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‘Dutch Tech not moving fast enough’

by Marco van der Hoeven

The Dutch tech ecosystem, despite showing resilience during the pandemic, faces challenges in maintaining its growth momentum. According to a report by Techleap, the absence of newly established billion-dollar companies and IPOs in 2022 and 2023, along with a slight decline in the overall ecosystem value to approximately €240 billion, signals a deceleration in growth. This contrasts with the steady growth in other European countries like the UK and France.

A critical factor in the development of Dutch startups is funding. While venture capital investments in the Netherlands experienced a 25% decline, this was relatively better than the broader European and global trends. However, the Dutch tech ecosystem relies heavily on foreign venture capital, especially for later-stage funding. Domestic funds tend to invest more in early-stage ventures within the Netherlands, but also allocate a significant portion of their investments abroad. The need for improved funding mechanisms is evident to enable Dutch tech companies to scale effectively.

The Dutch tech sector’s performance is notably strong in deeptech. These companies have seen a 14% increase in investment from 2022 to 2023, demonstrating their resilience in a challenging European tech investment landscape. Much of this investment is directed towards companies emerging from universities and knowledge institutions, highlighting the potential of Dutch academic research. However, the transition from academic projects to scalable startups remains a challenge.

The report also highlights a significant talent gap in the Dutch tech industry. Despite a 25% growth in tech employment, startups and scaleups face difficulties in hiring, particularly in engineering roles. Foreign talent, which constitutes around 30% of the startup workforce, partially fills this gap. However, attracting and integrating international talent into the Dutch tech sector remains a challenge.

Regarding mergers and acquisitions, a majority of Dutch startups and scaleups (63%) were acquired by non-Dutch companies in 2023, with significant acquisitions including PayU (€550 million) and SynAffix (€100 million).

To revitalize the Dutch tech ecosystem and ensure future economic prosperity, the report recommends increasing capital and tech investments, enhancing the Netherlands’ position as a leading deeptech nation, addressing the talent shortage, and fostering regional specialization with effective national coordination. By implementing these strategies and learning from global innovation leaders, the Dutch tech sector can continue to grow and succeed on the world stage.

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