Blog Entry | 02-09-2022 | BZ members worldwide
Texas and California are the largest states in the United States by population and size of economy. Important states for USA and Netherlands. The United States is the Netherlands’ most important trading partner outside the EU, with Texas and California leading the list.
The Netherlands and California know each other well, Dirk observes. ‘Many Dutch companies and start-ups operate in California. Also, nearly a million Californians are of Dutch descent, you’ll find museums with extensive Dutch collections, and you can pursue a course in Dutch studies at the university. And together with California we are leading the world in LGBTIQ+ rights.’
In Texas, a quarter of a million people have a Dutch background and Dutch companies and knowledge institutions operate in various sectors such as energy and coastal protection. The Netherlands and Texas have a long history in the defense industry. ‘For example, the Dutch Air Force has trained at Fort Hood for over 26 years, including flying Chinook helicopters,’ says Ruth.
Ruth: ‘The Netherlands and the US are partners for a future resource world. We work together on climate, safety and health’
Under the direction of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Liesje Schreinmacher, Queen Máxima will visit San Francisco and Silicon Valley in California. In Texas, the delegation travels to Houston and Austin. In parallel with the working visit, a group of CEOs will travel from VNO-NCW and nearly a hundred Dutch companies interested in California to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The consuls general say the four-day visit underscores the importance of a good relationship. Turk: ‘We celebrate the good relations between the Netherlands and the United States. Transatlantic cooperation is essential to maintaining security and prosperity in both the United States and the Netherlands. This strong relationship provides opportunities to work together, Ruth adds. ‘We need each other as partners for a future resource world. For example, by working together on climate, security and health.’
Dirk says Queen Maxima’s presence also opens doors that wouldn’t normally open so easily. ‘Governors and CEOs of major American corporations come to San Francisco as the Queen of the Netherlands visits.’ Ruth nods in agreement. ‘We are jointly developing a plan to bring together the relevant parties in preparation for success. Such a system could be an important starting point or a catalyst for further collaboration.’
Dirk: ‘In Los Angeles, Dutch companies are working on bike lanes. We’ve been doing this in the Netherlands for decades, which means we have a lot to offer’.
Dutch picking robots, storm surge barriers and cycle paths
According to the Consul General, there are plenty of opportunities for Dutch companies and knowledge institutions. From collaboration in water, renewable energy and technology in Texas to innovation in healthcare, mobility and agriculture in California. Dirk cites the agriculture and horticulture sector as an example. ‘We have been working with California fruit growers for many years. They are experimenting with picking up robots using Dutch technology.’
And in Texas, increasingly ravaged by hurricanes and major floods, there is interest in the Netherlands’ specific knowledge, Ruth says. ‘Sea level rise and severe storms are having a major impact on cities along the Texas coast. Texas is now working on major projects to strengthen the coast, for example building a storm surge barrier inspired by Dutch models.’
In the field of cycling, the Netherlands has a lot of knowledge to share. Many American cities now focus on the convenience of the car, but want it to be different. Like in Austin for example. Thanks to knowledge exchange and cooperation with the Netherlands, the city has become more bicycle-friendly. Dirk recognizes this as well. ‘In Los Angeles, Dutch companies are working on building bicycle lanes. We’ve been doing this for decades in the Netherlands, which means we have a lot to offer.’
Technology and startups
California and Texas are important states when it comes to technology and innovation. For example, California is a leader in wearable medical technology, smartwatches and digital healthcare. In Texas you can find a huge semiconductor industry, which produces computer chips.
Also, there are many opportunities for Dutch startups in Silicon Valley, the technology capital of the world. ‘A startup with ambitions to become a global player can’t really ignore Silicon Valley,’ says Dirk. “With the presence of major universities and widespread investment capital, Silicon Valley has one of the best technology ecosystems in the world.” The consulate in California offers additional support to startups, for example via ScaleNL program.
American companies also know how to move to the Netherlands, Dirk observes. ‘Many big companies like Nike, Netflix, Uber and Zoom have their European headquarters in the Netherlands.’ Texan companies such as Dell, HP and Exxon have also invested heavily in the Netherlands. The Consul General also wants to draw attention to the attractiveness of the Netherlands during this visit. ‘We are centrally located and well connected to the rest of the continent. The standard of living is high, people are more educated and generally speak good English.’
Dutch representations support entrepreneurs wishing to enter the US market throughout the year. So this work visit is not an isolated activity, Ruth insists. ‘Travel responds to important themes such as climate and health, opportunities for which we have mapped.’
The Consul General did not do this alone. “We are working closely with the embassy in Washington, other consulates-general and honorary embassies. We have Netherlands Business Support Offices (NBSO) in Texas and California, which help entrepreneurs who do not have an embassy or consulate,” says Dirk. According to Ruth, NBSOs and honorary embassies Local networks have a significant added value. ‘We really work together as a team. Together we see what we can do for each other and especially for entrepreneurs.
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