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The growth of the Dutch tech sector has stagnated over the past year. Our country is losing pace compared to the US, UK and Asia. A crucial bottleneck is the lack of diversity. This is according to Techleap’s State of Dutch Tech report.

Why you need to know this:

Every year, Techleap comes out with a report on the Dutch tech sector. This shows what we do well and what we do not do well. We can draw lessons from this, to improve the sector.

The struggle for diversity in the Dutch tech world is not just a social justice issue, but is increasingly seen as a strategic necessity for innovation and growth. Startups with a diverse team of founders produce a richer variety of ideas and products, which is essential in a rapidly evolving market. The report states that increasing the share of female founders and the number of spin-offs from Dutch universities and research institutes could lead to a 35-45% increase in the number of new startups by 2030.

The impact of gender diversity

The good news: the Dutch tech sector attracts more international talent than most other sectors. At the same time, the ecosystem lacks gender diversity. The figures speak volumes: female (co)founders are severely underrepresented in the Dutch tech sector. With only 10% of founders being women, the Netherlands lags behind countries such as Germany, Sweden and the UK.

This gender gap not only affects funding, but also extends to other areas. A large number of Dutch startups have never tracked gender diversity in key business processes such as hiring, interviews and promotions. This lack of awareness and accountability may contribute to the persistence of industry imbalances.

Regional diversity as a strength

At the same time, the report shows that regional diversity matters. The Netherlands has a unique advantage with its many specialised ecosystems that, through collaboration and national initiatives such as the BOLD community and the Dutch Startup Association, function as one cohesive system. This provides opportunities for startups to learn from different hubs and contributes to a stronger national tech sector.

This connectedness is crucial for the Dutch tech landscape, which for several years has been among the top three where it is difficult to fill tech jobs. Attracting and developing talent from home and abroad is therefore a priority to accelerate startup growth and improve competitiveness.

Untapped potential

The current state of deep tech in the Netherlands shows that there is untapped potential in terms of technological independence and societal transitions. A more diverse group of founders can lead to a wider range of startups, which in turn can provide the necessary technological breakthroughs.

To turn the tide, a culture change is needed. Tech companies and investors need to embrace diversity and inclusion as core values and implement policies that support these values. More data collection and effective diversity and inclusion policies are essential to close the gap.

The report highlights the need for companies and investors to look beyond traditional recruitment methods and recognise the potential of women entrepreneurs and regional hubs.