This year's Budget Day was a top day for innovative entrepreneurs in the Netherlands as the budgets for all kinds of important tax measures and subsidies to promote Research & Development were substantially increased.
WBSO R&D tax credit scheme and Investment Fund
Let me start with the WBSO R&D tax credit scheme. The budget for this has now been increased to more than 1.2 billion euros! On top of that, a 1.7-billion-euro government investment fund is being made available, from which entrepreneurs can obtain interest-free loans for knowledge development, R&D or innovation.
Other excellent schemes include Techleap.nl, a platform that is going to support start-ups and scale-ups with 35 million euros to promote growth, and Mkb Innovatiestimulering Topsectoren (MIT). On Budget Day, the budget for the latter was increased by 25% to €39 million. These schemes put knowledge vouchers, feasibility projects and R&D partnerships within easy reach.
Last Thursday, I gave a workshop on 'Smart entrepreneurship from innovation to tax authorities' together with Tim Zwinkels of BDO and Tineke Schavemaker of RVO at the World Horti Center. It was an afternoon during which entrepreneurs who innovate and want to take advantage of the above-mentioned schemes and measures were presented with concrete tips.
Tim Zwinkels of BDO convinced me that in order to make the best possible use of these schemes and measures, you need to engage professionals. A lot of people are not aware, for instance, that in addition to R&D wage costs, there are many other costs that qualify for WBSO subsidies. And that is a pity. These include the costs of purchasing, renting and/or using an R&D space.
Tineke Schavemaker of RVO and her department are responsible for evaluating and awarding thousands of WBSO R&D tax credit and other innovation subsidy applications per year. Tough but inspiring work "I always appreciate entrepreneurs with plans," she says, "that's where it all starts. The horticultural sector is never boring."
Something for everyone
Tineke gave an insight into the broad range of innovation subsidies and tax schemes available. It is incredible how many possibilities there are! The schemes are closely interwoven and interconnect smartly. There are also specific schemes for companies active in the 9 top sectors Agri & Food, Chemistry, Creative Industry, Energy, High Tech & ICT, Life Science & Health, Logistics, Horticulture & Starting Materials and Water. They are very comprehensive and therefore open to lots of entrepreneurs.
It was an inspiring and motivating week for me. On Tuesday the clear sign from The Hague, and on Thursday the translation into what this means for entrepreneurs in concrete terms.
Important to remember
No matter how difficult the names or complex the constructions may be, there is a lot of financial support available for innovative entrepreneurs. Make sure you do not miss out on it. Get help, get to grips with the schemes and take advantage of the opportunities that are only going to increase in the coming year. Or, as Tim Zwinkels says: "when you work in collaboration with others, it is very important to ensure that you have the right legal structure in place so that you can take optimum advantage of all government incentives".