Blog post | 02-09-2022 | BZ members worldwide
Texas and California are the largest states in the United States in terms of population and size of economy. Important states for America, but also for the Netherlands. The US 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 are active in California. In addition, approximately one million Californians are of Dutch descent, you’ll find museums with extensive Dutch collections, and you can even take a course in Dutch studies at university. And together with California, we are a world leader in LGBTIQ+ rights.’
In Texas, a quarter of a million inhabitants also have a Dutch background, and Dutch companies and knowledge institutions are active in various sectors, such as energy and coastal protection. The Netherlands and Texas also have a long history in security. ‘For example, the Dutch Air Force has received training at Fort Hood for more than 26 years, including flying Chinook helicopters,’ says Ruth.
Ruth: ‘The Netherlands and the USA are partners for a future-proof world. We work together on climate, safety and health’
Under the guidance of Minister Liesje Schreinemacher from Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Queen Máxima visits San Francisco and Silicon Valley in California. In Texas, the delegation visits Houston and Austin. In parallel with the working visit, a CEO delegation will travel from VNO-NCW and almost a hundred Dutch companies with an interest in California will visit San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The four-day visit emphasizes the importance of a good relationship, says the consul general. Dirk: ‘We celebrate the good relationship between the Netherlands and the USA. Transatlantic cooperation is also essential to maintain security and prosperity in both the United States and the Netherlands.’ This strong relationship provides opportunities to work together, adds Ruth. ‘We need each other as partners for a future-proof world. For example, by working together in climate, safety and health.’
Queen Máxima’s presence also opens doors that normally don’t open so easily, says Dirk. ‘The governor and CEOs of major American companies are coming to San Francisco because the Dutch queen is visiting.’ Ruth nods in agreement. ‘In preparation for the visit, we jointly develop a program where we bring relevant parties together. Such a framework can be an important starting point, or give a boost to further cooperation.’
Dirk: ‘In Los Angeles, Dutch companies are working to build cycle paths. We have been working on this for decades in the Netherlands, which means we have a lot to offer’
Dutch picking robots, storm surge barriers and cycle paths
According to the consuls general, there are plenty of opportunities for Dutch companies and knowledge institutions. From collaborations in water, renewable energy and technology in Texas to innovation in healthcare, mobility and agriculture in California. Dirk cites the agricultural and horticultural sector as an example. ‘We have been working with California fruit growers for years. They use Dutch technology to experiment with picking robots.’
Also in Texas, which is increasingly ravaged by hurricanes and heavy floods, there is interest in specific knowledge about the Netherlands, says Ruth. “Sea level rise and violent storms are having a huge impact on cities on the Texas coast. Texas is now working on major projects to strengthen the coastline, for example by building a storm surge barrier, inspired by Dutch models.’
In cycling mobility, the Netherlands also has a lot of knowledge to share. ‘Many American cities are now focused on the convenience of a car, but want it to be different. Like in Austin for example. The city has become much more bicycle-friendly, partly because of knowledge exchange and cooperation with the Netherlands.’ Dirk recognizes that too. ‘In Los Angeles, Dutch companies are working to build cycle paths. In the Netherlands we have been working on this for decades, which means we have a lot to offer.’
Tech and startups
California and Texas are important states when it comes to technology and innovation. California, for example, is at the forefront of wearable medical technology, such as smartwatches and digital health care. And in Texas you will find a huge semiconductor industry, such as produces computer chips.
Furthermore, there are many opportunities for Dutch startups in the technology capital of the world, Silicon Valley. “A startup with the ambition to become a global player cannot really ignore Silicon Valley,” says Dirk. “Because of the presence of important universities and the wide availability of investment capital, Silicon Valley has the best technological ecosystem in the world.” The Consulate General in California therefore offers extra support to startups, for example through the ScaleNL program.
American companies also know how to find their way to the Netherlands, Dirk observes. ‘Many large companies, such as 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 consuls general also want to draw attention to the attractiveness of the Netherlands during this visit. ‘We are centrally located and have good connections to the rest of the continent. The quality of life is high, the population is highly educated and generally speaks good English.’
The Dutch representations support entrepreneurs who want to enter the American market all year round. This work visit is therefore not an isolated activity, emphasizes Ruth. ‘The visit is based on important themes such as climate and health and the opportunities we have mapped out for this.’
The consuls general do not do this alone. “We work closely with the embassy in Washington, the other consulates general and honorary consuls. In Texas and California we also have Holland Business Support Offices (NBSO), which can help entrepreneurs where there is no embassy or consulate,” says Dirk. According to Ruth, the local network of the NBSOs and Honorary Consuls has a significant added value. ‘We really work together as one team. Together we look at what we can do for each other and especially for the entrepreneurs.’