New Honorary Consul General in Amsterdam
Mr. Nils van Dijkman has been appointed as the Honorary Consul General of Sweden in Amsterdam as of June 3, 2020.Nils van Dijkman is partner in the employment law practice of HEUSSEN Attorneys and Civil law notaries in Amsterdam, where he heads the Sweden Desk. He has extensive experience in advising on various employment law matters and is listed in the prestigious Legal500 as a recommended employment lawyer in the Netherlands. Nils is fluent in Dutch, English and Swedish (native), and with his Dutch and Swedish background he will be an excellent promotor for the Swedish-Dutch business community in the Amsterdam region. In his professional role, he advises both Dutch and international companies, with an emphasis on Swedish companies. He served as Chairman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the Netherlands 2007–2015. In 2015 he was awarded the title of Honorary Member of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce as a recognition of his work. Nils van Dijkman succeeds Edgar Peer, who has been Sweden’s Honorary Consul General in Amsterdam since 1998. Source: The Swedish Embassy for the Netherlands https://bit.ly/30Iagns The Swedish Chamber of Commerce is very pleased to congratulate Nils van Dijkman to his appointment and contacted him for a reaction: What are your tasks and ambitions as the new Honorary Consul General of Sweden in Amsterdam? "My role is to represent Sweden in The Netherlands, specifically in Amsterdam that I am responsible for. It is important to not only represent Sweden as a country but represent the Swedish values. I also promote Swedish Business in the Netherlands, including trade for example trade missions or Swedish companies interested in the Dutch market. The tasks also include providing information to Swedish citizens in the Netherlands in case of emergencies etc. I am the link in between individuals and the Swedish Embassy in The Hague, so in any specific consular matters I refer to the Swedish Embassy. Another part is to assist Swedish businesses to connecting to Dutch organizations, government, or communities etc. For me, having been the Chairman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for The Netherlands, between 2007-2015 it is a great opportunity to continue to promote Sweden and I am now looking forward to continuing to develop this in my new role". How would you describe the collaboration between Sweden and the Netherlands today? "I think the collaboration is closer than ever. The Netherlands was the first country where Sweden had an Embassy more than 400 years ago, so the Netherlands has been an important country for Sweden since centuries. With the current situation with Brexit, Sweden and the Netherlands has become even closer diplomatically. I also see an increased interest in business and many other areas". As a member and Patron of the Swedish Chamber what collaboration possibilities do you see in your new role? "I always supported the Swedish Chamber as a Chairman an Honorary Member and still today after I resigned as a Chairman, my law firm HEUSSEN is supporting the Swedish Chamber as a Patron member. I think the combination of being a Patron member and supporting the Chamber with contacts will help me as the Honorary Consul General to make this link even stronger. I look forward working with the Swedish Chamber as both a Patron and as Honorary Consul. I will use every opportunity to strengthen the ties and reach the common goals and I am looking forward to continuing to participate in the Chamber’s Events as much as possible".
REFLECTIONS BY THE DUTCH AMBASSADOR H.E. INES COPPOOLSE, ON THE RELATIONS BETWEEN SWEDEN AND THE NETHERLANDS
Dear members of the Swedish Chamber in the Netherlands and the Dutch Chamber in Sweden, Swedes and Dutch are made for each other. That was the title for the webinar early June, organized by the Chambers of both countries. A very appropriate title, which also reflects the title of the book that was published during our 400 years of friendship. Sweden and the Netherlands decided to exchange resident ambassadors in 1614, so my Swedish counterpart Annika and I are honoured to be part of a very long list of ambassadors for our countries. In the past 5 years, I have had the privilege and pleasure to work with Håkan Emsgård, with Per Holmström and since 2 years with Annika Markovic. Annika being the first female Swedish ambassador to the Netherlands and I was the first female Dutch ambassador to Sweden. Now that both Chambers are also chaired by 2 women, Kerstin Gerlagh in Amsterdam and Els Berkers in Stockholm, I feel that things have really changed. For the good! My departure from Sweden is imminent, so it is the right time to share my reflections with you, members of both chambers. You have all done your bit to shape this bilateral relationship and I hope you will keep contributing. I have three words or labels to describe our relationship: like-mindedness, partnership and inspiration. These words more or less cover the past 400+ years, but I am convinced they will keep their relevance in the many years to come. Allow me to explain those three words, to start with like-mindedness. We share the same values, whether it’s folkhemmet or poldermodel, we are both appreciative of openness, transparency. Journalists can write what they like, and we are all at ease with criticizing our governments or CEO’s. We don’t like to flaunt our wealth, but prefer a more egalitarian society. Whether you call it ‘lagom’ or ‘doe maar gewoon dat is al gek genoeg’, to me it’s the same sort of modesty as a virtue. We feel that sharing is key, which is why we are both great advocates of the Sustainable Development Goals and why we feel that helping other countries is the right thing to do. To Dutch and Swedes, a deal is a deal, and rules are there to obey. Especially international rules, as enshrined in international laws and treaties. Maybe it is a socio-cultural mentality, or maybe it is simply because our economies and societies depend on a level playing field. We don’t feel very comfortable with powerplay, although our economic situations do give us some leverage. At the same time, we would like to spend our money wisely. You don’t spend what you don’t have, and you try to keep your financial house in order. All of the above have created a strong fabric of likemindedness that will last for a long time. Regarding partnership, there have always been successful ways of cooperating. Whether in business (Akzo-Nobel, Nuon/Vattenfall) or in military missions (mixed crew during the operation Atalanta on board of the Dutch ship Johan de Witt, helping each other in Mali), Sweden and the Netherlands find it easy to cooperate. Not because we áre the same, but because we share the same values and then take a slightly different approach in getting things done. We both believe in hard work, and cherish a market economy. Our societies are built on slightly different economic foundations (services/logistics vs industry/mining), but have the same goals: international markets, export driven companies, importance of innovation, digitization and the need for a more sustainable and green transition. Working together on those issues is a necessity, but certainly also a pleasure. Inspiration has been the consequence of our differences. Swedes tend to be a bit more careful and mindful of the group opinion. The Dutch can be somewhat more boisterous and tend to speak out without checking or consulting. Both characteristics have their disadvantages and advantages, but mixing them together results very often in inspirational projects or partnerships. The Dutch can learn from the way Swedes take pride in preparing. The Swedes can learn from the Dutch that provocation is not always a bad thing but could trigger something useful. So, with that as an introduction, I have looked at the various levels where Sweden and the Netherlands have cooperated in the past 5 years. Where are we on the same page, and will we keep it that way in the years to come? Where did we differ and are we going to solve those differences? Let’s take 5 levels to inventorize: within the UN, within the EU, on security, on the economy and within society. Within the UN, we have intensified. Our shared year within the UN Security Council in 2018 laid the foundation for countless G2G contacts. We have pushed and pulled together, and this has resulted in a stronger group of the so-called Elected Ten. Hopefully with long-term results. With our common push for the SDG’s and for the climate emergency, we managed to get more international attention. Sweden has put extra emphasis on the importance of women (no sustainable peace agreements feasible if women were not included at the negotiation table), the Netherlands has put extra emphasis on justice (accountability, peaceful settlement of disputes). Combining forces helped in agenda-setting and I am convinced that both countries will keep pushing together where we can in the years ahead. We differ with our approach to development cooperation. We share the same goals, but where Sweden has an independent agency (SIDA) that has projects in many countries around the globe, the Netherlands has merged development cooperation with foreign trade and has focused on fewer countries as partner countries. However, we both are strong supporters of UN organizations and one of the few that give core-funding rather than seeking out specific programs. On the EU, I observe a significant intensification as well. Of course, the Brexit was a (unwelcome) trigger. But Sweden and the Netherlands have grown as fierce supporters for a strong internal market, with the 4 freedoms as its pillar. Our push for an innovative and greener budget for the next 7 years, a budget that represents the fact that we have now 27 countries instead of 28, has resulted in the group of so-called ‘frugal 4’. Not something that we wanted to create, because both Sweden and the Netherlands depend on as many partnerships and coalitions as possible. But on the budget, we are on exactly the same page. Also, rule of law (or better formulated, the importance of upholding rule of law) has emerged as an issue where we stand strongly together. When I arrived in Sweden in August 2015, it was the start of the Luxemburg EU presidency. I had to take care of that, because Luxemburg does not have an embassy in Stockholm. After that, it was the Dutch who took the EU presidency and my team and I have tried to give maximum visibility to our priorities here in Sweden. Where Sweden and the Netherlands differ, is on the currency. We would be very pleased if Sweden would join the Banking Union and ultimately the Euro, but as an ambassador I have had very limited leverage on these issues :-( However, it is good to realize that – unlike Denmark – Sweden does not have an opt-out. So at some point, the SEK will have to be SEKrified. I am convinced though that we can work together to create the circumstances within the EU in such a way that joining the common currency will become an economically attractive proposition for Sweden. On security I can be short. I already pointed out to the numerous missions we have done together, not to mention the joint exercises we have done in these past 5 years. Sweden’s political choice for non-military alignment is different from the Dutch firm commitment to NATO. However, Sweden has developed into one of the most active NATO-partners, which offers a good platform for future bilateral cooperation as well. The follow-up of the first Swedish-Dutch Defence, Security and Aeronautics Innovation Day that Annika organized last year, was meant to be hosted by me on the 14th of May this year. Much to my regret, the covid-19 came in between. I hope my successor will soon be able to go ahead with what we had prepared. Economically, we have grown in the past 5 years. In partnership with the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, we have created a position for a Business Development Officer in Göteborg who works closely with the economic clusters at the Dutch Embassies in the Nordic Baltic Region. This position followed after a successful evaluation of the Regional Business Developer, stationed at Copenhagen, who has consistently informed business sectors in the Netherlands on opportunities in this region. I have seen the interest for the stable Swedish market grow in the Netherlands, and I note an increased presence particularly in the construction sector, the infrastructure market and the health sector. Also, there is a growing interest in Sweden for the Dutch expertise on circular economy. My colleagues at the embassy have worked hard and I am proud of the results that were achieved. Very often, we were able to work together with the Dutch chamber in the many events and seminars we have organized. However, there is still room for growth in trade volumes. Also, it is my wish to get more Swedish companies interested in the circular model – if possible in partnerships with Dutch companies. I want to mention one exciting initiative: we are going to open a Dutch Innovation House in the embassy. It aims to facilitate innovative solutions for challenges in the area of climate change, health care, mobility, food security and energy. We want to bring people together from the business sector, students, academics and literally offer them facilities to work on common projects and seminars. To be continued! Last but not least, our societies. I have witnessed an increase in the number of visits from the Netherlands to Sweden and vice versa. Whether they were commercial missions, NGO’s, governance sector, scientists or simply tourists; there is a growing interest and mutual curiosity. And still so much more to discover, and learn from each other! In conclusion: A relationship based on likemindedness, partnership and inspiration is easy and pleasant. But like in a good marriage, you cannot take its success for granted. We have to keep working together to maintain, to grow, and take it to the next level. It should be more than just an ad hoc cooperation, but how should we make this relationship more strategic without being seen as a closed club or without a formalized alliance? That is a challenge, and a few suggestions were made during the webinar that are worth exploring (promote certain business sectors, organize thematic meetings for SME’s, set up a CEO network in the respective residences, formulate common goals etc). I will challenge the members of both Chambers to work something out. But the heart of the matter is: our common values are more and more under pressure. So Sweden and the Netherlands must join forces, and must do so smartly in order to shape developments and preserve what we cherish. I am grateful for the past 5 years, it was wonderful being a temporary Swede. I will carry a part of Sweden with me to my next destination Canada. I am proud of what both embassies have done to give more meaning and depth to the bilateral relationship: by bringing people together, by providing information, by organizing network events and where possible we have done that jointly. I have been blessed with such lovely colleagues at the Swedish embassy in The Hague, and with the board members of both Chambers. Without that fruitful cooperation, which is not a given, I would not have been able to achieve anything. And of course, an Ambassador is literally nowhere without a team. I can honestly say that I have been very very lucky with my team in Stockholm. Let me end by wishing Annika, Els en Kerstin all the best in their endeavours and to express the hope that my successor Bengt van Loosdrecht will be welcomed in the way that I was welcomed. But of course he will, since Swedes and Dutch were made for each other and are made for each other. Together you will lay the foundation for the beginning of the next 400 years, good luck to you all! /Ines Coppoolse
Looking back at the Nordic Circular Economy Series – WHAT’s NEXT?
Looking back at the Nordic Circular Economy Series – WHAT’s NEXT? By Andrea Orsag, co-founder of MissionC and moderator of the webinar series. The whole world was making plans for the year 2020. So much vision for a sustainable world, so many plans to push Circular Economy forward. When we discussed Circular Economy during our annual Nordic Circular Economy Summit back in February, the future seemed bright. Shortly after, the whole world has been hit by COVID-19, an unprecedented pandemic that challenged everything. Many countries closed their borders, cities went into the lockdowns, people moved their work from busy offices to own homes. Physical and social distancing rules were put in place. Restaurants, stores and gyms closed their doors. Events including Tokyo Olympic Games and Dubai Expo were canceled or rescheduled, many activities and plans put on hold. So many things have changed! We started to wonder what this will mean for our future and all the plans to make this world a more sustainable place where the planet is healthy and people can thrive. How will the future look like post COVID-19? What will be the role of Circular Economy? The Nordic Chambers of Commerce, The Nordic Embassies in The Netherlands, representation of the European Commission to the Netherlands and MissionC joined forces to explore what has changed since February and what to foresee once the pandemic gets under control. #NordicCEWhatsnext series were born. Throughout the month of May 2020, we organized and hosted 3 webinars diving into the Leadership insights from Think Tanks, Corporate world, European Commission and ambassadors of the Nordic countries. During our first webinar taking place on 11th May 2020, Freek van Eijk, Director of Holland Circular Hotspot, Marthe Haugland, Senior Innovation Advisor Nordic Innovation, Cathrine Barth, Co-Founder CircularNorway and Harald Friedl, former CEO of Circle Economy, currently its board member and lead for the special projects at COP 26, shared their views on what has changed since all those exciting plans that were in place in February and what is the way forward. The pandemic revealed flows in supply chains and the overall dependency on resources. Social inequality became even more apparent as not everyone has financial buffer, resources and conditions to wait out the situation or work from home. This whole situation is closely linked to how we treat the environment and going back to “normal” is not an option. We’ve learned that the next year will be extremely tough for new circular start-ups but in the long run the need for a CE is greater than ever. Freek highlighted the role of collaboration across the sectors and borders, Harald talked about leadership, Marthe pointed to the crucial role of the cities and Cathrine voiced out the need to change the overall narrative for the world post COVID-19. What were the main conclusions? • The only way forward for Europe if we want to ensure a livable inclusive future is a Green Recovery based on supporting businesses and initiatives helping to lower emissions and creating a more equal society for all – with the use of technology, digitization and green strategies • Role of Circular Economy is even more important now than ever since it can help businesses to future proof their strategy, engage stakeholders including the customers in new ways while better capturing the value of resources: a design for longevity, repairs, modularity and sharing. During those times the demand for office supplies to be used at home grew up. Ahrend, a producer of office furniture, supplied revitalized chairs quickly via Ahrend Reuse, because the chairs are already there: they don’t need to be produced. Circular Economy example in practice • We need leadership – on European, country and local level to collaborate and cooperate, build on what works, scale the solutions and act NOW • Taxing rules and the redistribution of subsidies needs to change – to increase the value of resources, motivating the reuse and preventing waste and pollution. Ex’Tax project remains an inspiration here • There needs to be a new narrative and story to give direction to the possible future we strive for, why it matters and how everyone is a very important part of it: System Change, Business Change and also staying true to the personal values and acting on them “We always say that CE is 20% technological innovation and 80% social innovation. When talking about social innovation I am hinting also at awareness, behavior change and the willingness to engage in new collaborations. Maybe this can be the big win from COVID 19. A massive awareness of dependencies, a need for more resilience not only for health issues but also for crises that are waiting around the corner related to Climate Change and resources, a re-appreciation of human labor, clean air and a stronger desire for a livable environment.” Freek van Eijk We continued the discussion with the Corporate world representatives: Pär Larshans - Chief Sustainability Corporate Responsibility & Public Affairs Officer at Ragn-Sells, Eija Hietavuo - Senior Vice President Sustainability at Stora Enso and Jon Christopher Knudsen - Vice President at Aker Solutions. They shared with us how the COVID-19 impacted their companies and whether Circular Economy has a spot in their recovery plans. We discussed the recovery of the materials – from flying ashes while waste burns, through concrete, CO2 and also why is it important to take a close look at the plastics. It’s not only about the recovery of the materials but about the design enabling longevity, reuse, repurposing and recovery. And also matching the demand with the supply, having an infrastructure in place and regulations giving a clear signal of what direction to go. Does Circular Economy have a place in a corporate world post COVID-19 and how does it look like? • Despite the current challenging situation when business and supply chains are disrupted, this is the time to rethink the business purpose and reshape it in a way that will be beneficial for people and planet as well, not just the profit • We need to design out waste and pollution starting by rethinking the products, materials they consist of and what is happening with them at the end of their use and at the end of their life • There is a need to create a regulatory framework enabling infrastructure and ecosystem that incentives reuse and secondary resources over extraction of the virgin resources • Large industrial operations striving to reduce their CO2 emissions footprint need to embed carbon capture and storage technology on the top of efficiency initiatives – it is already available. Concrete is responsible for 5-8% of global CO2 emissions on its own and construction business will continue in the coming years due to the population increase and more people moving to cities • The overall system change is needed and therefore there is not a single company that can accomplish transition towards Circular Economy on their own. The ecosystem consists of many diverse players that interact in different ways and therefore COLLABORATION is key to making this transition a success You can re-watch the discussion here. Read more about how Ragn-Sells’s circular nutrient company EasyMining takes the next step by setting up the first Potassium plant in Sweden, a 50+ million EUR investment here. Today the use of mineral fertilizers causes 3 % of the global CO2 emissions. Find out more about the processes, where by recirculating the nutrients Ragn-Sells/EasyMining produces a CO2 and Cadmium free fertilizer here. Find out more information about CCS Test Program Aker Solutions starts at Preem Refinery in Sweden here and learn more about their carbon capture and storage related solutions here. Explore with Stora Enso 5 ways of how renewable materials can contribute to a more sustainable market growth here. We concluded the trilogy of the webinars with Rozalina Petrova, Member of the Cabinet of the EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius. She shared with us what will be the role of Circular Economy in the green recovery of Europe, shortly before the European Commission Recovery plan for Europe has been launched. We also received statements from the four Nordic ambassadors to the Netherlands: Ambassador of Sweden H. E. Annika Markovic, Ambassador of Finland H.E. Päivi Kaukoranta, Ambassador of Norway H.E. martin Sørby and Ambassador of Denmark H.E. Jens-Otto Horslund. They have all shared with us the latest developments in their respective countries regarding Circular Economy and Renewable Energy. • Despite the challenging times of COVID-19 and related economic decline, we need to ensure that the recovery on the EU level is focused on advancing digital and sustainable transition • European Commission is aware that it has a big role to play creating regulatory framework enabling such transition, building a more resilient European Union that can be prosperous and reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 • The European Commission was busy putting together a plan to help the EU economy recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The Recovery Plan for Europe has been released on the 27th of May 2020 and you can learn more about it here. It includes various financial instruments, social tools and employment boost programs • Green Deal plays an important role in the economic recovery. Farm to Fork strategy aiming at making the food system healthier and more sustainable as well as strategy to protect biodiversity have been launched last week and Circular Economy Action plan already in March 2020 • The Nordic ambassadors presented their respective country’s strategies and initiatives such as updated roadmap towards Circular Economy in Finland, commitment to electrification and product design in Norway, Circular Economy policy in Sweden and building two large green energy islands in Denmark • The recovery and shaping the green future based on renewable energy and circular economy is not limited by the EU borders, collaboration among nations is needed to ensure a thriving planet for us all “We believe it’s very important to have a recovery plan that puts the EU on sustainability path and interests of EU citizens at its heart” Rozalina Petrova Denmark has in place the most ambitious climate target in the world, to achieve 70% CO2 reduction by 2030 and become climate neutral by 2050. The country plans to build two giant energy islands as a part of the most ambitious offshore wind project. It will be the biggest single infrastructure investment in history. Besides the new climate plan will create thousands of jobs. The project will be financed through public-private partnerships with the majority coming from private investors. Read more about it here. The Norwegian government is currently working on a circular economy strategy to be launched by the end of 2020. Norway is a front-runner in the electrification of the transport sector and you can read more here. This in itself is important to limit greenhouse gases, but more importantly, the new strategy will address the product design and recycling of batteries and fuel cells to make it sustainable and circular. Finland was the very first country to launch a Roadmap towards the Circular Economy in 2016 and it has been updated in 2019. You can learn more about it here Its implementation had just begun when the corona crisis hit. A special working group looks specifically into the energy sector, built environments, industry and food production has been established to prepare a recovery plan. Circular economy is named as one of the cross-cutting themes, as it helps to respond to both climate and biodiversity crises at the same time. Sweden has established a Circular Economy delegation in 2018 and developed a national Circular Economy strategy and programs. Learn more about smart city program here. The embassy put this also in practice and replaced the take, make & dispose model with the long-lasting design, reuse, repair and recycling – through organizing sustainable events such as Fashion Re-dress event with a clothes swap. “Circular Economy is a concept and it must be a part of our DNA in all parts of society in order to work. And I hope we can move along together, all of us, that way” H.E. Jens-Otto Horslund What have I learned during those webinars? Despite the difficult times the world is currently facing – combing COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession and social unrest, there was a lot of vision and hope for a world where the planet and we people will thrive. Collaboration as a key word dominated every single discussion, with strong leadership paving the way for a systemic change on a local, national and international level. The role of Circular Economy where resources will be used in a more efficient way, reused and better utilized will be crucial. The transition towards the Circular Economy will revolutionize the overall consumption. It requires however a new way of thinking, a new way of looking at existing products, rethinking designs in an innovative way for enhancing longevity and creating new relationships with customers and markets. According to the Global Circularity Gap report the world is currently 8,6% circular so there is a big opportunity to be realized. This will help us not only rebuild in a more sustainable way from the current situation but also to fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. Here. In Europe. Around the Globe. For more information and for recordings of the webinar welcome to visit the website of NordicTalks https://nordictalks.org/
Swedes and Dutch are made for each other….. most definitely in sports!
On June 4, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce hosted a webinar on the above mentioned topic. H.E. Annika Markovic, Swedish Ambassador in The Netherlands and H.E. Ines Coppoolse, Dutch Ambassador in Sweden, both gave their view on the communalities and differences of our 2 countries. It is clear that we are quite alike, but also have many differences that actually complement each other. Sport is something that is important for both nationalities. In both countries hockey is an important sport, but when we talk about hockey, we’re not talking about the same sport. The Swedes play on ice, in Holland we love the game of Fieldhockey! Since a few months, I am involved in assisting the Swedish Hockey Association / Svenska Landhockeyförbundet () to expand and enhance the sport in Sweden at club and national level. I was triggered by an article in hockey.nl about a group of Dutch hockey enthusiasts who together with Swedish hockey lovers are working hard to make the game more popular in Sweden. My wife – Pernilla and I have 3 girls who have dual nationalities and are avid hockey players. They would love to play for Sweden! The Svenska Landhockeyförbundet has made a long term plan which is focussed on creating more and better organized clubs and on improving the level of the national teams so they can compete at European and World level. Quite challenging and exciting! On June 11, Ton Langenhuijsen (Technical Director Svenska Landhockeyförbundet) and myself met with Kerstin Gerlagh (General Manager Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the Netherlands) to explain what we are doing and to see how the Chamber could accommodate in any way or form. In August – COVID-19 permitting – we are planning to organize a development program for the Swedish national teams (senior & U21 – M/F) in the Netherlands, during which we will train hard, play matches against club teams and also provide clinics for youngsters at our host clubs. In the next few months, I will write follow-up articles about our endeavours and inform you about activities and our plans. If you have sons and/or daughters who play hockey and have the Swedish nationality, please let us know. We would really appreciate getting in touch with you. Naturally, we would also be very appreciative of any support we could get from Swedish companies in the Netherlands that, like us, believe in expanding the field hockey community in Sweden! Kind regards, Hendrik Jan Guitink Partner AIMS International Netherlands B.V. Photo: Kerstin Gerlagh (middle), Ton Langenhuijsen (right) & Hendrik Jan Guitink (left) at the Epicenter in Amsterdam on June 11.
Meet Jørgen Höppener, General Manager Budbee Netherlands
Budbee, a Swedish log-tech company, arrived 2019 to the Netherlands as their first market outside of the Nordics. Since their launch in 2015 in Sweden Budbee has delivered an ambitious growth and attracted strong investments backing. Budbee’s arrival in the Netherlands shows the strong positioning as expansion market for Swedish companies, and especially in the field of e-commerce and logistics. By setting up their office, team and launching with NL customers Budbee has shown they are capable of making a strong and successful market entry. Budbee has an innovative approach to last mile logistics, by making sure that the consumer has flexibility and control over their delivery and assuring that this can be done in the most sustainable way to minimize distances travelled and focus on CO2 reduction. This innovative Log-Tech company, the next generation companies to follow the big Fintech movement, received the Swedish Chamber Entrepreneurs Award 2019. Who is Jørgen Höppener? You couldn’t tell from my name but I am born and raised in the Netherlands and lived for a short while in Italy in my youth. 30 years old and a big fan of football. After finishing Econometrics in Rotterdam, I went into strategy consulting, because I wanted to work with analytics and business. Being in the consultancy business I worked with many different companies ranging from very large corporates to also smaller startups and scaleups in many different sectors such as e-commerce, retail, transport and insurance. That has given me the leverage to be able to do this job that I am doing today at Budbee. I moved to Budbee because it is a great challenge to actually build something from scratch. We offer a great product that I really believe is needed on the market. In the short time that we have been on the Dutch market I have been able to build up and scale my own team. One of the advantages of working in a company as Budbee is that I have the responsibilities of the Netherlands but still the comfort of a great product that has been developed and proved itself already in Sweden and also, the comfort of having our great investors, H&M and Kinnevik. We are a technologically company offering a logistic service. The mix of tech and logistics is of great importance. We call ourselves a Log-Tech company. Budbee has a Consumer rating of 4,9. What is the key to Budbee’s success and what distinguish you from your competitors in the same branch? Our market has multiple large competitors, such as Post Nord in Scandinavia and in the Netherlands PostNL, DHL and other strong companies. What distinguishes us is the focus on the consumers. We do that with technology that is scalable. So, everything we do is focused on what consumers want and being able to offer them flexibility. The technology is designed to do so, and based on that, we can offer consumers a delivery according to their preferences. Because the customer knows exactly when we arrive, he/she has more time for the important things in life than waiting for their parcel, things like walking the dog or doing groceries. I think this is key to our success, which we see resembled in our consumer ratings in the end, our goal is to have the best delivery experience in the world. Dealing with Sustainability As a technology company in logistics we are actually part of the sustainability problem. But we also want to be a part of the solution and we do that in several ways. We want to do less harm and do better. We do less harm with our very efficient route optimization algorithm. That makes sure they are shorter than normal and only 30% is drivetime, meaning the majority of the driver’s work time he/she is actually busy serving the consumers and not so much driving the van. Also, we can achieve 98% first attempt delivery success, which means that we have fewer traffic to the same address. We combine all parcels that are going from multiple merchants to the same address to be delivered at the same moment. So that’s actually a good way to make sure there is less emission. And from our very first delivery in Sweden we have always compensated our carbon dioxide emissions. It has been like that since 2016 and we actually do a bit more, we compensate 110%. We also want to do more good, but we see that electrical vans and also electrical trucks are not efficient enough to be able to do the job yet and we also see that consumers are not really willing to pay extra yet for fairly sustainable deliveries. We do think sustainability is important and have the ambition to move to a full emission free fleet by 2025. In addition, we are building our first self-sufficient terminal in northern Stockholm that can charge a full electric fleet with solar panels. The ambition in time is to make this possible at more of our terminals. Customers will demand more sustainable services and also government policies like Amsterdam says that the city has to be emission free in 2025. I think it's a very good ambition and I am confident companies like ours can make it. It seems that the Dutch people are champions in returning goods bought via e-commerce. Are there any solutions for that from your point of view? So that's the dilemma. For example, in fashion, customers are returning more than 50% of ordered goods. I would welcome a solution at the front end, such that returns are prevented. One solution for that would be to make better fitting suggestions when consumer choose their products. But I think e-commerce itself is only going to increase as people have less and less time. With increasingly hectic lifestyles, they want to buy online and have their stuff delivered at their home instead of having to go to the shops. That also means that there will always be returns. But we can handle the returns in the most efficient way. We are in the streets anyhow and when we go to the merchants to pick up the goods to be delivered, we can also bring the collected returns back to the same merchant again. That means there will be hardly extra driving needed. Do you believe paying for returning packages? When the technology is not yet good enough to provide better suggestions to consumers, the first solution to reduce returns could be to have customers paying for them. Because then customers will become less inclined to order more than you need. I do however think that such discouraging measures are not the optimal solution. There has to be rules and regulations for the whole branch making sure that the same rules are implemented everywhere because when a shop is not offering free returns the customers will go to the ones who are. Why did Budbee chose the Netherlands as the first country to enter outside the Nordics? Well, the Netherlands has a mature e-commerce market. The e-commerce branch has been one of the front runners in Europe in size per capita and also in how fast it has grown. The choice for the Netherlands for Budbee has partly to do with the densely population and how well people connect to internet, but it has also to do with infrastructure. That's all very well arranged in the Netherlands which means that we can very efficiently reach many people within a short distance. This combination makes the Netherlands very interesting for us and that means that with a rather low complexity we can serve the whole country and reach 17 million people. Since our launch in September 2019 we do multiple thousands per day. This is already pretty good, and we want to grow way more. To start our company in the Netherlands for a Swedish company was quite easy. The Netherlands has a good infrastructure to help you get started. For example, there are plenty of co-working spaces making it relatively easy to find an office location. Furthermore, Dutch people know their English. I think the Swedish culture is similar to the Dutch culture. Sometimes I do find that Swedes have more structure. Take for example the apartment buildings in Sweden. They are very well structured with just a door code enter. While in the Netherlands all buildings have different entries. One you enter with a door code, the other with an intercom and yet another with a key. Moreover, I think that Swedes are maybe a bit more introvert. For example, in Sweden we have an option in our delivery service to leave the package at the door. Many people in Sweden choose for this option although they are at home. So, they don’t want to meet the delivery person and have a little chat. In business I think the Swedes like to start the meetings with a little small talk like “how was your weekend?” while Dutch people are more like “Okay get to the point, I want to finish this meeting.” Are you marketing yourselves as a Swedish company? Yes, we are. I think we have some nice Swedish tech predecessors that have paved the way, like Spotify and Klarna for example. I think it is an advantage that people know that we are a Swedish company. We are a high-quality delivery company where everything is centered around the customers and the quality. So, I think that there is an association with Sweden and quality and to be able to offer that at a good price just like IKEA. What are your biggest challenges moving forward? On the business side the big challenge is the sustainability part of it. There is a mismatch maybe in what the consumer demands when it comes to sustainability versus what they are willing to pay for it. And of course growing in a fast-paced environment is always a challenge, but a fun one! When you're scaling and growing fast, you need to make sure to have the right company culture within the team and that everybody stays on board and is excited. It is important that the team believes in where we're going and feels part of that journey. Culture is key for us and means that we value everybody’s opinions and ideas. We are open and transparent, and we want everybody to feel part of the family, so to say. That's one of the highest priorities to have in place overall in all countries where we are active. Our mission is to be the best delivering experience in the world. So, we are starting with Europe and we are continuously looking into new opportunities and new markets so we will keep on expanding. Gender equality What about log-tech industry, what about gender equality? Yes, an important topic. I think in tech and especially in logistics, it is hard to find women, while I think it is really important because it brings an important mix into decisions and into perspectives. Out of our 16 employees in the NL head-office, we have 5 female employees today. But we would love to increase that balance. Society could support that more, both in terms of policy as well as values. It might be a self-fulfilling prophecy that maybe the society doesn't think women can handle tech while that is totally not the case. I think there are some very good role models we can hang onto more. Collaboration with the Swedish Chamber. I think it is great to get this podium to be able to get an interview in the Annual Review and to create awareness by your members. It was a great honor receiving the Entrepreneurs Award last year which also gave publicity in the Chamber network. I enjoyed very much meeting the ambassador and the other new Chamber members at the Swedish Chamber New Member Lunch earlier this year and to have inspiring discussions on common topics. Maybe at first you don't think you could contribute to the network but then when you meet and talk to other member businesses you notice that there is actually a connection and you never know where that can lead to in terms of collaborations. That is very valuable. When it comes to the Chamber events, I saw you were organizing Women in Tech last year and it can be very important for us to participate in that kind of events. By Josefina Lundh and Kerstin Gerlagh
Key takeaways from “Dutch and Swedes are made for each other”
On June 4, 2020 the Swedish Chamber of Commerce and the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Sweden hosted a joint webinar "Dutch and Swedes are made for each other" with the Swedish Ambassador to the Netherlands, H.E. Annika Markovic and the Dutch Ambassador to Sweden, H.E. Ines Coppoolse. The Webinar was hosted by Ruben Brunsveld and he summarizes the webinar with some key takeaways:
- The Swedes and Dutch tend to find each other quickly and are generally a good match
- There are underlying cultural differences that arise once we start doing business together
- Despite the fact that many (larger) companies find there own way the Embassies are still seen as important partners for companies when doing business abroad
- Embassies can help businesses by facilitating platforms to develop more sustainable businesses to transition to more sustainable and innovative economies Post COVID
- The Netherlands hopes that Sweden will deepen its relations both bilaterally and multilaterally in different international for a, such as NATO and EMU
- From the Swedish perspective the topic of gender diversity and women empowerment is one where there is more field to gain.
- The Embassies emphasized that their doors are always open for businesses (small and large) to come in and also give feedback on their needs.
- The Embassies seem to lack in their communication on everything they doing and can be more effective in reaching out to their business communities.
Follow Swe-Cham Member Northern Delight’s Cooking Class June 8 17.00 CET
Join Swe-Cham MemberNorther Delight's online cooking class on June 8, 17.00 CET. Read more and register .
IKEA Scores High in Textile Industry Benchmark
Great news, IKEA scores high in textile industry benchmark! Last week, the global non-profit organisation Textile Exchange released their Material Change Insights Report. More than 170 global brands partake in the program and the result is a comprehensive overview and analysis of industry progress, tracking corporate alignment on global efforts like the Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) and the transition to circular economy. We are happy and proud to see that IKEA of Sweden is on the leader board in many material areas. High scores were found in areas such as recycled polyester, recycled cotton, preferred down, and Lyocell. “Changing the material agenda to a more sustainable one is one of the key prerequisites for a People & Planet Positive future. IKEA works hard to make a positive impact through the developments of the materials we use in our product range. The benchmark made by Textile Exchange shows good progress from many active brands in the textile industry and we are so happy to be a contributor to great change within the global material production and responsible raw material sourcing," Lena Julle, Category Area Manager for Textiles, at IKEA of Sweden. Read the report .