Toespraak van minister Kamp bij de opening van de Innovative Enterprise Conference

Toespraak van minister Kamp (EZ) bij de opening van de Innovative Enterprise Conference in Den Haag op 31 maart 2016. De speech is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar, waarbij het gesproken woord geldt.

Minister Henk Kamp

Minister Henk Kamp

Ladies and gentlemen,

The number of people with Parkinson’s disease is on the rise. In Eindhoven, the company Sapiens SBS – that stands for Steering Brain Stimulation – has designed a very sophisticated electrode that provides deep stimulation of specific areas in the brain of people with Parkinson’s. This alleviates their symptoms and greatly improves their quality of life.

In 2014 the US medical technology company Medtronic acquired Sapiens SBS for 150 million euros. It sees so much potential in Sapiens SBS and in Brainport, the innovative region around Eindhoven, that it’s planning to locate one of its worldwide R&D centres there. This is a great success story for Sapiens SBS, a Philips spinout which only began operating independently in 2011.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The recession hit Europe and the rest of the world hard. Since then, we’ve done our best to get our economies moving again – and keep them moving. To do this, we need young, innovative companies. Companies like Sapiens SBS, and Adyen. And we need entrepreneurs like Jos Joore, the Dutchman who developed ‘organs on a chip’. He’ll be speaking today at TEDxBinnenhof. His invention will allow new drugs to be tested without using animals or humans. Innovative businesses like this make a vital contribution to our earning power and our economy. They create jobs and help find solutions to problems in society.

Innovative enterprises are precisely what we’ve come here today to discuss. And not just at today’s conference. Entrepreneurs are centre stage all week. This afternoon, the twelve TEDxBinnenhof finalists will be speaking in the Knights’ Hall. And tomorrow, SME envoys will hold a meeting in Amsterdam attended by Her Majesty the Queen.

As economic growth picks up, innovative entrepreneurs are looking to attract finance for their activities. This is proving to be a challenge. Economic conditions and business practices are changing, and the world of finance is changing too. Traditional bank loans are less geared to the risk profile of innovative activities.

Banks are increasingly saying 'no' to innovative entrepreneurs seeking risk capital. To grow innovative companies, it’s vital to strengthen new forms of risk capital, like venture capital and private equity. And to embrace new technological solutions, for instance in FinTech. They can give the financing of innovations a major boost. But innovative businesses will still need bank finance. For example, once they’ve obtained risk capital and need follow-up finance. To increase the supply of risk capital for SMEs, this government has initiated a special SME finance action plan. And we’ve put credit guarantee schemes in place, to make up for the shortfall in security for banks and other finance providers.

The EU and individual member states have a key role to play in encouraging and facilitating new forms of finance. For this, they’re using tools like tax incentives, guarantees or funds of funds. It’s important for authorities at regional, national and European level to join forces. In the Netherlands we have good experience with the Dutch Venture Initiative I. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, the European Investment Fund and the North Brabant region have injected 200 million euros into this fund. This has also released private funding, so that some 1.2 billion euros is now available for SME investments. In the future, instead of different authorities operating alone, they should work together to achieve maximum impact. So I’m delighted that I’ll shortly be launching the Dutch Venture Initiative II, together with Pier Luigi Gilibert from the European Investment Fund.

A fine EU initiative is the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), recently launched by the European Commission. It aims to strengthen the European economy at its base by facilitating projects that can drive economic growth in areas like infrastructure, health care, energy and SME financing.

Last year the Dutch government set up the Netherlands Investment Agency (NIA) to advise Dutch businesses and projects that are interested in EFSI. The NIA helps them set up their projects and prepare funding applications for the best chance of success. For businesses and projects that seek backing from public and private investors, the NIA organises the partnerships, and brings together the resources and expertise of co-financiers and various authorities – regional, national and international. In this regard, it has a similar task to national promotional banks in other member states.

The financing plans of the Commission and member states can only succeed if businesses know how to navigate the new financing landscape. That’s not always easy. And that’s why the Netherlands and the Commission have organised this third Innovative Enterprise conference, following the successful conferences in Riga and Luxembourg.

The conference enables entrepreneurs, financiers and intermediaries like yourselves to learn more about the EU investment programme, alternative sources of finance, and national and local financing tools.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It was the significant contribution and assistance provided by one of the Dutch Venture Initiative funds that enabled Sapiens SBS to conduct its pioneering work. In 2011 the company started out with three researchers. Today it employs over 70 people. Thanks to its innovative treatment for Parkinson’s patients, it’s also helping to solve a societal problem – exactly what we expect from an innovative business.

I hope you will all seize the opportunities this conference offers. The EU and its member states are ready to help you find your way in the world of financing. I’d like to end by wishing you all a warm welcome and an enjoyable and productive conference.

Thank you.