Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Miki Adriansen allocates 200 million euros to protect and support Dutch high-tech companies.
Whether the government is out of office or not, this Budget Day is once again about the question of how to divide the pie. If lower-income groups gain something, something must be lost elsewhere. As Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK), Miki Adriaenssen (VVD) looks at the Dutch economy from a different perspective. She is mainly interested in making the cake bigger.
“We forget that a lot in today’s political debate,” the minister says. “Of course we must solve the acute problems we face today and ensure that the number of people living in poverty is reduced. That is priority number one. But you will not help them in the long run by just compensation. We must make sure that we keep our economy going and that everyone can Share.
As far as it is concerned, this long-term view focuses mainly on the high-tech capabilities of Dutch companies, large and small, and above all: efforts to keep them in the Netherlands and protect them from the interference of so-called “state actors with nefarious plans.” The Minister mentions China and Russia By name.
Knowledge in the wrong hands
We are a trading nation and must remain so. But in some areas we are in danger. Some know-how in technology companies is attractive to China, among other countries. If this knowledge falls into the wrong hands, they can harm them.
In her last budget as Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Adriansen received two points. First, €100 million will be made available for “economic security”. This money can be used to protect Dutch companies from suspicious investors.
If companies do not trust a particular investor, a reporting obligation has recently been introduced in sectors such as telecommunications, semiconductors and energy. In exceptional cases, the government can prevent such interference. If the company faces financial problems due to losing this investment or missing some growth opportunities, part of this amount of 100 million (deposited in the State Fund Invest-NL, established in 2020) can be used. In recent years, there have been a number of interventions in Dutch technology companies due to suspicious external interference (see box).
The other side of the coin
The amounts involved so far are well below 100 million. “But we want to be able to act quickly. There is often time pressure. At the same time, we as a government must be careful about these types of interventions in companies. It is really a last resort. But we should not run from it as we did in “The past. It is difficult to deprive certain companies of their future because you serve a higher interest, which is national security.”
Adriaansens is particularly happy with the other decision announced on Budget Day, which is to allocate an additional 100 million euros to so-called growth companies. “This is the other side of the coin. On the one hand, we have to protect this sector, and on the other hand, give them the opportunity to continue to innovate so that they can continue to earn a living in the Netherlands. You really need these companies for things like sustainability and issues surrounding healthcare. They have “Solutions.”
With these 100 million, promising startups (again in the high-tech sector) should receive the necessary support. This is not happening enough now, in fact throughout the European Union. In the Netherlands, only 21% of beginners advance to the second stage, according to figures from the Adriaansens Ministry. In the United States, this percentage is 60.
Not a surprising situation
Six European countries (including Belgium, Germany and France) established the European Technology Champions Initiative (ETCI) at the beginning of this year to start catching up. 100 million Netherlands will be allocated to this initiative, bringing the total amount of ETCI to 3.85 billion.
“We have to ensure that these startups, of which we have relatively many in the Netherlands, can continue to grow and do not go abroad through the back door,” Adriansen says.
While this Budget Day and the general political reflections on Wednesday and Thursday are also mainly about the distribution issue, she believes that more attention should be paid to such a long-term vision for the Dutch economy. According to Adriansen, the fact that the additional €2 billion in poverty reduction was only partly funded by increased corporate taxes is the right approach – and not a surprising position for the Liberal Party’s economic affairs minister.
I have shown a lot of resistance to these tax increases. If the government had not resigned, you could have cut certain expenses further. As I tip my political hat, I say we have to make more careful choices there. I think we talk too negatively about companies. We do such crazy things in the Netherlands, and we can be proud of that. “We’re losing that a little bit in the Netherlands and that’s a shame.”
“It’s also in the way we talk about companies, and the words we use. It’s a bit of bashing every now and then, especially the big companies. As a country, you should have a great football team, but you need two strikers. These are those technology companies.”
Three examples of interventions in Dutch technology companies
1 At the beginning of this year, a consortium of five Dutch investors (including the state investment fund Invest-NL) bought a 25% stake in Enschede Unix for €3.5 million. This is the pioneer of ultra-modern (photonic) chip technology. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the aim of this investment was to increase Dutch control over the company compared to the current Chinese company.
2 In 2020, Eindhoven-based Smart Photonics received a loan worth $35 million, including $20 million from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK). The reason for this decision: “There was interest from third-country investors who seemed willing to make significant investments,” then-Secretary of State Mona Kejzer wrote in a letter to the House of Representatives.
3 At the beginning of this year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy launched an investigation into the possible acquisition of semiconductor manufacturer Nexperia by the Dutch company Novi (a maker of energy-efficient chips). It is headquartered in Nijmegen, but has been owned by Chinese company Wingtech Technology since 2018. According to Nowi itself, there are no risks because it does not manufacture strategically sensitive products. If EZK thought differently, the takeover could have been blocked.
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