Top Dutch News – 23 January 2024

Stay up to date with the latest news from the Netherlands!  Enjoy reading!

 Dutch startups raised €576M in Q4 2023, number of scale-up deals decreased: Quarterly Startup Report (Silicon Canals)

Dutch startups secured €576M in Q4 2023, a 5% decrease from the previous year. Despite a 27% decline in scale-up investments, the overall startup landscape thrived with 417 deals and increased smaller deals. Top deals included VectorY Therapeutics with €129M. Fintech and AI startups saw notable investments. Total funding for Dutch startups and scale-ups in 2023 reached €1.9B, outperforming global averages. Venture capital funds, especially in life sciences, emerged with available capital. Optimism for 2024 prevails, highlighting market stability and positive growth signs, with InvestNL playing a key role in DeepTech investments. Read more 

Dutch Klarna rival Billink adds €29.5M to its cart; enter the German market (Silicon Canals)

Dutch Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) firm Billink secured €29.5M in funding from German Varengold Bank for expansion into the German market. The funds will also enhance services for the top 50 Benelux web shops and support Billink’s goal of ensuring secure online transactions. Billink, competing with Klarna and Riverty, pioneers a post-receipt payment model, serving 3 million customers. CEO Frank Waagmeester emphasizes their local expertise, high customer retention, and a 4.7 Trustpilot rating. The funding partnership with Varengold Bank aims to solidify Billink’s position as a reliable online payment method with ongoing innovations in customer experience and AI applications. Read more

Friends of the Earth targets Dutch bank ING over fossil fuel financing (Reuters)

Climate group Friends of the Earth has announced its intention to hold ING liable for its climate policies, specifically its financing of the fossil fuel industry, marking the first step in a Dutch lawsuit. Shares in ING, the largest financial group in the Netherlands, dropped over 1% following the announcement. Friends of the Earth accuses ING of being a key contributor to the climate crisis due to its funding of polluters. ING, in response, expressed confidence in its impactful actions against climate change and stated it would respond in court if necessary. Friends of the Earth previously secured a victory against Shell. Read more

Rabobank launches Vitru, a new label for real estate financing built by PAQT (mt sprout)

Rabobank has launched Vitru, a new label for commercial real estate financing through intermediaries, developed by PAQT. Vitru finances rental properties up to €3 million, focusing on sustainable, long-term rentals. The intermediary portal, built by PAQT, supports intermediaries in submitting financing requests. Vitru complements Rabobank’s existing solutions and encourages sustainability by offering lower interest rates for better energy labels. The platform facilitates transparent and efficient processes, with an automatic link to the website for rates and connected intermediaries. Vitru aims to reward good landlords with lower rates, particularly those focusing on long-term, sustainable rentals. Read more

Home maintenance causes more legal disputes between neighbours (Dutch News)

Legal disputes between neighbors over home maintenance, including noisy heat pumps and solar panel reflections, surged by 36% to a record 11,100 cases in 2023, as reported by Achmea Rechtsbijstand. Contractor-related conflicts, often stemming from cost disputes, were prevalent, with attempts to revise fixed-price contracts causing issues. Solar panel disputes increased by 28%, following a doubling in 2022. Home energy efficiency upgrades also contributed to a 5% rise in conflicts between neighbors, including water damage caused by property work. Achmea noted a growing unwillingness to find common ground, with parties becoming more entrenched in their positions. Read more

Dutch govt presents vision for GenAI; identifies these 4 principles for responsible AI development (Silicon Canals) 

The Dutch government unveils its vision for generative AI, emphasizing the need to address challenges and opportunities. Minister for Digitalisation Alexandra van Huffelen stresses the importance of maintaining control and aligning AI development with public values. The government aims to stay at the forefront of AI innovation, investing in generative AI to compete globally. Six action lines focus on responsible AI development, including labor impact assessments and public education campaigns. Funding for open language model GPT-NL and the AINEd program is announced. Risks and challenges are acknowledged, prompting the establishment of four guiding principles for generative AI development in the Netherlands. Read more

Research: law to prevent bankruptcy works less well for SMEs (fd)

The Dutch law, Wet homologatie onderhands akkoord (Whoa), designed to prevent unnecessary business bankruptcies, has been evaluated, revealing its effectiveness in avoiding the collapse of viable companies but highlighting challenges for smaller businesses. The Whoa, implemented in 2021, allows companies to restructure debts through agreements with creditors. The evaluation indicates that while the law has successfully prevented numerous business failures, it is less effective for smaller businesses due to unfamiliarity and high costs. Researchers suggest improving information provision and reducing court fees for smaller businesses to enhance the Whoa’s suitability. The study advises a follow-up evaluation in five years. Read more

Strong start to the year fuels optimism about investments in tech companies (fd)

The Dutch tech investment landscape is off to a robust start in 2024, with €565 million in growth capital raised, signaling renewed optimism after a period of decline. Key investments include Soly (solar energy), Onera (sleep disorder equipment), and Qphox (quantum computer modem), reflecting a positive shift in investor sentiment. The Quarterly Startup Report notes the first signs of growth, with government investments, acquisitions, and IPOs expected to further bolster the startup ecosystem. While investments dipped in Q4 2023, recent funding announcements and optimistic signals suggest a more favorable climate, with expectations of a stronger year ahead in 2024. Read more

Fortunately, the pension law holds (fd)

The Dutch pension sector is relieved after the House of Representatives debate on the Pension Act, as concerns of a frontal attack by NSC, Pieter Omtzigt’s party, were minimal. NSC did not oppose the ongoing preparations to convert collective pension capital into personal pots, avoiding a motion for a referendum on entry. The author argues against a referendum, citing potential delays, lack of representation, and a propensity for misinformation. Despite critics highlighting conflicts with property rights, the author emphasizes the fairness achieved through extensive preparation, parliamentary debates, and expert involvement in the pension reform. Read more

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