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COVID-19 has hit the startup ecosystems around the world hard, causing substantial job losses, severe difficulty in raising funding and an inability to bring products to market. We saw all this and more when the pandemic first hit with waves of Dutch tech companies reaching out and looking for support during this time.
To respond we surveyed over 400 companies from which we understood the need for bridge funding as well as structural incentives to reactivate VC investments. The survey data helped sizing the impact and reinforced the building of a support program with partners. This culminated in the COL (Corona Bridging Loan) program that was made available by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy providing €300Mn for bridge funding through the ROMs.
On April 29th, the COL program was officially opened for applications. The COL report gives an in-depth analysis of the applications until July 1st. The COL portal will be open for applications until October 1st, so these are the key takeaways of the interim overview. After all applications have been reviewed - somewhere later this year - Techleap.nl will publish a final data report.
1. These sectors had the highest approval rates: Hightech, Medtech and Life Sciences
When surveyed companies were classified into eleven industries: Softtech, Cleantech & Energy, Hightech systems, Medtech, Agritech & Food, Life Sciences, Logistics & Maintenance, Fintech, BioBased, Chem & Materials and others. We see a high concentration of requests in sectors that drive Dutch innovation such as Medtech, CleanTech & Energy, Hightech systems, Agritech & Food and Softtech. These sectors together represent some 85% of all applications. Furthermore, the sectors Hightech, Medtech and Life Sciences are the top 3 sectors that have the highest approval rates.
Application results per sector
2. Most applicants are situated in Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland and Noord-Brabant
The fact that the majority of the applications came from these three regions is most probably because they are the home of large innovation hubs. Based on the province in which the company was based, the applications were distributed amongst the ROMs. The ROMs with the largest number of applications were Innovatiefonds Noord-Holland with one-third of all applications, and InnovationQuarter Zuid-Holland that accounted for 20%. Following with 13% of the applications coming from innovation hub BOM (Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij) in Noord-Brabant.
Share of applicants per province
3. Scaleups get approved the most
A large part of the total of 600 businesses that have been fully approved for a COL loan are businesses that are already in the scaleup phase and/or have an investor on board, which indicates a proven innovation and a sustainable business model. Investor backed applications have an average approval rate of 53%, versus a 34% average approval rate for applications who do not have a formal investor on board. Generally, the more that has been invested in a company, the higher the approval rate.
Share of applicants per category
4. Company runways are four times shorter than normal
Lastly, almost all applications indicate that due to COVID19, runways are 4 times shorter than normal, which can be problematic for businesses that by nature don’t have much meat on the bones. The reduced runway which correlates with demonstrated lower cash positions supports the urgent implementation need ensuring these innovative businesses to be safeguarded. Applicants indicated that their normal runway pre-COVID19 was around 12 months. However, now with COVID19 in the pictures, all runways have shortened drastically to around 3 months. The future implications for the ecosystem and the resilience of it is therefore especially important when we could be looking at a missed generation of tech companies not surviving. The impact would be felt later on as potential unicorns disappear and with that the job, economic and societal contributions they make.
Average runway during COVID-19 and before COVID-19