Regional Development Agencies: Impact for and with innovative SMEs

Regional Development Agencies: Impact for and with innovative SMEs

More than 5,000 new jobs and nearly €3 billion in investments in the regional economy. These are the collective results from 2018 of the six regional development companies (ROMs).

They presented these figures Wednesday, June 12, to Hans de Boer (chairman VNO-NCW) and Jacco Vonhof (chairman MKB-Nederland). Last year, the BOM, LIOF, Oost NL, NOM, Impuls Zeeland and InnovationQuarter again made an important contribution to strengthening innovation and competitiveness in their regions and in the Netherlands.

Sixty percent of the companies that managed to attract venture capital last year did so thanks in part to an investment from a regional development fund. The ROMs also managed to attract as many as 137 foreign companies to the Netherlands, resulting in more than 5,000 new and retained jobs. Together, they realized more than 400 innovation projects and business cases with more than 1,000 entrepreneurs. This made the ROMs rightfully the growth engine of the regional economy in 2018 as well.

Commitment to impact

"ROMs stimulate the economy by investing in innovative SMEs, landing foreign companies in the region, as well as connecting innovative entrepreneurs to each other - and to knowledge institutions and governments - so that together they can make an impact in their sector. They make an important difference for many SMEs across the country," said Jacco Vonhof, chairman of MKB-Nederland.

"The ROMs are pre-eminently committed to investments and projects with a high social impact - in the areas of food, climate, health, security and energy, or the major transitions of our time. This is how they help prepare the economy in their region for the future," said Hans de Boer, chairman of VNO-NCW. "Together with Invest-NL and the ROMs, we will soon have everything in place to ensure that the Netherlands remains world leader in numerous fields."

ROMs most important investors in the Netherlands

Regional development companies play a leading role in investing in high-growth, innovative companies. Last year, the ROMs invested from their own funds in 112 startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs. From their other funds under management, they also provided funding to 141 companies. Most of these were early-stage funding for still young companies. In total, last year the ROMs invested €118 million in companies that contribute to the renewal of the Dutch economy.

Over the period 2014-2018, as many as 54% of the companies that managed to raise venture capital received their investment in part from a ROM. In 2018, this was as high as 60% of companies. In terms of amounts invested, the percentage last year was 22%; again, this shows that ROMs are investing primarily in young, high-risk startups. Of the companies that managed to raise growth capital in 2018, 25% received this in part from a ROM (2014-2018: 26.7%).
ROMs currently have more than 500 companies in portfolio and more than €1 billion in investment funds under management, making them by far the most active investors in the Netherlands.

Record number of foreign companies leads to job growth and new investment

Last year, the ROMs managed to attract as many as 137 foreign companies to the Netherlands or allow them to expand here. In some cases, this also involved retaining foreign companies that intended to close or relocate their Dutch branch. To this end, the ROMs cooperate intensively with the NFIA (Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency) in the "Invest in Holland" network. The foreign companies attracted expect to invest as much as €2.4 billion in the Netherlands over the next three years and create 5,239 jobs.

Driver of innovation and development for SMEs

Helping innovative SMEs with their innovations is one of the ROMs' core activities. Last year, the ROMs worked jointly with more than 1,000 innovative SMEs on 419 innovation projects and business cases with a financial volume of more than € 120 million.
In addition to individual support, this mainly involves forming consortia of companies to work together on innovative solutions in areas such as health, sustainability and safety. The ROMs also work to realize open innovation facilities, such as Smart Industry Fieldlabs. In this way, the ROMs are strengthening dynamic ecosystems in their regions and increasing their economic and societal impact.

Infographic - ROM results 2018