Rinke Zonneveld, Invest-NL © Holland High Tech
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With two billion euros in its coffers, Invest-NL tries to give a push to the major transitions of the moment. The energy transition and the transition to a circular economy are two appealing examples. Deep-tech initiatives (think photonics and quantum technology) should start to ensure that these necessary transitions succeed.

  • Invest-NL, with a budget of two billion euros, aims to facilitate major transitions in the Netherlands, focusing on the energy transition, circular economy, and deep-tech initiatives.
  • Smart Photonics, a company specializing in photonic chips, exemplifies the success of Invest-NL’s strategy.

“It is, therefore, crucial to keep investing in both deep-tech, the innovations with a very strong technological component, and in the energy and circular transition,” said director Rinke Zonneveld after the Holland High Tech event that took place recently. “Why? We need to work on a new earning capacity for the country and Europe. A lot of capital is needed to make these transitions possible.”

There is also a need for entrepreneurship, Zonneveld said. If this is the case, Invest-NL is ready to help, he promises. “This turnaround requires guts and vision from all parties who need to get started here. Invest-NL was established to help realize the major social transitions in the Netherlands, among other things, by investing in them. That is exactly what our resources are intended for.”

Smart Photonics

One of the companies that benefited from these resources is former Gerard & Anton Award winner Smart Photonics, a foundry for photonic chips. Director Johan Feenstra, who recently spearheaded a group of European companies that urged Brussels to invest billions in the sector, stresses the importance of his company. “We focus entirely on making photonic chips based on light instead of electrons. That’s a whole new generation of chips. We work a lot with Dutch companies, which means we have a core function in the Dutch economy for photonics.”

Smart Photonics raised 100 million euros in a recent investment round in which Invest-NL’s deep-tech fund played a role, alongside stakeholders such as ASML, NXP and VDL.

Global leading position

Zonneveld agrees: “We invested in Smart Photonics last year because we believe in this company, but also because we believe that the Netherlands has a global leading position to play in photonics. And Smart Photonics is a potential key player in that. Hence, we have invested in the company from that belief, and also expect to continue to invest in the company in the coming years.”