Chapter 32. The Netherlands

Figure 32.1. Structure and performance of the SME sector in The Netherlands
Figure 32.1. Structure and performance of the SME sector in The Netherlands

Sources: Charts A, C, D: OECD Structural and Demographic Business Statistics Database 2018, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/sdbs-data-en; Chart B: OECD Timely Indicators of Entrepreneurship Database 2018, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/sdbs-data-en; Chart E: OECD Structural and Demographic Business Statistics Database 2018, Employer Business demography dataset.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933925407

SME business conditions and access to strategic resources

Institutional and regulatory framework

The Netherlands offers among the most OECD accommodative regulatory conditions to businesses. But administrative burden on start-ups and the cost for starting a business remain comparatively high. The Dutch Advisory Board on Regulatory Burdens (ATR) (2017-21) reviews all new regulations with a view to reducing burdens on firms and citizens. A mandatory electronic filing system for financial statements was introduced in 2017 that alleviates SME administrative procedures. As part of the Coalition Agreement 2017, the Dutch government has outlined plans for reforming tax and regulatory policies over 2018-21 with a view to fighting tax evasion and levelling the playing field for SMEs. One of the first measures taken is a reduction of SME corporate income tax rate from 20% to 16%.

Market conditions

Access to global markets, especially the European market, is key for the very open Dutch economy. The authorities have been pro-active in reducing barriers to international trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) and the Netherlands shows among the best OECD performance in terms of trade and FDI facilitation. Considering the important trade and investment linkages with the UK, online and physical desks since 2016 provide SMEs with assistance in calculating the impact of Brexit on their business. EUR 10 million are also to be invested annually over 2017-21 for strengthening multi-year programming and international public-private cooperation in trade, innovation and foreign investment.

Infrastructure

The Netherlands invests considerably more in ICT than the OECD median and its fixed broadband is also more broadly diffused. Performance in terms of mobile broadband penetration is however on par with the median. While earlier focus of digital policy was on digitalising the government, the Digital Agenda 2017 adopts a broader approach for driving the transformation of sectors such as healthcare or mobility. Special focus is given to build open and high-speed infrastructure, move to the 5G and improve security and trust.

Access to finance

Dutch SME lending has recovered and outstanding loans now exceed pre-crisis levels. Venture capital investments have reached the highest point of the decade in 2017 and are on par with the OECD median. The government is targeting high-potential SMEs and supports Fintech initiatives. The Dutch Venture Initiative II (2016) is a EUR 200 million venture and growth capital fund-of-funds that invests in sectors such as ICT or clean or medical tech. The EUR 100 million Dutch Growth Co-Investment Programme (2017) targets the second equity gap that start-ups face when they intend to grow. And the National Promotional Institution (Invest-NL) was set up in 2017 to, amongst other things, finance and develop viable SMEs. In 2016, the Authority for the Financial Markets and the Dutch Central Bank created the Innovation Hub that provides guidance on supervision and regulations relating to innovative financial products.

Access to skills

The Netherlands ranks high with regards to adult digital literacy and student proficiency in core competences is above median. However, national data show that 25% of SMEs experience difficulties in finding qualified people and 57% of enterprises advertising ICT positions struggle hiring experts (2016). The 2015 Make IT Work programme to re-train university students as ICT experts was expanded in 2017 and new university programmes on entrepreneurship and data science were launched in 2016. As a part of the Dutch Technology Pact, SME-Idea is an experiment that challenges entrepreneurs in finding solutions for removing barriers to schooling and workers development. In addition public-private partnerships (PPPs) between vocational education, universities and businesses are gaining in importance.

Access to innovation assets

Dutch SMEs use more digital technologies than the OECD median, e.g. high-speed broadband, cloud computing or big data analytics. The government is pursuing its Top Sectors policy and the Knowledge and Innovation Agenda (2018-21) aims to strengthen PPPs. The 2016 Digital Agenda makes big data a growth engine of the Top sectors. Commit2Data (2017) brings together SMEs, researchers and large firms in hubs to investigate new Big Data business models. The Platform NL Grows (2016) helps entrepreneurs grow their business by connecting them with fellow entrepreneurs, coaches and educators.

The full country profile is available at https://doi.org/10.1787/34907e9c-en

References

De Nederlandsche Bank (n.d.), InnovationHub AFM & DNB, https://www.dnb.nl/en/supervision/innovationhub/index.jsp#.

De Staat van het MKB (n.d.), Statistics Netherlands, https://www.staatvanhetmkb.nl/.

Dutch Digital Delta (2018), Commit2Data, https://commit2data.nl/en.

EIF (2017), Dutch Growth Co-Investment Programme, European Investment Fund, http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/resources/dutch-growth-co-investment-programme/index.htm (accessed on 15 November 2018).

European Commission (2017), 2017 SBA Fact Sheet, Netherlands, http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiB68e7_dPeAhXHyIUKHarWDFMQFjAAegQICRAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fec.europa.eu%2FDocsRoom%2Fdocuments%2F26562%2Fattachments%2F22%2Ftranslations%2Fen%2Frenditions%2Fnative&usg=A (accessed on 15 November 2018).

European Commission (2017), Investment Plan for Europe. Country Factsheet: Portugal, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/portugal-investment-plan-factsheet-17x17-june17_en.pdf (accessed on 22 June 2018).

Government of the Netherlands (2016), Digital agenda for the Netherlands innovation, trust, acceleration, https://www.government.nl/topics/ict/documents/reports/2017/04/11/digital-agenda-for-the-netherlands-innovation-trust-acceleration (accessed on 15 November 2018).

OECD (2018), OECD Economic Surveys: Netherlands 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/eco_surveys-nld-2018-en.

De Nederlandsche Bank (n.d.), InnovationHub AFM & DNB, https://www.dnb.nl/en/supervision/innovationhub/index.jsp#.

De Staat van het MKB (n.d.), Statistics Netherlands, https://www.staatvanhetmkb.nl/.

Dutch Digital Delta (2018), Commit2Data, https://commit2data.nl/en.

EIF (2017), Dutch Growth Co-Investment Programme, European Investment Fund, http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/resources/dutch-growth-co-investment-programme/index.htm (accessed on 15 November 2018).

European Commission (2017), 2017 SBA Fact Sheet, Netherlands, http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiB68e7_dPeAhXHyIUKHarWDFMQFjAAegQICRAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fec.europa.eu%2FDocsRoom%2Fdocuments%2F26562%2Fattachments%2F22%2Ftranslations%2Fen%2Frenditions%2Fnative&usg=A (accessed on 15 November 2018).

European Commission (2017), Investment Plan for Europe. Country Factsheet: Portugal, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/portugal-investment-plan-factsheet-17x17-june17_en.pdf (accessed on 22 June 2018).

Government of the Netherlands (2016), Digital agenda for the Netherlands innovation, trust, acceleration, https://www.government.nl/topics/ict/documents/reports/2017/04/11/digital-agenda-for-the-netherlands-innovation-trust-acceleration (accessed on 15 November 2018).

OECD (2018), OECD Economic Surveys: Netherlands 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/eco_surveys-nld-2018-en.

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