful projects

  • BOM - Protix: Insect farming to relieve pressure on food system.
  • Horizon Flevoland - Econowind: Making shipping more sustainable with the use of wind for additional thrust.
  • Impuls Zeeland - Sophyn Greens: Vegetable paste made from fresh vegetables, contributing to food transition.
  • IQ - Healthy Chronos: Data-driven app for better recovery after cancer.
  • Liof - Healix: From discarded ropes and nets from fishing and agriculture to certified circular polymers.
  • NOM - Enatom: Virtual cutting room for medical education.
  • East NL - Tala: Designs and builds turnkey sustainable wooden houses.
  • ROM InWest - Lgem: Innovative algae culture technology for sustainable food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
  • ROM Utrecht - Nordsol: Bio-LNG of the highest quality and with the lowest CO₂ emissions.