Another government IT failure: new food safety system is €59m over budget

Renewing the ageing IT system at the Dutch food and product safety board (NVWA) is going to cost at least €59m more than budgeted, farm minister Carola Schouten has told MPs. The original budget for the project was €36m but the total bill is now expected to hit €95m, the minister said is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS. In addition, the development process has taken 22 months longer than anticipated and the new system will not be completed until 2021. The overspend is partly due to buying additional hardware and processes to keep the current system working while the new one is being developed, she said. The NVWA project is far from the first government IT project to run into trouble. In 2014, a parliamentary commission concluded the state is wasting between €1bn and €5bn a year on failing IT projects. The commission was set up to look at six government IT projects which seriously overspent including the public transport smart card (ov-chipkaart), a new system for managing births, marriages and deaths, the C2000 communication system for the emergency services and, the jobs website run by the UWV benefit centres which was beset by computer failure  More >

New free paper for Amsterdam

A new free home-delivered newspaper, City, is being launched in Amsterdam in an effort to get around the effective ban on advertising flyers through the letterbox. HAH Retail, a publishing unit of printing group Emiel de Jong of Baarle-Nassau, is behind the effort, the Financieele Dagblad said on Tuesday. Since the beginning of the year, Amsterdam residents no longer receive flyers through their mailboxes unless they have attached a ‘ja/ja’ sticker to the flap in an effort to cut down on waste paper. But with door-to-door newspapers, advertisers will once again be able to reach potential customers, the FD said. The new periodical will have an initial print run of 318,000 and is expected to start up in mid-June. So far retailers Blokker, Kruidvat, Dirk van den Broek, and Seats and Sofas have signed up to City. Production is being handled by Trusted Media which is owned by Sjuul Paradijs and Jan-Kees Emmer, formerly editor and deputy editor of the Telegraaf.  More >

No more herring tests in the AD

The AD newspaper is abandoning its annual taste tests to find the best herring, New Year oliebollen and chips, after several controversies. Last year the comments used by judges to describe the 'worst' products were attacked for being crude and nasty, and there were doubts about the impartiality of one of the herring judges. 'As it became clear last year, there are a lot of differences of opinion when it comes to taste... too many differences as far as we are concerned,' AD editor in chief Hans Nijenhuis said in Friday's AD. 'We were testing and comparing to help you buy the best products, not to upset shopkeepers.' The criticism leveled at some suppliers included describing oliebollen as being like shoe soles or unfit to feed birds and herring as 'inedible, soft blubber'.   More >

Discovery Channel may move to Amsterdam

US broadcaster Discovery Channel is considering moving its European broadcasting base to Amsterdam, the Guardian has reported. If the British government fails to strike a deal to keep EU-wide broadcast rights post-Brexit, companies will have to look to the mainland if they want to continue to transmit across Europe, the paper said. The broadcaster, which puts out more than 100 TV channels including Eurosport, Animal Planet, Travel Channel as well as Discovery Channel, is said to be considering Amsterdam or Warsaw for the operation which will have a payroll of about 100. However, it will continue to employ 1,300 people in Britain, where it makes programmes and broadcasts16 channels to British viewers, the paper said. Netflix has based its European operations in the Dutch capital.  More >

A good brew: homelessness firm wins prize

A start-up company that wants to solve homelessness by training people to work as baristas won a $350,000 award in Amsterdam on Thursday night. Change Please, a London-based firm which pledges to train, help house and pay homeless people a ‘living wage’, won the Chivas Venture 2018 prize. The pitching process and ceremony was held at The Next Web Conference for start-ups, in Amsterdam's Westerpark, and judges included the Black Eyed Peas pop star and actor Cemal Ezel, who founded Change Please after being inspired by a tea shop run by a deaf woman in Vietnam, said has now offered to help with business connections in Los Angeles. ‘The margins on a cup of coffee are huge,’ he told ‘Homelessness is getting worse, and we are using that additional margin for good.’ His company, which has 22 outlets in the UK, sells its own fair-trade roasted coffee beans in 375 British stores, and serves businesses such as PWC, is aiming to launch in the United States this year and franchise its idea across the UK and America. He claims that 82% of the people he has helped still work for his business, or have a job, a year later. The awards also gave prizes of $200,000 to Mestic, a Dutch company that aims to make fibre from manure waste, and $100,000 to the Spanish BraiBook, an invention to translate text into braille and audio instantly. BraiBook also won the audience-voted award of $50,000. Waterless toilet Other finalists, also awarded $50,000, were change: WATER Labs, which has developed a waterless toilet for refugee camps and cities without sewage infrastructure, and The Picha Project, which provides employment for refugees in Malaysia by linking home cooks with caterers, companies and students who want to buy a meal. ‘Profit and positive social impact can co-exist,’ said, in a speech at the event. ‘Solving the challenges is good business. Uber helped solve racial profiling problems when [cabs] wouldn’t stop for a customer for fear of being robbed. The powers that be don’t want to see change happen. It is happening, but it all starts with solving a problem in society and being fearless.’ The Chivas Venture has given $3million to startups – taking no equity – since starting the annual competition in 2014, and Pernod Ricard chairman and chief executive Alexandre Ricard added: ‘It brings together entrepreneurs and innovators who are having a real impact on the world and changing the way we do business.’  More >

Dutch Eurovision spoof angers Israel

The Israeli embassy in the Netherlands has made a complaint about a satirical song in a television show hosted by popular comedian Sanne Wallis de Vries, accusing the broadcaster of anti-semitism, Dutch media said on Tuesday. The song, performed by Martine Sandifort, was a pastiche on Israel's Eurovision Song Contest winner Toy and focused on current events in the Middle East. The accompanying video includes images of the ongoing protests in Gaza. Broadcaster BNN-Vara said in a response that the video is not about the Jewish community but about current Israeli policy, NOS reported. 'The sections about world leaders and dollars have nothing to do with Nazi thought, they are a reference to the current tight links between Israel/Netanyahu and president Trump, in both a political and an economic sense,' the broadcaster said. The Amsterdam-based Israel documentation and information centre CIDI has also criticised the programme on Twitter, describing the song as full of 'hilarious' jokes about Jews and money. Hoi @SanneWallis, we hoorden je parodie op het songfestivalnummer van Israel. Vol met “hilarische” grapjes over Joden en geld enzo. Lachen! We hebben de tekst even nagekeken. Inzoomen om de opmerkingen te zien, het zijn er nogal veel! @BNNVARA — CIDI (@CIDI_nieuws) May 20, 2018 The row made the Israeli media, with newspaper Haaretz describing the new lyrics as a 'harsh attack' on Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. The Times of Israel refers to the fact that BNN-Vara is a public broadcaster in its report on the row, under the headline 'Dutch state TV accused of anti-Semitism in Israeli Eurovision song spoof'. While the parody starts off criticising Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, it 'devolves into anti-Semitic cliches about Jews and money', the paper said.   More >

Name change hits Heineken Music Hall

The concert hall formerly known as the Heineken Music Hall has tumbled down the list of the best places in the Netherlands to see live music since changing its name to AFAS Live, according to new research on the Netherlands' best cultural brands. Two years ago, the concert hall was fifth on the list but is now in just 17th place, the new ranking shows. The name changed at the beginning of last year, when the brewing group decided to end 15 years of sponsorship and software group AFAS took over. The concert hall with the best reputation, according to the new ranking is the Ziggo Dome followed by the Carré theatre, Ahoy Rotterdam and the Amsterdam Arena. Paradiso, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, is in sixth place. The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam has the best reputation of all museums and cultural institutions in the Netherlands, the research showed. Other rankings in the new research include best bands (Bløf, which has topped the list for 12 years), best festival (Parade) and most status-enhancing cultural pursuit (classical music concerts).  More >