Henk Kamp, the Minister of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands, announced today that two-time EU commissioner Neelie Kroes is appointed as the country’s ‘Special Envoy’ for startups. Neelie Kroes will fulfill this newly created position of startup ambassador for 1.5 years with the support of Sigrid Johannisse. As Kroes’s Digital Agenda cabinet member Johanisse was previously responsible for Startup Europe.
As a veteran diplomat Kroes responsibility will on the one hand be to lure world class startups to the Netherlands and specifically to Amsterdam. For Dutch startups Kroes should make it much easier to be able to expand internationally or settle abroad.
The program that Kroes as Special Envoy will roll out from an old navel site on Kattenburg Island in Amsterdam is the StartupDelta initiative. StartupDelta is a public private partnership with the aim to provide innovative entrepreneurs with the nurturing environment to start fast and grow quickly into large global enterprises.
In the years to come Startup Delta should develop into a startup ecosystem where the world’s brightest founders want to start their companies. It should be the Silicon Valley, Tech City or Tel Aviv of continental Europe.
In a statement to the news Kroes said that she is looking forward to further strengthening the Dutch startup-brand with the help of startups around the world. “Startups represent the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that knows no boundaries, nor waits for what lies ahead. Startups create the future themselves and thus generate new economic growth for the Netherlands”, she said.
Kamp claims that The Netherlands is one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world, with an ‘increasing number of successful startups.’ “But we have to be more ambitious,” he says. “We want to attract more foreign startups and encourage Dutch businesses to grow into large international enterprises.” Kamp argues that Neelie Kroes is the right person for the job: “Neelie Kroes’s extensive experience and personality make her the ideal person to pursue and support this international ambition.”
The installment of the startup envoy was announced by Kamp March this year. It’s one of the measures of ‘Ambitious Entrepreneurship’ action plan, which is a direct outcome of the 40+ measures proposal called StartupNL, advanced by Dutch Liberal Party (VVD) MP Anne-Wil Lucas November last year.
In this interview Lucas talked with StartupJuncture about why The Netherlands might be interesting for foreign startup founders and what still needs to be improved.
Now two of the most prominent and visible measures of her plan are a reality. Just a few weeks ago, November 19th, the Dutch immigration law was amended to allow for the foreign startup founder friendly visa called ‘Startup Visa’, about which we reported here.
The action plan ‘Ambitious Entrepreneurship’ could be regarded as a master plan for the Dutch startup ecosystem. Besides the Special Envoy as a high level deal maker, capital, knowledge networks, information portals, etc will be brought together to get the ecosystem to a higher level.
Less than a week ago one of the most high profiled startups of the world Uber announced it will move it’s mobile development to its international HQ in Amsterdam. The Netherlands and Amsterdam are ready for more.
Photo Credit: NOG Brussel