The Dutch government is to relax the employment rules for start-ups and scale-ups, dropping the requirement that owners pay themselves a salary of at least €44,000 a year.
Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp said on Tuesday that it is crucial the Netherlands remains a ‘breeding ground for new products, services and business models’.
As part of this, founders will now be allowed to pay themselves the minimum wage – around €19,500 a year – for the first three years of operation, Kamp said. This, he said, will free up more cash to invest in the company itself.
The government has also set aside €23m to invest in start-ups and small firms, in tandem with private investors, Kamp said.
The minister made the announcement at the start of this week’s Startup Fest – a week-long series of events across the country promoting the Netherlands as a hotbed of innovation.
The event runs from the 24 to the 28 of May in thirteen Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Eindhoven, and events are grouped around topics such as energy, high tech, mobile technology and smart cities.
The promotion of the Netherlands as a Silicon Valley style ‘west coast of Europe’ is one of the Dutch government’s aims during the Netherlands’ 2016 presidency of the European Union.
However, some people within the startup community in the Netherlands have their doubts about the government’s role. A source, with years of experience in the Dutch start-up circuit, told DutchNews.nl that ‘government-led campaigns like this are [never] anything more than a show.’
It’s an expensive show, too. The opening day in Amsterdam alone will set corporate visitors and tech entrepreneurs beyond the start-up phase back €990 before tax. Start-ups themselves were able to apply for a limited number of reduced price tickets.
This princely sum buys attendees the chance to hear Google’s Eric Schmidt, Apple’s Tim Cook and prime minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte talk about disruption, growth and competitiveness.
Most young entrepreneurs and fresh start-ups will find themselves excluded from the opening day’s main event however. Organised by Deloitte, the ‘Executive Edge CEO Session’, an intimate gathering where powerful CEOs will exchange business insights and discuss ‘founders spirit’, is an invite-only affair, restricted to ‘Europe’s leading CEOs’.
‘I don’t understand the choice of VIPs really,’ a source told DutchNews. ‘Tim Cook et al can’t really help Startup Delta [one of the event’s organisers] achieve its goals and they’re not going to offer to be mentors to the rising stars.’
During the event, Kamp announced that prince Constantijn, brother of king Willem-Alexander, will succeed Neelie Kroes as the Netherlands’ official start-up ambassador.
Kroes retires in July after 18 months in the role.
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