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Entrepreneurs benefit from Dutch government support for business abroad

Entrepreneurs have benefited from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation’s programme [email protected] But according to an evaluation by PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory N.V., commissioned by the Ministry, the programme could have been more effective in some areas.

In the period 2007 to 2011 the subsidy programme offered support to groups of businesses and knowledge institutes wishing to operate internationally, especially on those markets where government plays an important role. The successor to [email protected], Partners for International Business, has kept the strong elements of [email protected], but in this new programme, government and the private sector will no longer be working together in a subsidy relationship.

The Ministry’s aim is to provide support to businesses in promising sectors on foreign markets. The evaluation has shown that the [email protected] programme was relevant in achieving this aim.
Positioning of the Dutch private sector

Entrepreneurs felt that the greatest benefits of the [email protected] programme were that it raised their profile abroad and allowed them to expand their international network. This led to a better positioning of the Dutch private sector. Some of the companies participating indicated that without the [email protected] programme they would not have carried out certain activities, or at least not completely. Entrepreneurs did not see the administrative burden associated with the programme as disproportionate.

Government support consisted of subsidies, economic diplomacy and bilateral cooperation on policy. By deploying the diplomatic network of foreign posts and through bilateral cooperation, the Dutch Government can open doors for businesses in markets which are difficult to access.
Partners for International Business

The new programme Partners for International Business, introduced on 16 February 2012, offers greater customisation and flexibility, and a more active and clearer role for government as partner and not as subsidising body. In the new approach there is also greater emphasis on public-private cooperation, with more flexible and active support for businesses from government, and from the private sector more serious commitment and a larger financial contribution.

Partners for International Business must position groups of businesses, especially those in the top sectors, in high-potential foreign markets, and support businesses in obtaining access to these markets. This requires a sophisticated, strategic, phased plan rather than single trade missions or incidental participation in trade fairs, with the government taking on those activities that are not possible for the private sector. This is one of the instruments of economic diplomacy that must lead to the strengthening of international competitive strength of the Dutch private sector.