This additional funding gives an extra boost to regional initiatives and projects that strengthen SMEs. Foodvalley Region submitted the SME deal in cooperation with a large number of parties from the business and education sectors in the region.
With the SME deal, Foodvalley Region focuses on making the regional initiatives more sustainable, stronger and more connected. The strength of the region lies in connecting experience, knowledge and innovation. An example of a local initiative is NEON, a network for and by agrifood entrepreneurs that originated in Ede. The SME deal means Foodvalley Region can broaden the NEON network regionally, allowing for greater effectiveness.
The corona crisis has had a considerable impact on business and has, for example, made it clear how dependent Dutch SMEs are on other countries. As a result, some production processes have come to a standstill. By shortening the chains, local entrepreneurs are supported and companies can use fewer raw materials. The Living Lab project Circular Foodvalley Region will use the extra funds to set up innovative chain projects. Ideas that already exist will be converted into business cases and concrete project proposals.
The SME deal connects and strengthens human capital initiatives in the region. The cooperation is strengthened by the joint approach aimed at certain target groups, such as school leavers and people from other sectors, effective referral to the various initiatives and a clear proposition for SME entrepreneurs. Clear communication about the various initiatives helps reach a wider group of entrepreneurs. This concerns the regional SME initiatives: Barneveld Tomorrow, Food Academy Nijkerk, Living Lab Digitalisering, Barneveldse Techniek Opleiding and ICT Campus.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs contributes over €7 million to regional SME projects of provinces and municipalities: the so-called SME deals. The allocation of support is divided into two rounds. This second round amounts to some €4.5 million. The SME deals are a boost for the broader SME sector. They further enable companies to innovate, digitise and conduct international business and to better meet their personnel challenges. The ministry's investment stems from the SME Action Plan presented by State Secretary Mona Keijzer in 2018.
For more information about Foodvalley Region projects see www.regiofoodvalley.nl/mkbdeal (in Dutch)