New energy sources, flavorful meat substitutes, groundbreaking medicines, or watertight solutions for cybersecurity. These are the innovations that the world of tomorrow needs. And that we also need to get our economy back on track after the crisis. Innovative entrepreneurship is essential for the future earning capacity of the Netherlands. Especially in difficult times. The regional development companies (ROMs) support entrepreneurs by innovating, investing, developing and internationalizing together. This makes them a driver of Dutch competitiveness, even in the face of economic headwinds. Over the past year, the ROMs have built ecosystems that make an economic and social impact and are robust. Resulting in more than 8,000 new jobs and over €1.1 billion in investments.
The joint annual results of the regional development companies were presented Thursday, July 2, to Lower House members Eppo Bruins (ChristenUnie), Jessica van Eijs (D66), Mustafa Amhaouch (CDA) and Arne Weverling (VVD).
The activities of the seven regional development companies resulted in more than 8,000 new jobs and over €1.1 billion in investments in the regional economy in 2019. More than 700 innovation projects and business cases involved the ROMs, including in the areas of energy transition, food transition, healthy aging, security and key technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. 183 foreign companies established themselves in the Netherlands with the support of the ROMs. And the ROMs invested in 204 innovative companies last year. With this, the ROMs were involved in 59 percent of the companies that managed to attract venture capital last year. In this way, the BOM, LIOF, Oost NL, NOM, Impuls Zeeland, Horizon Flevoland and InnovationQuarter made an important contribution to strengthening innovation and competitiveness in their regions and in the Netherlands last year. The seven ROMs are working together more and more intensively in this regard, especially in difficult times such as those created by the Corona crisis, it is important to join forces as in the implementation of the Corona Bridging Loan, among others.
Translating transitions into economic opportunities
Jessica van Eijs (D66): "It is important to invest in a clean future. With innovations we also make our economy stronger and create jobs. By also joining forces regionally, we ensure opportunities for entrepreneurs throughout the Netherlands."
The Netherlands is facing major transitions in the areas of sustainability and digitalization. The ROMs play an important role in the challenge of translating these transitions into economic opportunities. Companies are the key to solving social issues. The ROMs help entrepreneurs realize innovations, enter new markets and develop groundbreaking ideas into tangible products and services.
Mustafa Amhaouch, Member of Parliament (CDA): "The ROMs support both startups and innovative broad SMEs in the various regions. New challenges offer new opportunities, but that requires entrepreneurship, innovation and the right support. Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular make a major contribution to strengthening the regional economy and the livability of our cities and towns. The ROMs are close to these entrepreneurs and therefore they deserve our support."
ROMs most important investors in the Netherlands
Regional development companies play a leading role in investing in high-growth, innovative companies. The ROMs invest in impactful innovations and companies that contribute to social issues. Most of these are early-stage funding for startups and scale-ups. In total, last year the ROMs invested €165 million in companies that contribute to the renewal of the Dutch economy.
Over the period 2015-2019, as many as 56% of companies that managed to raise venture capital (VC) received their investment in part from a ROM. In 2019, this was as high as 59% of companies. Of the companies that managed to raise growth capital in 2019, 32% received it in part from a ROM (2015-2019: 29%). ROMs currently have more than 900 companies in their portfolio, making them by far the most active investors in the Netherlands.
Record number of foreign companies in 2019 leads to job growth and new investment
Last year, the ROMs managed to attract 183 foreign companies to the Netherlands or allow them to expand here. 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 €900 million in the Netherlands over the next three years and create 8,158 jobs. These companies not only make an economic contribution, but sustainably strengthen the regional and national ecosystem and play an important role in the transitions in the areas of sustainability and digitalization.
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 707 innovation projects and business cases with a financial volume of nearly €180 mln.
In addition to individual support, this mainly involves forming consortia of companies to work jointly on innovative solutions. The ROMs also work to realize open innovation facilities, such as Smart Industry Fieldlabs and joint innovation programs such as the Market Readiness Program. In this way, the ROMs are strengthening dynamic ecosystems in their regions and increasing their economic and societal impact.
* Pictured from left to right: Arne Weverling (VVD), Eppo Bruins (ChristenUnie), Rinke Zonneveld (InnovationQuarter) Jessica van Eijs (D66), Tys van Elk (LIOF), Mustafa Amhaouch (CDA).
(Photographer Daniel Verkijk)