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The Hague is the first city to digitally support international startups when expanding to Europe


COVID-19 crisis is having its negative impact on local as well as foreign direct investments (FDI) in The Hague. With the bridging measures from the Government and the extra funds to keep the economy working, the city will and is now facing very challenging times. In these turbulent times of hardship and uncertainty it is extremely important to keep the international and investment climate attractive for business. The Hague, a city with many business connections and international talent, has chosen to keep focus on innovation and foreign investments.

The Hague is the first city in the Netherlands to launch a digital platform that helps international startups to establish themselves in the city. The so-called Digital Soft Landing Programme sets The Hague apart from other cities and regions in the Netherlands. This will enable it to attract international companies to the city, which can eventually provide foreign direct investment (FDI) and jobs in The Hague.

When an innovation-oriented startup is looking for a location to establish itself, the start-up company looks for a location where it can easily access the network of international organisations, knowledge centres, government institutions and a talent pool. The Hague is now the first city in the Netherlands to offer a digital platform for this, which makes the step to establish an international company in The Hague more attractive and easier. The Digital Soft Landing Programme was set up as a collaboration between the Municipality of The Hague, The Hague & Partners and innovation hubs in the city.

"The corona crisis has had a negative effect on both local investment and foreign direct investment (FDI) in The Hague for months," says Business Advisor Anesh Kisoen of The Hague & Partners. “Despite the temporary measures taken by the government and the extra resources to keep the economy going, the city is now facing very challenging times and also for in the future. In these turbulent times full of uncertainties, it is very important that the international and investment climate is kept attractive for the business community. The Hague, a city with many business contacts and international talent, has chosen to continue to focus on innovation and foreign investment''. For many international companies, result-oriented startups and growing companies, The Hague is still a gateway to Europe, because of the large network of international organisations, knowledge centres, government institutions and a large talent pool, even in times of crisis. “The Hague is an Impact City, where we help innovative entrepreneurs to start and grow successfully,” explains Kisoen.

The Hague & Partners is responsible for attracting international companies and organisations to The Hague region. By using new ways of recruiting, the organisation ensures that the city continues to distinguish itself and gain an advantage over other business locations. “Thanks to the Digital Soft landing Programme. The Hague is setting an example for other cities and regions,” says Kisoen.

Alderman for Economy Saskia Bruines: “The municipality of The Hague has a good relationship with India. In November 2019, we were on a working visit to Bangalore, among others, for just under a week with a delegation from government and industry from The Hague and the region. By encountering this, we were able to establish the arrival of two Indian tech companies in our city: eMudhra and JK Technosoft. Working visits to India are not possible this year due to the measures against corona. This digital programme proves that in the meantime we do not have to sit and do nothing to create more employment in the sectors that we find interesting. ”

The Digital Soft Landing Programme

The digital soft landing platform (DSP) is a new online platform where international startups with a focus on impact innovation are fully prepared for entry into the European market through the Hague ecosystem. This process is straightforward and consists of 4 parts:

Step 1: Explore - The company will be offered a digital Fact Finding Trip (FFT). During this FFT, the startup will receive orientation meetings with relevant partners which will provide an overview of the possibilities within the ecosystem.

Step 2: Adjust - If the startup sees potential in the European market, its proposition must be adjusted to relevance for the European market by means of a market readiness training.

Step 3: Connect - Once the market readiness training has been completed, the startups proposition can be marketed. During this part, called matchmaking, the company is presented and linked to relevant partners and potential customers within the ecosystem.

Step 4: Integrate - This is the last step, involving the startup integrating within the Tech and Impact City community of The Hague. Once the process has been completed, the company will have the opportunity to make the step towards physical relocation to The Hague.

Economic spin-off

Additional advantages of the DSP are that the startups that have fully completed the process are therefore better prepared for European expansion and will have a higher chance of commercial success in the European market, leading to faster job creation. The Hague is taking the lead in digital acquisition approach and opens up opportunities for RVO to roll out this approach nationwide.

The ultimate goal of the first pilot of this platform is the physical relocation of the Indian startups to The Hague once they have successfully completed this program.

Ecosystem collaboration

The Hague & Partners is the initiator of the project with the Impact City programme of the municipality of The Hague. For the implementation of the program, there is intensive collaboration with knowledge partners and innovation hubs within the city of The Hague. World Startup and The Hague Tech will mainly play a role in preparing the startups for the European market and their integration into the Hague ecosystem. In addition, parties such as Yes Delft!, Humanity Hub, Apollo 14, The Hague Security Delta, Innovation Quarter and Greenport are deployed as knowledge partners in their field of expertise. Our aim is that these activities do not stand alone, but that we work closely with the Innovation Quarter to embed the proposed approach directly in the regional infrastructure. In this way we ensure that the agenda of The Hague is well positioned in the regional policy and associated programs.

Why India?

The Hague and India have a large number of social entrepreneurs. Since 2016, The Hague has been actively developing an Impact cluster in which the aim is to create a better, safer and just world. The Hague is currently positioned as the Impact capital of Europe. In combination with its position as the top 5 emerging tech hub in Europe, the city has the ideal infrastructure to facilitate startups in the crossover of impact innovation.

The focus on impact innovation startups stems from the fact that India is a country where the proposition of impact strongly emerges in combination technology. This is due to the many social challenges that the country is experiencing at the moment. This creates many opportunities for entrepreneurs. As a result a large number of startups have emerged that make an impact by overcoming these social challenges through their technological solutions.

These startups in the domain of impact innovation are a strategic addition to the ecosystem of The Hague, as they often make use of the key technologies with which they tackle at least one "sustainable development goal". It is precisely for this niche that The Hague offers the ideal start-up infrastructure to start and grow in the European market. This is because The Hague is one of the five fastest growing tech hubs in Europe, in combination with its leading proposition as Impact capital within the continent.

Within the platform, the focus is divided into the following areas:

- Impactful AI

- Impactful smart cities

- Impactful Agri-tech

- Impactful Cyber

- Impactful health tech

- Impactful Smart cities

Regarding The Hague & Partners

It is a very special year for The Hague & Partners due to the fact that this year the company exists for exactly 20 years. Over the past two decades, the organisation has recruited a large number of foreign companies that have established themselves in The Hague. In 2019, The Hague & Partners was able to bring 42 new international companies to The Hague, consequently ensuring these companies are more than proficient for around 32 million euros in investments. These companies together expect to create 690 new jobs in The Hague in the next three years. An example of a company that was helped by The Hague & Partners in 2019 to establish itself in The Hague is the journalistic research platform Bellingcat. Other examples of newly recruited international companies are the Indian IT companies; JK Technosoft and eMudhra. 

Anesh Kisoen

Get in touch with Anesh

If you have questions regarding this program, you can contact Anesh by email or phone: +31648369358