The EU and Business in the Netherlands
The European Union (EU) provides indirect and direct financial support to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Netherlands. Dutch businesses may access various EU-backed financing options, including loans and venture capital from financial intermediaries operating in the Netherlands. They may also seek direct funding in the form of grants provided by the European Commission on a competitive basis.
Grants from the European Commission and its executive agencies are the only form of direct EU funding for businesses. Grants for SMEs are provided for new projects that contribute towards EU policy objectives, including policies related to the environment, skills training, competitiveness, innovation, and research and development. Funding may not be used to assist businesses with making a profit. Businesses in the Netherlands may submit proposals through a competitive process. Calls for proposals are issued by the European Commission and posted online at http://ec.europa.eu/contracts_grants/grants_en.htm.
EU Structural Funds and national sources of funding are used support a wide range of programmes that contribute to regional development and social cohesion in Europe. Programmes include business development initiatives that improve competitiveness in Europe, such as increasing skills and access to financing. The Netherlands applies Structural Funds for various business programmes, including supports that provide loans and other financing products to Dutch companies. For example, funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) is used for education and training and funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) are applied for developing and supporting SMEs.
Programmes supported by Structural Funds from 2007 to 2013 primarily supported regional business development initiatives. A variety of regional authorities manage the ESF and ERDF, with funding provided to a range of intermediaries. For example, microcredit in the form of guarantees and loans of between €5,000 and €35,000 are provided to Amsterdam-based businesses through the Government of Amsterdam (www.amsterdam.nl). Similar programmes are available in other regions, including starter loans of up to €75,000 for businesses in The Hague through Qredits (www.startersfonds-denhaag.nl). Businesses in Gelderland and Overijssel may access loans, guarantees, equity and venture capital through Participateiemaatschappij (www.ppmost.nl) for research, development and innovation activities in the nutrition, health and technology sectors. In Flevoland, equity, venture capital, loans and guarantees of up to €300,000 are available for technology and life sciences business from Technofonds Flevoland (www.mkbfondsen-flevoland.nl).
From 2014 to 2020, business supports are being informed by Horizon 2020. This framework consolidates many EU programmes and supports for innovation, research and development. Horizon 2020 makes it easier for businesses and other EU funding recipients to access funding through a more streamlined process. Information about programmes is available at http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020.
European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Innovation Fund (EIF) work with Dutch financial institutions and other partners to offer affordable financing products to businesses in the Netherlands. Financing is designed especially for high-risk investments and investments that contribute to EU policy objectives, including economic growth, job creation and increased competitiveness. The European Investment Bank Group, of which the EIB and EIF are part, is a significant source of indirect EU financing for SMEs in Europe.
The EIB provides financing of up to €7.5 million for research, development and innovation. Loans and guarantees are backed by the EU through the EIB and the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF). They may be used for all tangible and intangible investments with a focus on mid-sized companies with under 250 employees. EIB partners in the Netherlands include ABN AMRO (www.abnamro.com), ING Bank (www.ing.nl) and Rabobank Nederland (www.rabobank.com). For more information about the European Investment Bank, visit www.eib.org.
The EIF facilitates access to financing for SMEs by providing EIB-backed financing products through financial intermediaries in the Netherlands. Most investments made with EIF funding are targeted to start-up and early stage businesses. Seed and start-up funds in the form of equity and venture capital are available. The EIF focused on technology and life sciences sectors, although financing in other sectors may be available. For more information about the European Investment Bank, visit www.eif.org.
Introduced with Horizon 2020, The Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME) helps businesses get off the ground. The programme also increases access to financing and provides tools and supports for business development and economic growth. The programme largely replaces the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), which ran from 2007 and 2013. Similar to the CIP, COMSE provides funding for business financing delivered by local and national intermediaries in EU member states.
EU Financing Resources
National and local intermediaries are each responsible for making investment decisions on a case-by-case basis. Information on sources of indirect EU financing and local partners in the Netherlands is available at http://europa.eu/youreurope/business/funding-grants/access-to-finance. This up-to-date resource includes information on programmes offered to Dutch businesses through Structural Fund programmes, the EIB and EIF, CIP and COSME, and other EU funding programmes.
Information on EU financing and other issues, as well as free business advice and support, is also provided through the Enterprise Europe Network. Branches are located through the Netherlands, including The Hague, Nieuwegein and Noordwijk. For more information, visit http://een.ec.europea.eu.