In this episode, Mark de Lange – founder of Ace & Tate – is sharing the story behind the brand that revolutionised the eyewear e-commerce industry in Europe. He is explaining how branding was crucial for the expansion of Ace & Tate and how he overcame the challenge of finding the right VC investors. Mark reveals his management style and how he is working with his team to offer to his customers high quality, thoughtfully designed glasses at a fair price.

King’s annual speech

In the tenth annual throne speech, the king focused on protecting the ‘social fabric of our society’, requiring equality of opportunities, livelihood security and perspective. The king mentioned the importance of innovative Dutch businesses, laying the foundation for our prosperity. “Earning always comes before distributing”. Entrepreneurs provide the financial capabilities to address major social issues. The cabinet continues to strive for the most attractive business climate possible and continues to work on strengthening our innovative strength, competitive position and a predictable and stable (fiscal) policy. Briefly discussed were digitization and AI, which present both opportunities and risks.

In the budget proposal of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, there is a relatively large focus on the importance of startups and scaleups. The ministry calls the creativity and innovation power of startups and scaleups in the ecosystem the job engine of the future. By 2024, the government is committed to an innovative, sustainable, strong and prosperous economy with the highest possible broad prosperity from which everyone can benefit. As such, ‘broad welfare’ is a central concept in the Budget Memorandum (‘Miljoenennota’) as well as in the budget plans of various ministries.

Relevant highlights for startups and scaleups

  • The government aspires to strengthen the Netherlands’ innovation power and build the most favorable business environment for startups and scaleups in Europe.
  • The government is committed to policy interventions that make a difference for startups and scaleups (“game-changers”) and is working to link technology and innovation policy to innovative entrepreneurship.
  • Furthermore, there is a commitment to:
    • Support knowledge-intensive deeptech startups;
    • Improve the number of startups growing to scaleups;
    • Strengthen venture capital market and mobilise institutional investors to invest in socially engaged startups and scaleups;
    • Grow the availability of talent;
    • Continue the growth of startups to scaleups;
    • Create a stronger focus on valorisation;
    • Increase R&D spending to 3% of DGP, with a special focus on the exploitation of the knowledge of startups and scaleups.
  • The government is participating with €100 million in the European Tech Champions Initiative of the European Investment Fund. This will better enable European companies to finance their continued growth.
  • Economic Security Protection Fund: by the end of 2023, a new €100 million fund will become available for the protection of strategic sectors and technologies (in the context of increasing economic resilience and reducing strategic dependencies).

Upcoming policy plans

  • Investment fund Invest-NL has been asked to explore whether pension funds can play a role in funding venture capital funds.
  • The cabinet publishes a new technology strategy, expected to be presented by the end of 2023.
  • In preparation are the Knowledge and Innovation Agendas and the Knowledge and Innovation Covenant for the period 2024-2027, with a stronger focus on the major transitions (climate/energy, digitalisation and circular economy) and a stronger commitment to knowledge valorisation and market creation.
  • In 2023, the evaluations of the following tax schemes are scheduled: Seed Capital, Early Stage Financing (VFF) and the Dutch Venture Initiative (DVI). The results of these evaluations will be presented to the Lower House in 2024.
  • Evaluation in 2024: Monitoring stock options startups (this study focuses on monitoring the effects of the new stock option scheme).

Next steps

  • Members of Parliament are discussing the main policy plans with Prime Minister Rutte and Minister of Finance Kaag in the so-called General Political Considerations (APB). This year is different due to the caretaker status. As no policy file has been declared controversial, parties are given free rein to address a wide range of issues and position themselves towards elections.
  • After the APBs, each parliamentary committee discusses the budget proposals. Essentially, all budgets for 2024 will undergo review and discussion in the new Lower House following the parliamentary elections on November 22nd. Except for the Finance and National Debt budget (3-5 October) and Economic Affairs and Climate (between 10-19 October).
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