Invest-NL fund has mostly gone to foreign companies

Only 161 million euros out of the 500 million euros spent so far by government fund Invest-NL have gone to Dutch companies –– despite the fund’s original purpose to boost innovations specifically by Dutch businesses, NRC reports. Several MPs have criticized the fund’s spending.

Invest-NL was established in 2020 and given a total budget of 1.7 billion euros. It was meant to invest in Dutch innovations in the fields of sustainability and the energy transition, especially projects that were seen as too risky by other investors. The goal was to make a social impact and support the Dutch economy.

However, much of the fund has instead gone to companies in different European countries or worldwide, according to NRC. The Ministry of Finance, Invest-NL’s sole shareholder, justified this approach by saying that all funds that receive money must commit to investing twice the amount in the Netherlands. 

“No money is leaking out, but money is being added for Dutch companies,” said a spokesperson. Further, the stipulation to support the Dutch economy with the fund was more of a “gentleman’s agreement” than a hard-and-fast rule, fund managers said.

“This is not what it was primarily intended for,” said GroenLinks MP Tom van der Lee. He criticized that the fund “demanded financial success,” instead of simply focusing on the social impact of the investment.

Critics also pointed out that several of the recently-funded projects were popular with other investors as well, which was not in the spirit of the original agreement. Invest-NL was meant to be used for riskier investments, they said.

“This raises questions,” said CDA MP Mustafa Amhaouch. “Is investing in other funds the right way to achieve the impact everyone had in mind? And do we know where exactly the money that is invested back in the Netherlands through international funds ends up? Will it land in the projects that are important for the Netherlands?”

The Tweede Kamer will reevaluate the fund in the beginning of next year. 

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