Under the leadership of the royal couple, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima’s state visit, a large number of companies, several ministers and directors-general went on a trade mission to India from 13 to 18 October 2019.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1947 and have been cordial and friendly ever since. The connection between these two countries have always been very strong ever since that first Dutch ship docked the Malabar coast in Kerala.
While the royal couple participated in several parts of the trade mission’s programme, ministers, specialists, knowledge institutions, Dutch business representatives were keen on looking for business, start-up opportunities, potential investments, exchanging and sharing knowledge and engaging in bilateral relationship between the Netherlands and India. This high-level business delegation visited four cities in India -New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kochi- exploring five key sectors: Horticulture and Agri & Food, Health, Water & Waste, Maritime Infrastructure and High Tech Systems & IT.
The largest Indo-Dutch trade mission so far
The recently concluded trade mission, which was the largest Indo-Dutch trade mission so far, was represented by some of the well-known participants from Brabant. Eindhoven, as we know, is home to over 200 companies and institutions, comprising over 12.000 product developers, researchers, and entrepreneurs with more than 85 nationalities, responsible for more than 50% of all European patent registrations in the Netherlands. Global companies in the Brainport region like PHILIPS, NXP and TOMTOM have a long-standing and committed histories with India. Eindhoven, which is rated as the smartest region in the world, focusses on high tech, mobility, and design.
Lars de Vries, Senior Project Manager, India (BOM Foreign Investments) who joined this high level business delegation to India believes that Brabant has a strong connection with India.“This year some of the companies that represented Brabant in the trade mission to India were i-team global, Eindhoven Medical Robotics, NXP semiconductors, Van Doren Engineers/ Dutch Plantings, Pure Jute among others. Besides many important people from the Indo-Dutch network joined this mission, such as Henk Siebren de Jong of Royal Philips ( Chief of International Markets, Executive Vice President, Member of the Executive Committee) Maria van der Heijden MVO Nederland (Director), Joke van Dijk Water Governance and Water Management Expert from Van Dijk Water Management are a few to name.’
30-35 Indian companies based in Brabant
In Lars’ opinion these kind of trade missions are indeed fruitful. There are at the moment as many as 30 to 35 Indian companies based in Brabant, almost half of them are bsed in and around Eindhoven. This includes quite a few start-ups too. “I’ve now been working with the Indian companies for the past 12 years, helping them to set their foot in Brabant. The whole process is interesting, and although there are challenges involved for example cultural differences, I can say so far I’m quite satisfied with the outcome. I have become somewhat of an “expert on India”, although Indian businesses are complex to understand and sometimes that is the biggest challenge.”
Mr. De Vries talks about the numerous innovation opportunities that Brabant, especially Eindhoven offers. He talks about the role of BOM ( Brabant Development Agency) that helps new innovative companies to establish a foothold in this region. “Indians in India who own or lead a company and wish to start a business in the Netherlands, often still think first about Amsterdam. Somehow to them the Netherlands is Amsterdam and vice versa. We are trying to bring across the nuances. If we can change the mindset that Amsterdam is like Mumbai, then Eindhoven is like Bengaluru. Perception is everything. We strive to put Brabant on the map of the foreign and innovative entrepreneurs.”
Pure Jute- a truly Brabant company
‘We are a real Brabant company and we are happy to have many clients from North Brabant,’ says Désirée Rasenberg, Director of Pure Jute, a company founded by Ms. Rasenberg in the year 2010. Based in Cromvoirt, in Brabant, the company makes sustainable jute bags. It’s a concept that clearly proves that “a small local solution can become the seed of a global solution.” This year together with her daughter Maartje Prinsen, Ms. Rasenberg joined the trade mission to India. Ten years back she never thought she would be able to tell the royal couple about her company at a big summit in New Delhi. “It went well, we had a very interesting week with lots of network possibilities in India. The presence of the King and the Queen really brought lot of attention to my company. All of a sudden people are now listening to you and are very impressed.”
There is definitely a need to emphasize the huge advantages this region can offer to foreign entrepreneurs and start-ups in terms of mutual co-operation, knowledge exchange, investments and acceleration process, innovation expertise, comprehensive partnerships, and of course good guidance towards funding. For example Brabant is home to more than 1,600 corporations from abroad and Brabant is responsible for 50% of all European patent registrations in the Netherlands. There is a strong OEM base in the region with Philips, Thermo Fisher, NXP, Bosch, ASML and there are almost 16,000 researchers working in Brabant for global R & D centers. “That way we would not be missing good opportunities to bring in more business in the region that can positively contribute to the business ecosystem in Brabant, more specifically in Eindhoven,” explains Lars.
“The trade Mission to India was very relevant for NXP’: Maurice Geraets, MD NXP Netherlands
A very significant outcome from this trade mission is of course the technical collaboration that happened between NXP and HCL India. Here is what Maurice Geraets, Managing Director NXP Netherlands, had to say about this collaboration to me: “I believe that the trade mission to India was very relevant for NXP. We signed in the presence of the Dutch Royals and Ministers an MoU with HCL Technologies for the co-development of automotive and internet of things (IoT) products. HCL will contribute its technology and ecosystem in the automotive domain to enable NXP to strengthen its global leading position in Automotive. In addition HCL will use its strong position in internet of things to support NXP with the development of end-to-end IoT solutions.”
This trade mission surely was a great opportunity to showcase all the potential that is present in the Netherlands. According to the figures by India’s ministry of External Affairs, India and the Netherlands had bilateral trade turnover of $12.87bn in the period 2018-2019.
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Photo credit Lars de Vries; Désirée Rasenberg. RVD, het Koninklijk huis.
Special thanks to:
Lars de Vries, Senior Project Manager , India (BOM Foreign Investments)
Maurice Geraets, Managing Director NXP Netherlands.
Désirée Rasenberg, founder/Director of Pure Jute
Eveline Verholt, Marketing Information Advisor, (BOM Investments)