From the end of 2021, the Regional Development Companies (ROMs) will have nationwide coverage. From this national network, the 9 ROMs will drive social and economic challenges such as energy transition, food transition, healthy aging and security. All are national tasks that are realized from the regions.
Last year, the ROMs were involved in 734 nationwide innovation projects worth €190 million. The ROMs also supported 223 foreign companies in new establishments and expansions with 9,012 jobs and € 2.1 billion in triggered investments. The ROMs are involved in half of all venture capital applications in the Netherlands, making them by far the most active investors in the Netherlands.
"The ROMs mean an incredible amount to regional entrepreneurs. The results from 2021 show that. Since their inception, the number of companies that have been helped is only increasing. For example, the number of innovative companies invested in has grown from 126 in 2016 to 250 in 2021. And investing is only one of the ROMs' tasks. In total, thousands of companies have been helped a step further. Now that the ROMs have national coverage, we are even better organizing regional and supra-regional cooperation between innovative companies, government and knowledge institutions. In this way we support even more innovative entrepreneurs and that is good for the activity of the Netherlands," said Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Micky Adriaansens.
Social and economic impact
An optical AI technology to see how long fruit and vegetables keep (OneThird from Enschede), a toilet cleaning system based on ultrasonic sound waves (TranZero from Creil), batteries that charge faster and are lighter, more efficient and cheaper (LionVolt from Eindhoven), or accelerating the application of hydrogen in the maritime sector (consortium SH2IPDRIVE). These are a small sample of innovations by companies that have been helped by the regional development companies over the past year.
Innovative entrepreneurship is essential to the future earning power of the Netherlands. Change is realized in the region. Joining forces between regions and the state is really necessary to stimulate innovation for the future of the Netherlands. This also confirms the report 'Raising the bar together' by the Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (AWTI) in mid-2021.
Last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate conducted a national evaluation of ROMs over the past five years. That report will be published in the coming months.
Joining regional forces
The joint ROMs meant a lot to the innovative business community of the Netherlands in 2021. In 2021, the ROMs collaborated intensively on propositions for the National Growth Fund. In addition, the ROMs collaborate on (European) programs in the context of mission-driven innovation policy. Within the Food Value program, the ROMs are helping to realize business cases that contribute to a higher-value use of (green) raw materials and reducing waste in the chain. In 2021, the first step was also taken to measure social impact as joint ROMs in a standardized and pragmatic way.
In the coming years, too, the ROMs are committed to more intensive supra-regional cooperation and more commitment to regional ecosystems for research and innovation. The ROMs support entrepreneurs by innovating, investing and internationalizing together.
Perhaps the most important task of the ROMs is developmental power: the generation and realization of innovation projects, business cases and innovation programs with innovative SMEs and the active development of innovation ecosystems. Last year it involved 734 innovation projects with several thousand companies expected, in the areas of energy transition, food transition, resource transition, healthy aging, security and key technologies such as quantum, hydrogen and AI. The innovation projects have a financial volume of €190 million. From their development role, the ROMs are also closely involved in most Growth Fund applications.
The nine regional development companies invested in 250 innovative companies in 2021 with an investment volume of over €143.7 million. This involved the ROMs in half of the companies that managed to attract venture capital last year. This makes them one of the most active investors in the Netherlands. In addition, in 2020 and 2021, the ROMs provided a total of € 289 million in Corona Bridge Loans to more than 974 companies.
Foreign companies account for 30% of R&D investment in the Netherlands. Together with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) and partners in the region, the ROMs are responsible for attracting international companies to the Netherlands. Last year, the ROMs supported 223 foreign companies with new establishments and expansions. In total, these companies are investing €2.1 billion in the economy over the next 3 years and creating more than 9,000 jobs. In addition to attracting foreign companies, the ROMs also help established SMEs do more business abroad. In 2021, the ROMs, together with Trade and Innovate NL, organized 238 international trade activities that provided information and foreign contacts for more than 4,500 participants.
Click here for an infographic with all the annual results in pictures.