Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the opening of the TQ tech hub in Amsterdam
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me here to officially open TQ.
It's not the first startup hub I've visited, and it probably won't be the last. Creative spaces like this are springing up like mushrooms all over the Netherlands.
A trend I warmly welcome. What's more, TQ is filling a crucial gap in the market: the space between brand-new startups and medium-sized companies that might just be the next unicorn.
So how do you bridge that gap? How do you survive the 'trough of sorrow', as you yourselves poetically describe it?
Well, you do it by working in partnership.
By building on each other's ideas.
By avoiding the temptation to go it alone and reinvent the wheel.
And that's precisely the collaborative approach you plan to take here at TQ.
In recent years I've spent a lot of time meeting driven people like you. And I never get tired of it.
Encounters like these give me new energy, inspiration and confidence in the future.
You are people with a plan and a work ethic, with ambition, and the will to change society.
You're also people who dare to think big.
Who dare to think differently.
Today I met Wendy Bogers from Ligo ? one of the startups linked to TQ. She began her career in a traditional law firm and quickly decided she could make things a lot simpler.
While many lawyers were resisting the rise of technology, she rightly saw the logic in bringing digital advances to the legal profession.
Her company Ligo helps businesses and entrepreneurs arrange their legal affairs online, in an easy and affordable way.
It's a typical example of a service you can't believe doesn't exist already. 'Why did no one think of this before?'
And it's often the simplest ideas that work best.
Wendy, meanwhile, is delighted with her career switch.
She's created a service that adds value, makes customers happy and helps businesses grow.
It's great that the Netherlands is becoming even more enterprising.
And startups are giving the trend a fresh boost.
Compared with a few years ago, starting your own business is now a realistic option, whether you're a teenager or approaching retirement.
The Netherlands is also becoming the place to be for international startups.
Which explains why we're at number one on the European Startup Nation Scoreboard.
Amsterdam is now the third-most-popular city in Europe in which to launch a startup.
And the Netherlands has the third-fastest-growing startup community in Europe.
With success stories like Booking.com, Adyen Payment Services and Takeaway.com, we're showing exactly what Dutch startups can achieve.
All this is great news.
But we also need to make sure the Netherlands becomes the place where startups grow big.
To do that, we need to think bigger and look beyond our borders. In global terms we're only a small dot on the map.
It's crucial for Europe to join forces and take the next step in the digital revolution.
The Netherlands pressed hard for that during our recent EU Presidency. In the digital domain more than anywhere else, legislation in individual member states creates too many obstacles to cross-border enterprise. The digital revolution will bring jobs and prosperity, but above all it will help us keep pace with the global competition.
That's why Europe needs to unite in removing those obstacles.
Because, as I've said, we need to make the Netherlands the place where startups grow big.
That's not only my ambition, it's TQ's ambition too.
You're bringing together talent, opportunities and partners to create the right conditions for scaling up.
I read that your managing director, Robert Gaal ? an entrepreneur and hacker himself since the age of nine ? gets annoyed when Dutch startups launch with only a 'dot-nl' web domain.
I hope that his 'dot-com' mentality proves infectious for the startups based here.
If it does, I'm sure TQ will succeed.
Another of Robert's convictions ? which I share ? is that no one is an island.
In my own work I'm reminded every day that I don't know everything.
But fortunately I'm surrounded by a lot of smart people.
So I can always grab my phone and ask for advice.
So make use of all the fantastic opportunities that TQ can offer.
Share your knowledge and learn from each other.
For me, what makes the Netherlands unique is the amount of creativity we have in such a small area.
The same goes for Amsterdam, of course.
But in fact the entire Randstad area is bursting with initiatives.
And only an hour's drive away you can be in the heart of Brainport Eindhoven or Food Valley in Wageningen.
The Netherlands can compete with any metropolis when it comes to accessibility, standard of living, and the availability of highly skilled and innovative talent.
I hope that you too will make the most of the opportunities, and not retreat to your islands.
There is so much knowledge within reach here.
So broaden your horizons beyond this region and embrace everything the Netherlands has to offer.
Let TQ serve as a hothouse environment, where people come together and inspire each other, from the lone creative to the major corporation. Give us your simple but brilliant ideas.
The ones other people don't think of because they can't see beyond today's world.
Let this amazing view of Amsterdam inspire your dreams of a limitless horizon.