NOM, it does business funding, right? True, but it does much more. The O in NOM stands for develop, and that is exactly what the Northern Development Company does. Helping businesses grow, in other words. Funding is therefore a tool, not a goal.
The 65 employees of the Northern Development Company (NOM) are there to have an impact, to give the northern economy a boost and to be at the forefront of social developments. They do this by providing funding - with or without other parties. Currently to some 180 companies and funds. Venture capital is often it, which is hard to get in other places and always with other investors or entrepreneurs.
NOM is also there to guide foreign companies to a location in the Northern Netherlands. Through contacts in networks worldwide, it continuously manages to interest parties in establishing themselves in this region. Opportunities, locations, the labor market, the educational field, funding possibilities, government institutions; NOM knows its way around all those networks and uses that knowledge for acquisition. Shine Medical and Google are evocative examples of successes, but there are dozens more.
Helping entrepreneur get started
And then there is a third important branch within NOM: the actual development of existing startups, scale-ups and innovative companies. What exactly development is and how NOM can help with it is not equally well known to everyone. A good reason for business developers André Harmens and Daniël Bies to explain this during a well-attended webinar.
Development is not something you do alone. You need advice, a sounding board, growth funding, support, a listening ear, knowledge, and a network. Funding growth is one of the important factors in this, but there is much more besides. Daniel Bies: ,,We keep entrepreneurs on their toes, look closely at plans and try to make links to other companies, the government or education. We are also there to pull the entrepreneur away from the issues of the day and look at his own business and the ever-changing market from a slightly more distant perspective.''
Funding can be a good tool to help an entrepreneur move forward, but it does not have to be. "It's about the development of the business. We look together with the entrepreneur at what form of support is best. Maybe taking one of our knowledge programs is the best solution or they are looking for specific information. Maybe other things are needed, or several side by side.''
NOM does not wait and see. The organization is actively involved in opportunities and trends in the Northern Netherlands economy. All with one and the same goal: to help companies move forward. André Harmens: ,,Our feelers are sensitive. We look for trends and respond to them. An example? We founded the Smart Industry Hub North Netherlands because we saw that digitalization in the process industry is becoming increasingly important. Then you're also talking about artificial intelligence. From joint knowledge and development, we also help individual entrepreneurs with their growth and ambitions in this way.''
Current themes are also highlighted. Corona, for example, is still in play. The information page on Ukraine and Russia is another example. ''We know of companies that depend to a good extent on raw materials from Ukraine,'' Bies says. ''And also entrepreneurs who see entire orders of products to Russia cancelled. We don't always have the answers right away, but we can support and think along.''
Greening, digitization, protein transition, reshoring and more: NOM strives to be at the forefront of current issues like these. That means actively going out into the field, taking stock and providing unsolicited advice. It also means that NOM ensures that the importance of these themes is not underestimated. "We invite entrepreneurs to talk and think with us about this."
Valuable and independent
NOM has set up knowledge programs around various trends in recent years. In these, entrepreneurs are helped in, for example, ten sessions on topics such as bringing a new product or service to the market. NOM also helps startups find the right investors and programs are developed around developments in the food sector.
NOM puts its focus on (starting) entrepreneurs in sectors that are seen as promising and important towards social developments. This can be summarized under the terms Smarter, Healthier and More Sustainable. Then you are talking about the (high-tech) manufacturing industry, Food & Agro, Medtech, Chemistry, Water Technology and IT/AI. Harmens: ,,We encourage and connect entrepreneurs through our large network with education, government and other entrepreneurs. We assist them in their growth and help answer their questions.''
NOM's services are worth a lot, but cost nothing. Well, a cup of coffee then. Because that's what NOM's business developers come to you for. Only the knowledge programs require a small contribution. Bies: ,,We are there to support, initiate and advise. That is our social responsibility and that is why NOM was founded. From the development department we are the connector between the strategic social developments and the individual companies''.