Startup: funding from the government

Using government funding to invest in your startup. Or applying for government funding for your scale-up. Although you may not have thought of this before, there are many opportunities available.

The Dutch government offers credits and other financial schemes for startups and scale-ups. The selection below contains the schemes which are partially accessible to both startups and scale-ups. 

Schemes for startups 

1. Early-stage funding 

The scheme offers co-financiering for the step from idea to the start of product development. This stage revolves around creating and verifying commercial concepts, identifying the appropriate market and developing the appropriate licences (intellectual property). Since the start of 2021, there has also been a regional variant (in Dutch). Provincial authorities can use this money to set up a fund. 

2. WBSO 

You can reduce the financial burden of research and development (R&D) through the WBSO. WBSO is an acronym for Wet Bevordering Speur en Ontwikkelingswerk (Research and Development (Promotion) Act. The scheme reduces the wage costs for your R&D staff or gives you an additional tax credit as an entrepreneur, including for prototypes or research equipment and devices. This scheme also applies to scale-ups. 

3. Innovation credit 

The innovation credit is intended for the developmental stage of new products, processes, or services. You are working hard to get a project up and running, but have not started generating revenue yet. You can apply for a loan for innovative ideas in the technical or clinical field. The innovation credit also applies to scale-ups. 

4. Seed Business Angels 

Seed Business Angel Funds are intended for tech startups. A fund finances by buying shares from businesses, possibly plus subordinated or convertible loans. In addition to financing, business angels will also make sure you have access to experienced, enterprising investors to bounce ideas off of. Seed Business Angel funds can invest a minimum of €50,000 and a maximum of €500,000 per tech startup. If you require more money, you might want to consider the Seed Capital scheme. 

5. Seed capital 

The Seed Capital scheme focuses mainly on tech startups and creative startups. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy provides capital to investment funds. They use venture capital to invest in innovative businesses in the technology and creative industries. 

6. Credit Guarantee for SMEs 

Under this scheme, the government acts as a guarantor for business finance. Banks and other financiers are more likely to grant a loan if the government acts as a guarantor, at least in part. The guarantee provides them with more security, for example if there is a shortage of buildings or machines. New and technologically innovative businesses can count on favourable terms for startup loans. 

Schemes for scale-ups 

7. Growth Facility 

The Growth Facility helps businesses attract risk-bearing capital by providing guarantees for subordinated loans from banks and for shares from private equity firms. Under the Growth Facility, the financier receives a 50% guarantee on the risk-bearing capital they provide. In the event of loss, the government compensates 50% of this loss, thereby significantly reducing the financier’s risk. The Growth Facility scheme has been extended until 1 July 2024. 

8. Business Financing Guarantee 

The scheme helps medium-sized and large companies to secure bank loans and bank guarantees. The Business Loan Guarantee keeps credit flows going so that entrepreneurs can keep their businesses running. The Business Financing Guarantee has been liberalised as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. 

  • The amount of the loan guaranteed by the government has been increased to €150 million.
  • The maximum guarantee percentage is 50%.
  • The scheme runs until mid-2025.

9. Dutch Good Growth Fund 

The Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) supports SMEs that conduct business with developing countries and emerging markets. If applying for a bank loan is not an option, the fund provides support in the form of loans, guarantees, and participations with a repayment obligation. This also applies, to some extent, to startups. If you are exporting capital goods to one or more of the DGGF countries, the Export component provides export credit insurance and export financing. 

10. Dutch Trade and Investment Fund 

The fund helps Dutch SMEs that conduct business with countries not included on the list of the Dutch Good Growth Fund. The Investment component provides support in the form of loans, guarantees, and participations with a repayment obligation. If you export capital goods to one or more of the Dutch Trade and Investment Fund countries, the export component provides export credit insurance and export financing. 

Startup Box Selection Tool 

The Startup Box is a checklist that you must complete in order to select the appropriate scheme for your situation. Since the language of communication for many startups is English, this is an English-language tool. 

Other opportunities

Applying for funding 

RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) is responsible for administering the schemes. You can check their website to see if you meet the terms and conditions. View the tips for applying for a grant or subsidy

Regional Development Agencies (ROMs) 

The Regional Development Agencies provide funding to innovative and fast-growing companies. 

Invest-NL 

Invest-NLis a private investment fund financed by the Dutch government with a focus on the energy transition and innovative scale-ups. The guideline for Invest-NL investment amounts is €5 million, with the fund financing a maximum of 50% of the required amount. This means one or more investors must also invest €5 million.

Quick Scan 

Through a series of short targeted questions, Invest-NL can assess whether a project or company is eligible for a contribution. Do the Quick Scan (in Dutch) to check if your project qualifies. 

European funding schemes 

There are a number of European funding schemes in place.

Non-financial schemes and programmes 

In addition to funding schemes, there are also a number of programmes you can join. Startup officers can put you in touch with the government, for example as a launching customer. The COSTA platform facilitates cooperation between corporates and startups. 

There is also a network of mentors that provides startups access to international networks. Read all about launching your own startup, including a list of coaching and business growth programmes. Nlgroeit (in Dutch) is an example of a programme for scale-ups with a minimum revenue of €1 million. 

Get help

Getting others to help you increases your chances of obtaining funding. And with the right advisor and a good financial rationale, you will get your finance application approved in no time. These advisers will help you get started.