Mission to India: 'Let's continue joining forces'

Triple Helix collaboration to promote exchange between The Netherlands and India.

Large role for education and Holland Alumni during India trade mission.
Posted by Jeroen Langelaar

With a population of 1.3 billion, a tech-savvy young workforce, and a rapidly growing economy, India presents ample opportunities for Dutch educational institutions and businesses. During a recent Dutch trade mission to India (13-18 October) participants got the chance to meet with their Indian peers in order to kick-start a Triple Helix collaboration, and promote the exchange of knowledge and business between the two countries. To connect Dutch companies with local Indian workers, a business mixer was organised by NLinBusiness together with Neso India and Nuffic’s Holland Alumni Network. Three participants of the trade mission speak about the accomplishments and their hopes for the future.

‘For a sustainable partnership with India, we need to invest in superior education and research’

Pieter Duisenberg, Director, The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU)

“The Buijink Commission report (April 2017) argued in favour of a more integrated approach to foreign missions. The India mission was the first time this new policy was put into practice, which meant Dutch educational institutions were much more involved from the start. This way The Netherlands presents itself as ‘Team The Netherlands’, as the Buijink Commission report called it, with education, business and government representing the country together.”

“I welcome this approach and the mission results prove it worked. Together with Indian NGO’s, entrepreneurs, scientists, and government representatives at the India Netherlands Tech Summit, we agreed upon the creation of a ten-year Dutch-Indian Agenda on Water, Agriculture and Health. We will present this agenda next year during the UN Climate Adaptation Summit in Amsterdam.”

“It is also important to emphasize that there is still a world to gain when it comes to involving educational institutions in missions abroad. That starts with simple things like the name ‘trade mission’, which excludes the knowledge sector and does not contribute in presenting our country as a knowledge-intensive society.”

“India has a population of 1.3 billion and harbours enormous opportunities for The Netherlands. But we have to realise that there are 55 other missions to India this year, from other countries. This means that if The Netherlands really wants to build a sustainable partnership with India in the coming decades, we need to ensure that we seriously invest in superior education and research at home. The Netherlands has a great reputation in India, because they have good experiences in collaborating with the Dutch, and they know very well our universities are among the world’s best. But we cannot take this for granted. We need to keep investing in top-notch education and research.”

Read Pieter's blog about the India mission

'There is an enormous energy and willingness in The Netherlands to do business in India.'

Flin Veenstra, Business Analyst, NLinBusiness

NLinBusiness is a not-for-profit organisation that supports Dutch companies that are looking to do business abroad. Our focus is on helping companies through their entire customer journey: from inspiration to a successful market entrance. We provide these entrepreneurs with workshops, trainings and seminars, but also with a soft landing in foreign markets via our international hubs. We bring them in touch with valuable partners in the Netherlands and abroad, including Nuffic’s Holland Alumni Network.”

“One of the main problems Dutch companies face abroad, is finding reliable business service providers and quality local employees. The Holland Alumni Network is extremely helpful in this regard. During the business mixer, which we organised together with Nuffic and Neso India, we brought together 150 Dutch entrepreneurs and about 40 Indian Holland Alumni, who went on to become advisors, lawyers and jurists, among others. We also involved Indian and Dutch business services providers. Because of this event, a Dutch entrepreneur found a new accountant who could help him with the mandatory yearly audits in India. Another businessman got together with a Holland Alumnus because they both operate in the container export industry. The event led to countless opportunities for future collaborations.”

“It was the first time we involved Nuffic’s Holland Alumni Network in a business mixer, but it will definitely not be the last. Dutch companies abroad are craving for local employees or local partners with experience in Holland and the Holland Alumni Network provides that. Together with our international hubs, we will continue collaborating with Nuffic in business mixers and career fairs in different countries.”

“To be successful in India, we need more than just one trade mission. There is an enormous energy and willingness in The Netherlands to do business in India. NLinBusiness strongly believes Dutch companies, government and educational institutions should continue to join forces going forward.”

'It became so abundantly clear to me that the Netherlands has the knowledge to really make a difference in India.'

Jelle Ferwerda, University of Twente, Faculty of Engineering Technology

“What struck me during the mission were the similarities between the challenges both India and The Netherlands face – or have faced. Particularly when it comes to water and transport. It became so abundantly clear to me that the Netherlands has the knowledge to really make a difference here. India is facing the same questions and challenges when it comes to water management as The Netherlands some decades ago. I believe we have a lot to contribute on the intersection of rivers, floodings, transport, safety, and people’s livelihood. I think this message really resounded with our Indian allies. By the same token, India is an inspiration to us when it comes to tech innovation. They are very keen in finding low-cost technological solutions that also work in less-developed regions. I think both countries have a lot to learn from each other.”

“The goal of this trip was to build upon the Triple Helix collaboration. As a university, we welcome countless of students from India each year. We put a lot of time and effort in keeping in touch with them, because with its growing economy and large population, India presents us with a lot of opportunities. We are looking for collaborations with local companies, universities and governments to enhance mobility between our two countries. This comes with challenges, because we are no Germany or China that can take up hundreds of PhD students at one time. We have to find our own niche.”

“I think the mission to India succeeded in giving the knowledge sector its due respect. We had large multinationals underlining in speeches the important role and education and research in building sustainable collaborations, so we are definitely making progress there. For the future I think it is important for Dutch educational institutions and other stakeholders to continue working together, in order to present The Netherlands as a knowledge and innovation intensive society.”

What Nuffic Neso can do for you

Is your institution looking for opportunities abroad? Get in touch with Nuffic’s international offices (Neso’s).

Would you like to know more about Neso India? In Nuffic’s podcast series Our People Abroad, Anwesha Majumder, Chief Representative of Neso India, talks with journalist Mike Cooper about ‘the beautiful chaos India has to offer’.

Podcast Our People Abroad: Neso India