Navigating Europe's business landscape from the Hague

A TechSparks 2021 Masterclass on the Hague's Digital Softlanding Program provides a guided tour for Indian entrepreneurs eyeing market expansion in Europe.
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Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a number of travel restrictions and regulatory enforcements that have hindered business expansion across geographic borders.

In that complex backdrop, The Hague Business Agency is helping entrepreneurs in India create a path for businesses in the European Union (EU) — with its Digital Softlanding Program.

“We believe that even in COVID-19 times, we must support entrepreneurs to keep exploring new opportunities and markets,” says Anesh Kisoen, International Business Advisor Tech, The Hague Business Agency, in his Masterclass session at TechSparks 2021, India's most influential startup-tech conference, organised by YourStory.

With the theme 'What's Next: Rethinking the future', TechSparks 2021 is providing a platform for the most defining conversations on how disruptive technology innovations can shape our lives post pandemic.

“We saw a real problem in terms of very passionate and driven entrepreneurs whose growth had stagnated due to the pandemic," Kisoen says. "We want to find a way to help them explore the European market remotely.”

The hour-long Masterclass features Kisoen, and Stef Prinsen, Senior Account Manager of Innovation Quarter, the economic development agency for The Hague. It delves into the four-step softlanding program: explore, adjust, connect, and integrate within the Netherlands ecosystem at the Hague.

The Digital Softlanding Program is an online way for entrepreneurs from India to take their innovative startups to Europe through the Hague. "India was the first anchor point for us to start researching the collaboration because the Hague has the largest Indian diaspora," says Kisoen.

After Brexit, the Hague became the largest region for Indians in the EU, which paved the way for policymakers to attract more Indian businesses, and work with governments here to facilitate exchange of research, innovation, and enterprise.

The softlanding program is built on the memoranda of understanding that The Hague has with the state governments of Karnataka and Telangana, and is open to startups that use technology to work on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The 2022 program will begin on February 15, 2022, and registered participants can delve into sector-specific exploration for five days before a training module for market preparation.

By March 31, the startup and entrepreneur can get fully integrated into the Netherlands market, according to the Masterclass.

To be eligible, ventures should be working towards creating high impact on society, and can be from areas like artificial intelligence, smart cities, agritech, cybersecurity, and healthtech.

“The real value we needed was scale-up," recalls Prajeet Patel, Vice President, Business Development, Radio Innovation Sweden, in the Masterclass. He is an alumnus of the Softlanding Program.

"We needed to find the key points to make sure our product is suitable for the market," he says, adding that the complete program helped his company learn about competition, pricing, and key areas of product improvement to thrive in European markets.

"It is also an excellent platform for networking, and building contacts and relationships for the future," Patel adds.

"The program leaders take inputs from each startup to make sure that we make connections with the right industry partners,” says Mohammad Samheel, CEO and Founder, Osind Medi-Tech.

“What we had in terms of a business plan for India had to be remodelled for the Netherlands and European markets and this is where these conversations with industry partners came into play. Here, we learned how the Dutch healthcare system works, how Dutch finance works,” Samheel explains.

The connections and conversations helped tap into the local value chain.


For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website. To log in to our virtual events platform and experience TechSparks 2021 with thousands of other startup-tech enthusiasts from around the world, join here.

Edited by Kunal Talgeri

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