The corona crisis might have impacted the operations of businesses or they might have worked in their favour. In any case, there are various companies who want to provide support where needed. One of our newest partners, Innovation Funding, is a prime example of that. Together with founder Marcel van den Hudding and commercial manager Michael van Leeuwen, we talked about their organisation, their upcoming guest webinar, the world of subsidies and how this might be of benefit to startups.
Innovation Funding was established this year. Prior to founding the company, Marcel had already eight years of experience in the field of subsidies and had already worked with two others at a subsidy agency. However, he wanted to do something different in the market of subsidies.
Marcel: “The market of subsidies is quite a busy one. In particular, we wanted to focus on transparency, which includes focusing on which services one receives in the field of additional funding. On the basis of that, our service was split up into four modules, which the customer can either use or not use: obviously, if they do not utilise a module, they will not pay for it. Our last module, the fourth one, is unique in the sense that Innovation Funding is the only one providing it and that we pay the requested WBSO subsidy in advance. The WBSO grant works in such a way that if you were to request 60.000 euros for the first six months, you would get 10.000 euros a month from the government. From our side, we would pay the 60.000 euros in advance, which allows a company to use the financial resource as working capital for their innovation projects. As we are aware that the subsidy market is rather busy, we know what the current rates are and we believe also that we are equipped as efficiently and automatised as possible. Thus, we can provide the entire services of the four modules to our customers according to their current success fee. In that way, they still receive the full service including the advance payment, without any extra costs. So, if they would pay a success fee of 10 percent, they would still do that with our service, but they would already have money in their bank account due to us paying in advance. This basically concludes our service. In that light, we contacted DSA to see what we could do for startups, as our proposition could appeal to such companies. Next to the fact that DSA takes active part in lobbying, it is also a representative of Dutch startups which tries to aid them in the next phases of their business and we wanted to contribute to that as much as we can.”
Could you provide more details about the guest webinar which will take place on November 9th?
Michael: “With the webinar, our intention is to address the difficulty for startups with regards to requesting these types of subsidies. Even if they do not need additional funding, we can still help them further along by showing that there are more types of additional funding besides the WBSO grant. Additionally, a lot of new roads will open once a company requests the WBSO subsidy, which is also something we want to highlight to startups. For example, if a company is considering international expansion, what kind of subsidy regulations will apply to that matter? Or if they are considering introducing a training program within their organisation, that they can apply for particular subsidies, which is something most companies are not aware of. Right now, the only barrier which is preventing people from requesting subsidies is that they fear that if they would switch to another consulting company, their request would not be accepted. However, just like any energy supplier delivers the same type of electricity and gas, we also have consultants at our disposal, who successfully complete 98 percent of the requests. We can also see beforehand on the basis of a certain project whether a request will be accepted by the RVO (EN: Netherlands Enterprise Agency). Innovation Funding maintains a good relationship with them and in this way, we want to lower the threshold of choosing another consultant. We will always provide advice based on our perspective, but sometimes it is the case that the customer thinks they know better or that they have hope that their project will be successful. In that case, our company tries to guide them either way and attempts to ensure that the project becomes eligible for additional funding. In the end, we will always try our best to advise our customers as best as possible.”
What does the headliner of the webinar, “How to get extra funding without taking extra risks” exactly entail?
Marcel: “The headliner is based on the fact that there are certain interests tied to the fundings from an investor, a bank or any other financial institution, or possible shareholders within an organisation. However, if you need a sum of money directly, we can directly transfer, for example, the WBSO grant in your advance. Taking our example of the 60.000 euros: if parties currently pay a 10 percent success fee for it, then they would do the same to us, except they receive all modules which their current parties do not offer, which also includes the advance payment. Thus, they would get 60.000 euros as advance payment for the same success fee rate, which refers to the ‘without extra costs’ part. It all depends on your company: what is your product or service offering? What does your project look like and what is its size? What will be your own contributions to those projects? Based on this, we will create a fitting proposal for you, which will never be more expensive than the current one they have. With our proposal, we also include the advance payment. Hence, they get extra funding without extra cost.”
What are your future plans, asides from contributing to the startups of tomorrow and transparency in the market?
Marcel: “Our goal is to break open the market, which sounds severe, but what we mean by that is that we want to make it more transparent. Right now, the market is not as clear as we want it to be due to the fact that there is unclarity regarding extra costs and such. We, as a company, want to change that perception and bring innovation to a higher level through giving advance payments, which allows businesses to realise their projects. With that proposition in mind, we believe that in a few years from now, Innovation Funding will be the market leader in the field of the WBSO grant. What strikes us right now is that a lot of these subsidy requests are disposed and therefore dismissed, or that parties ought to write their own requests. With the latter, we also notice that no one provides any aid with these requests, such as how to improve those or how to get the most out of them in order to create extra growth for the company. However, asides from this, I think that Innovation Funding can contribute strongly, in the sense that we add value to this process. Once a company receives WBSO funding, we will look with them together on how to get the most out of this. For example, if they were to expand internationally, what kind of subsidy procedures would they encounter? What kind of regulations apply to them when they, for example, launch a new product or service? And what can Innovation Funding do for you in that process? Accordingly, we look into our own network to see how they can provide any help. We have noticed that people think it is crucial that if they receive additional funding, that the one providing it has the same vision and is also like-minded. Thus, by looking at our own network, we can possibly pair companies with the right people and in that way, bring the levels of innovation to a higher standard. To be concise, we are not just a consultant agency, but we also think along in the subsidy process as to foster the company’s growth. We actually want to help people in the next phase of their business and we believe that we will leave a mark with our service in The Netherlands.”
Michael: “My vision is that I want to ensure that for entrepreneurs, who already make use of the WBSO grant or any other additional funding, that making a switch to another party is not an inconvenient matter. I want to lessen the fear of customers thinking that their requests will not be accepted, because if their previous ones were accepted, then so will their future ones. And it will stay that way, because based on previous requests and the expertise without our organisation. My aim is to make this crystal clear, as well as our guiding role in these processes.”
Are you now even more curious about the procedures of alternative funding, grants and (governmental) support? Then do not forget to attend the guest webinar with Innovation Funding, which will take place on Monday, November 9th from 16.00 – 17.00h. For more details, see here.
About Marcel and Michael:
Marcel van den Hudding established Innovation Funding in 2020, with the intention to make the subsidy market more transparent and accessible for businesses. Michael van Leeuwen, consultant and commercial manager, aims to create a world in which entrepreneurs can access subsidy funds quickly and without hassle.