Economic Mission -Key theme 4: Start-ups

The Economic Mission during the State Visit of Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima focuses on 8 important- and innovative sectors. Within these sectors we see opportunities to reinforce the French-Dutch collaboration. During our countdown to the Economic Mission, we will briefly discuss the 8 key sectors and the relevance of these sectors for both the Netherlands and France. This week we’ll take a closer look at “Start-ups”.

Start-ups get increasingly more attention. Governments and companies understand that in our ever-changing societies we have to stimulate growth through innovation and work together in order to implement those innovations in societies. In both France and the Netherlands, several programmes have been developed to incubate and accelerate start-ups, to enable start-ups to grow and move internationally.

Since May 2012, President Hollande and his government have made supporting innovation and start-ups a priority. Through the French Tech Initiative, which is designed for non-French entrepreneurs from all over the world, start-ups get the opportunity to further develop their projects in Paris. The Talent Passport, which demands less administrative rigmarole, will be introduced for talented foreign entrepreneurs to come to France. For the French there are advantages to start up a business as well, with the regulation for Jeunes Entreprises Innovantes, which offers several fiscal exemptions. The government of the Netherlands has introduced the Ambitious Entrepreneurs and Startups Action Plan, for which they offer a total of 75 million euros in order to help start-ups to grow and succeed. The StartupDelta project maps out the Dutch start-up ecosystem and works to increase the international attractiveness of the Netherlands. Furthermore, the Netherlands offer a permit for non-EU entrepreneurs to set up a new business.

These efforts are paying off, as France is now listed 3rd on the European start-up ranking, and 11th globally. The Netherlands are just behind with a 4th place on the European listings and 19th globally1.The Dutch are remarkable as tech start-up founders, whereas the French have a reputation in EdTech, sharing economy and artificial intelligence2. Recent success stories from France are Criteo and Blablacar, while in the Netherlands the accelerator Startupbootcamp, and companies such as Nimbuzz and Ayden (the first Dutch tech unicorn) have risen to prominence3.

Both France and the Netherlands have shown a keen interest to learn from each other and work together, as they are both complementary in their fields of expertise, and similar in their eagerness to become a big player in the worldwide start-up ecosystem. For instance, they work together in the field of European legislation in order to facilitate the international mobility of (non-) EU start-ups, they exchange about best practices and they try to bring Dutch and French in contact with each other, with companies and with possible investors.

 1.     Figures from the Startup Ecosystem Ranking (, visited on the 24th of February 2016, 17h19
2.      Page 82 and 122 from the report Startup Ecosystem Ranking (, visited on the 24th of February 2016, 17h26.
3.       Page 82 and 122 from the report Startup Ecosystem Ranking (, visited on the 24th of February 2016, 17h26.