Start-ups call for government aid package to start

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Experts are concerned that a €100m rescue fund for new businesses hard hit by the coronavirus expected to open at the end of April may not save valuable new firms. Some start-ups and capital investors believe that viable business ideas are under threat, according to the NOS broadcaster. surveyed 445 startups – 8% of the estimated total – in March and found that half had lost money due to the corona crisis and expected to run out of funds in the next three months. While some would fail anyway, partner at CapitalT investment fund Janneke Niessen reportedly told the NOS, ‘there are companies that are basically healthy that aren’t going to make it.’

Lucien Burm, chairman of the Dutch Startup Association – which has repeatedly lobbied the government for a full package of support – told that the sector needs more than the €100m fund.

‘This is a first step but there are more needed,’ he said. ‘We realise that everyone is working hard to make regulations, but we are most concerned about the speed at which they are carried out.’

He added that they are concerned about how certain criteria for government support will be applied to start-ups, which are a long way from breaking even but may be potentially very successful businesses in future.

‘There is a lot of uncertainty, and we need clarity quickly,’ he said. ‘It is clear that many promising start-ups and scale-ups are preparing for redundancies. This has huge consequences for economic recovery, where start-ups are crucial in growing jobs and innovation capacities.’

His organisation is also lobbying for a government ruling to support 90% of salary costs for standard businesses hit by the corona crisis to be applied to start-ups too, rather than asking them to take on more debts.

However Prof Erik Stam, head of the Utrecht University School of Economics told the NOS that it was difficult to know whether the €100m injection would be suffient. ‘I think it’s most important that the regulation comes into effect now, before we conclude that it is not enough,’ he reportedly said.

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