This entry is an excerpt from the OECD’s International Compendium of Entrepreneurship Policies (2020), which contains 16 case studies from 12 OECD countries. The Compendium examines the rationale for entrepreneurship policy, presents a typology of policy approaches and highlights principles for policy success. Case studies span policies for regulations and taxation, entrepreneurship education and training, advice and coaching, access to finance, internationalization, innovation, and holistic packages for ecosystem building. (OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/338f1873-en.)
Startup Delta / TechLeap.NL is an independent public-private partnership which brings together Netherland's regional entrepreneurial ecosystems. This case study illustrates an approach targeted at improving place-based entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Originally founded as "Startup Delta," the organization aims to support the development of 14 regional ecosystem initiatives that support startups and scale-ups at the sub-national level. It seeks to create linkages between these independent regional ecosystem initiatives, break down barriers between actors within and across regional ecosystems, and improve entrepreneurs' access to talent, capital, networks, knowledge and markets.
Because creating linkages among existing innovation-hubs across the country (10 at the outset) fosters national cooperation instead of competition between regional ecosystems (European Commission, 2015), TechLeap.NL was established to strengthen synergies and improve Netherland's startup ecosystem, raise its international profile, and promote international linkages. This is intended to benefit domestic entrepreneurs and attract founders of innovative startups and scale-ups from abroad.
The Startup Delta / TechLeap.NL initiative includes a wide range of actions involving different actors of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and intervening at different stages of the entrepreneurship process, from building an entrepreneurial culture to supporting existing startups.
These includes efforts to create better linkages in the ecosystem and facilitate startups’ access to key resources, notably through the launch of the startupdelta.org portal which maps Netherland's startup ecosystem and offers searchable databases for startups and knowledge providers (Startup Finder and Science Finder).
Another notable initiative is the COSTA collaboration, which brings together corporations and startups on a platform called the Corporate Launchpad to create business-to-business linkages and opportunities for innovation partnerships and investment. Efforts also include linkages with knowledge providers: the TekDelta pilot program provides startups with access to knowledge and laboratory space at the organization for applied scientific research (TNO), Universities of Technology, the telecom provider KPN and other private companies such as NXP and Philips.
The initiative also facilitates interactions between entrepreneurs and public services. Together with the Chamber of Commerce, it introduced Startupbox, an instrument guiding startups to the most suitable public policy program. It successfully advocated for a reduction of the application process time for R&D tax deductions for startups, which was reduced from three months to one month. The program operates a Startup Officers Network, composed of representatives of government organizations, which aims to improve access of startups to government organizations. It has established a coalition of government departments and municipalities collaborating in a test lab, encouraging local governments to consider investing in startup led solutions to foster broader access to public procurement for startups.
StartupDelta / TechLeap.NL seeks to attract and support foreign startups settling in Netherlands together with the Netherlands Point of Entry at the Dutch Enterprise Agency. Efforts include the Orange Carpet program, with simplified steps for installation for foreign startups and a single support portal for all foreign startup related issues. Netherlands also introduced a Startup Visa, a temporary (one-year) residence permit for foreign startup founders.
The program works with the government to support the development of policies that make it easier for startups to attract talent, for example by reducing tax obstacles to using “shares as wages” and developing new rules for attracting essential personnel from outside the EU. It highlights bottlenecks encountered by startups and scale-ups and advocates for their inclusion in the policy agenda. Startup Delta / TechLeap.NL is often consulted on the development of a range of government policies for issues that may be relevant for startups and scale-ups.
The program supports internationalization of Dutch startups through international missions for groups of Dutch startups. Missions are frequently organized together with the Dutch Enterprise Agency to global network events (e.g. Consumer Electronics Show, Computex, WebSummit, Slush, South by SouthWest, and Hannover Messe), recognized global entrepreneurial ecosystems (e.g. the Silicon Valley, Seattle, Tel Aviv, Berlin, London) and promising destinations for Dutch startups such as China and South Korea.
A recent initiative is the creation of a community of “startup diplomats” at Netherland's embassies and consulates in priority countries to raise the profile of startup support in the embassy network. The program manages mentor networks, including international peers (startups abroad) who provide advice and support to entrepreneurs seeking to expand their activities in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Singapore, London and Berlin and Paris.
Finally, the program aims to build capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship in society at large through program such as Codepact which offers software programming lessons in primary education.
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
Program Timeline: 2015 - 2023
- StartupDelta 1.0 (June 2015 to June 2016)
- StartupDelta 2.0 (June 2016 to December 2017)
- StartupDelta 3.0 (January 2018 to June 2019)
- TechLeap.NL: (July 2019 to June 2023)
The four-year TechLeap.NL program replaces StartupDelta.
The program was designed to achieve two overarching goals:
- Enter the top 5 global start-up ecosystems in the Startup Genome ranking by 2020 (In 2015, Netherlands was ranked 19th.)
- Become Europe's top startup ecosystem, as per Startup Genome rankings
The planners established a series of sub-objectives, which include:
- Establish one Single Hub
- Grow the pool of “smart funding”
- Attract top Venture Capital funds to Netherlands
- Link Dutch startups to the rest of the world
- Mentor entrepreneurs for international expansion
- Attract and support foreign startups to Netherlands
- Participate in and contribute to relevant international startup networks
- Open public procurement channels for startups
- Connect startups and corporations
- Remove barriers for startups and increase access for startups to EU markets
- Address tech talent shortages
- Facilitate entrepreneurship education
- Boost academic startups.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs evaluates the StartupDelta / TechLeap.NL program every 18 months, it also reviews informal intermediate progress reports in between. Evaluations are not publicly available. The targets change in each period. In the first phase (StartupDelta 1.0), the focus was on increasing interest in startups among politicians, the ministries and the general public. During the second phase (StartupDelta 2.0), StartupDelta focused on stimulating and accelerating structural changes in national and regional policy to support startups. StartupDelta 3.0 had four focus areas: (i) the creation of “One Single Hub” linking Netherland's startup and scale-up ecosystems through a network of networks) and reinforcing Dutch tech networks within and outside Netherlands; (ii) helping startups scale up, notably by organizing missions abroad; (iii) encouraging breakthrough technologies and academic startups; (iv) making the ecosystem more transparent with better (accessible) data.
The Ministry did not envision achieving some of the objectives during one 18 month period. Objectives have evolved over time. Some were cancelled or transferred to other governmental bodies. For example, “Remove barriers for startups and increase access for startups to EU markets” was intended to be achieved through the creation of sandboxes for testing new business models. However, program managers judged that this could better be led by the Ministries of Economic Affairs and of Foreign Affairs, to which the responsibility for achieving the objective was transferred.
StartupDelta / TechLeap.NL includes a set of evaluated 18 month action programs. Evaluation data includes self-evaluations, which are public, and informal evaluations conducted by third parties, which are not public. Key conclusions from these evaluations are provided in letters to parliament.
The Ministry of Economy assessed the first program phase (StartupDelta 1.0) favorably. It estimated that the program to put “The Netherlands […] on the map as a startup-country” (Ministerie van Economische Zaken 2016a).
Subsequent phases (StartupDelta 2.0 and StartupDelta 3.0) were evaluated in greater detail. The short duration of each action program allowed flexibility such that the overall program could be adapted to the needs of startup ecosystem stakeholders.
Lessons for Other Ecosystems:
StartupDelta / TechLeap.NL aims to strengthen the national entrepreneurial ecosystem, understood as a national network of regional networks. It focuses on coordinating regional interests, and aims to provide benefits for all participating regions and limit unproductive competition. In the absence of public information on the results of program evaluations, it is difficult to identify specific lessons learned for similar initiatives. Nevertheless, we can identify three potential success factors:
- Holistic Approach: the program targets all actors in the ecosystem and extends support to different types of firms at various stages of development, as well as potential entrepreneurs.
- Flexible Short-Term Action Plans: this allows for rapid experimentation, iteration, and adaptation.
- Focus on Improving Region Specialization: different Dutch regions specialize in distinctive areas, which is conducive to cooperation and complementarity. Thus, this type of program is particularly suited to contexts in which different regional ecosystems within a country specialize in distinct R&D sectors.
Constantijn van Oranje, Special Envoy for Techleap.NL
Program Scope and Budget:
The Ministry of Economic Affairs subsidized the StartupDelta 2.0 and 3.0 budgets and private funders matched with equal amounts. With other related public funding, the total budget for StartupDelta 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 was approximately EUR 4.5 million. The budget for the StartupDelta phases was:
- StartupDelta 1.0: EUR 450,000 (excluding seconded personnel from government departments)
- StartupDelta 2.0: EUR 725,500
- StartupDelta 3.0: EUR 1,297,749
- TechLeap.NL: EUR 35 million four-year budget was allocated.