Holland Wants To Be Europe’s Best Place For Entrepreneurs
Posted on March 15, 2015
Stuck in the mud of a persistent and widespread economic downturn, Europe has been struggling to come up with inventive ways to kick start new businesses. Holland, meanwhile, has been the latest to promote one of the smartest tactics yet: the start-up visa.
Since January, the country has been inviting foreign entrepreneurs to apply for temporary national residence in exchange for launching and developing innovative businesses. The start-up visa, initially good for 12 months, is part of Holland’s new effort to transform itself into a bright star of the global start-up universe.
The start-up residence permit offers “the necessary support to develop into a mature enterprise,” and requires finding an experienced mentor based in the Netherlands to guide the firm, according to the Dutch government.
“The government wants to remove barriers and give ambitious entrepreneurs all possible scope for development,” according to the program’s announcement. Among the advantages: Access to capital, favorable tax regulations, availability of sources of innovation and knowledge and supporting legislation.
“Ambitious entrepreneurs and start-ups in particular, are a driving force behind the Dutch economy,” officials say. “They generate new jobs and therefore contribute significantly to economic growth and solutions to our societal challenges.”
Various conditions to facilitate growth of these companies are already in place, including a €75 million budget for early-stage financing, a new regulation that facilitates the application for the new visa and the appointment of Neelie Kroes as Special Envoy to “establish the Netherlands as the best country in Europe to start a business,” as announced by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
After a decade as European Commissioner, lastly as Commissioner for Digital Agenda, Kroes has been charged with strengthening the international position of start-ups in the Netherlands and persuading innovative foreign new firms to move their businesses there with the help of the StartupDelta Initiative.
StartupDelta, promoted by the Netherlands as “Europe’s Largest Startup Ecosystem,” is a joint public-private organization to “understand the challenges facing any new venture. We are fully-backed by the government and focused on simplifying the rules, sharing relevant expertise and opening doors to an unrivaled global network.”
The new initiative has set up shop at an old naval site near the center of Amsterdam.
The step-by-step conditions to receive a startup visa, according to the Expatcenter in Amsterdam, are:
– Work with an experienced mentor based in the Netherlands;
– Propose an innovative product or service;
– Present a detailed development\business plan;
– Be registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerc,Kamer van Koophandel;
– Provide proof of sufficient financial resources to live and establish business in the Netherlands for a year.
The application to the Dutch Inmigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) costs €307, and is filed through the embassy or consulate of the applicant’s home country, excepting applicants from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the US and South Korea, who can submit directly to the IND via its website.
The first startup visa was granted to Finn Hansen of New Zealand, whose business, Med Canvas, develops tools for collecting medical information for doctors and other medical professionals.
While Netherlands is the latest with the scheme and apparently the most comprehensive national program, Italy has been offering startup visas to non-Europeans since June 2014, adding incentives to make it easier and less expensive to qualify.
With €50,000 funding committed by investors as a condition, applicants get a response within a month. The application can be submitted directly to the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, and can be fast-tracked through mentoring or backing by a certified incubator.
“Contrary to Italy’s reputation, the bureaucracy associated with the program is minimal,” ZDNet reports. “Applicants have to make sure their proposal is innovative and that it falls within other parameters to qualify as startup, like being incorporated as a limited company or a cooperative under Italian law.”
So far, most of the applicants come from China, Israel, Pakistan and Russia.
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