13 January 2014
According to academics at a specialist entrepreneurship unit backed by Dublin City University, Ireland has struggled as a result of the effective collapse of its banking system in 2008-09. But perhaps more telling is how the Netherlands improved its fortunes.
The Dutch government made a concerted effort to encourage its citizens to start more businesses. It decreased burdensome regulations, improved financing options for small businesses and devoted more funding to research and development. It also created centers for education about entrepreneurship in a half-dozen universities around the country.
According to the Irish report, Dutch adults are more than twice as likely to start a new business than their Irish counterparts, even though Ireland is rated as being easier to start a business than the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is not the only European country to defy popular assumptions about the continent’s supposed lack of innovative spirit. Last year’s Global Innovation Index compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization listed seven European countries in its global top 10, including all the top four. The US trailed behind in fifth place and Hong Kong in seventh place.
The Netherlands was ranked in fourth place, behind Switzerland, Sweden and the UK. Ireland might be back in tenth place, but it’s still among the world’s leaders for innovation and entrepreneurship.