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Economic outlook Netherlands more positive again
Higher exports, investments and household consumption   In Q2 2021, consumers spent 9.3 percent more than in Q2 2020. This is mainly due to the (gradual) opening of shops and accommodation and food services. Consumers spent mainly more on accommodation and food services, medical services, clothing and passenger cars. However, household consumption has not yet returned to pre-coronavirus levels. Compared to the second quarter of 2019, household consumption was almost 5 percent lower. In Q2 2021, the volume of investments in fixed assets was 9.5 percent up on the same quarter last year. Investments were mainly up in dwellings, buildings, passenger cars, other road transport, machinery and installations. Investments are also not yet back at pre-coronavirus levels and were around 1 percent lower compared to the second quarter of 2019. Exports of goods and services in Q2 2021 were 14 percent up year-on-year. In particular, more machinery, chemical products and transport equipment were exported. Exports of Dutch manufactured goods were 16 percent higher, while re-exports (the export of previously imported products) grew by 21.1 percent. 3.1 percent GDP growth in Q2 2021 According to the first estimate conducted by CBS, gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 3.1 percent in Q2 2021 relative to the previous quarter. This economic growth was mainly due to increased household consumption and a higher trade balance. Relative to Q2 2020, GDP was up by 9.7 percent.   For more information:  
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Dr. Cara Antoine: “It has never been more important to be more human than ever”
The Swedish Chamber met with Dr. Cara Antoine, Managing Director of Digital Transformation at IG&H, also serving as the President of the Board of Women in Tech NL. During the spring we had the pleasure to have her speak at our Tech Talent-webinar; this time we got a glimpse of what made her into the technological leader she is today.   Being born in the US, raised in Australia and having lived around Europe for the past 26 years, it is safe to say that Dr. Cara Antoine is somewhat of a global citizen. Today she is based in the Netherlands, but her passion for people, cultures and diversity remains the same. Not least in her work. In her current role as Managing Director at IG&H for digital transformation, she helps to transform businesses and cultures across global industries while taking the people along with her; what ultimately seems to have been the golden thread throughout her career. — I have always been pretty agnostic in my technology background, so I started off with process control and process excellence, to later move more and more into the digital space as I progressed, really focusing on the digital transformation of organisations and of cultures.  The will to enable cultural and organisational transformation through technology stems from Cara’s passion to change, improve and save people and the planet.  “But what does it mean to save the planet or people’s lives?”, she asks herself just before bringing up a personal example from her career. She points to the hardhat behind her. — When I was working at Shell, I was asked to digitise the environment of the upstream production and the off-shore facilities in order to save lives. I started to fly to the different assets, and in doing so, I recognised that while digitisation would help us improve our operational effectiveness in the organisation, it was not the silver bullet that was going to help us to save lives. The problem was the mechanism of flying.  After starting to reduce the number of people flying to the offshore facility by enabling them to work in a digital way through remote operations, Cara and her team started to see more people being able to go home safely at night.  — It was very transformational, but because of that strategy less people were killed. And that is something I am very proud to have been connected to.   

Dr. Cara Antoine visiting an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

The power of “I believe in you”

Another way for Cara to impact is through her commitment to Women in Tech. As a young girl, she fell in love with science and technology. From reading about the accomplishments of great pioneers like Grace Hopper and Amelia Aerhart, to being utterly fascinated by the inside of a wireless radio when dropping it to the floor during a sibling chase around the house; tech fascinated her.  As soon as she was old enough, she signed up for the school’s electrical engineering course. Little did she know that the teacher of the class would remain one of her most important role models until this day.  — I was the only girl, but luckily I had a teacher who believed in every student in the class. That teacher inspired me to use my creativity to bind and solder the different colored wires, connect them to a circuit board, attach a speaker and then create a sound. And when we made it play, I thought ‘wow if I can make this music play, that is what I want to do’.  I believe in you. Those four words were the most empowering ones Cara had ever been told as a kid. And ever since, she has been searching for those same kinds of role models for the coming generations. Because the stubborn fact is that there is a significant number of women and girls in technologian roles still missing.  — Many are not being encouraged in the same way I was lucky to be as a young girl, and so I am very motivated to change that. We are missing a significant portion of the workforce in terms of diversity. And I know that we can do so much better.

Diversity in the space of tech

Getting more diverse technological solutions requires there to be diverse thoughts coming into the development. Needless to say, Women in Tech’s mission to get 5 million more women into tech between now and 2030, is crucial.  To reach that goal, Cara and her companions in the Netherlands focus on 5 of the 17 sustainable development goals from the UN.  — Gender equality is at the heart of all we do, but we also focus on entrepreneurialism, science, technology, innovation, education and social inclusion. And in each of those areas, we are leading initiatives and events, conversations and podcasts on themes to help progress what is happening. A big part of getting more girls and women into tech has to do with creating accessibility. That is why Women in Tech NL make sure to get out to the classrooms of less privileged schools, equipping them and arranging activities such as virtual game creation through low coding and building a robot. — At the end they get a certificate that they have become ‘coders’. And to see kids running around the classroom after hitting that green button is just the most beautiful thing. It is so empowering and liberating to give them that new skill, having them think ‘I can accomplish anything I want’.

Technologists with business presence 

Going back to the importance of setting up role models, Cara shares the remarkable fact that 60% of individuals having a role model are more likely to be interested in tech. And for that reason, Women in Tech have created a 4 month long program to highlight relatable and accessible females to look up to.  Each month covers a different theme: passion, purpose, presence and pay-it-forward. But it is not expertise within technology that is important. Rather it is having the skills of leading others and the confidence to inspire and influence.  — We too often find that there is a tipping point. Either you are really strong in technology but not so good in terms of leadership, or vice versa. And there has to be a balance. Because to be someone others look up to, you do not have to know the most about AI or machine learning, but be a great human being in life and in work. While emphasizing the theme of presence, Cara shares that there is a need for females to know how to promote their story, present themselves, share skills with others and pay the way forward.  — Women have a very important role to play in their own self development. So it is equally important to be accomplished in tech as it is to be confident in business. It is essential to have skills such as personal branding, storytelling, public speaking, pitching and negotiating.  

A group of individuals wearing blind glasses during the Blind Day Global Accessibility Day.

The inclusion solution

As for the future of leadership, with basically every company turning into a tech one, Cara believes in re-shifting the masculine world and keeping the people at the center. The fact that we are working in a digital space is unimportant, because at the end of the day it is people's way of working that is transforming, and not companies themselves. Transformation can be enabled or empowered by digital technology, but if the people do not change or know how to change, then nothing is going to change.  We are still working off data sets that were historically developed by men. And so in order to diversify future technological solutions and really represent the society holistically, there is a need to diversify thoughts and design inclusion in the solution while building it. Basically, making the new leadership inclusive.  — To me, diversity is getting different people in the room with you. But inclusion has to do with making sure every voice is being heard. ‘I go where I am invited and I stay where I belong’, that is a quote I like to use. So giving people a feeling of belonging is very important. What kind of a leader are you? — In terms of my own approach and what I think is important for leaders, I believe in getting to know people’s deepest passions within your teams. To know what their values are, their motivations and their talents. It has never been more important than now to be more human than ever, and so keeping people at the center is what I as a technologist lead with.   Text: Jennifer Nilsson, Swedish Chamber of Commerce
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Coronavirus in the Netherlands: what you need to know (August 13)
Prime minister Mark Rutte outlined the next stages in the dismantling of the Netherlands’ coronavirus regulations on Friday, and set November 1 as the target date for when things will be back to normal. Here’s what you need to know:
Vaccinations The government says it is ‘doing its utmost’ to make getting vaccinated against coronavirus as simple as possible. A number of regional health boards (GGD) are now using mobile and drop in vaccination centres. An overview of these walk-in vaccination centres is available online.
August 30 The 1.5 metre rule will end in colleges and universities, although students will have to wear a mask when moving around, self test twice a week and there is a 75-student limit on lecture theatres. The regulations for secondary schools – keeping 1.5 metres from teachers and wearing a mask outside class – will not change at the start of the new term, because of the low vaccination rate among teenagers to date. Cafes and bars must still close at midnight and guests must all have a seat. All other measures currently in place remain and testing for travel will remain free of charge until October 1.September 17 A press conference, at which Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge will announce if the next step in their programme to fully open up the Netherlands again can be taken. September 20 The next step. The 1.5 metre rule will be abandoned, as will most other measures. Masks will no longer be required on public transport. Clubs and discos remain closed. However, with the decision to end social distancing, new regulations are being introduced for the hospitality industry, festivals and congresses, sports matches, and cinemas and theatres. If locations want to admit more than 75 guests or ticket holders, they will only be allowed to admit people with a coronavirus certificate, meaning they have been fully vaccinated, or have a negative test result (no older than 24 hours) or have recently recovered from coronavirus. Charges will be introduced for the free tests for entry currently on offer. The rule will apply to all locations, with or without fixed seating, and both indoors and outdoors. The vaccination rate and the spread of new infections will be key in deciding whether or not social distancing can be abandoned. November 1 The aim is to scrap all remaining restrictions – and allow clubs to reopen – from November 1.
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Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski “How Sweden became the Silicon Valley of Europe”

STOCKHOLM, Aug 11 (Reuters) - As Klarna's billionaire founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski prepares to stage one of the biggest-ever European fintech company listings, a feast of capitalism, he credits an unlikely backer for his runaway success: the Swedish welfare state.

In particular, the 39-year-old pinpoints a late-1990s government policy to put a computer in every home.

"Computers were inaccessible for low-income families such as mine, but when the reform came into play, my mother bought us a computer the very next day," he told Reuters.

Siemiatkowski began coding on that computer when he was 16. Fast-forward more than two decades, and his payments firm Klarna is valued at $46 billion and plans to go public. It hasn't given details, though many bankers predict it will list in New York early next year.

Sweden's home computer drive, and concurrent early investment in internet connectivity, help explain why its capital Stockholm has become such rich soil for startups, birthing and incubating the likes of Spotify, Skype and Klarna, even though it has some of the highest tax rates in the world.

That's the view of Siemiatkowski and several tech CEOs and venture capitalists interviewed by Reuters.

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The Swedish Chamber’s Business Awards 2021
The Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the Netherlands is proud to present the Swedish Chamber’s Business Awards 2021. Exclusively for the Swedish Chamber of Commerce 60th Anniversary, we are presenting three prizes in three categories. The Grand Award Ceremony will take place at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce 60th Anniversary Gala Dinner on November 18, 2021. The Annual Swedish Business Awards was launched by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in 2010 at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce 50th Anniversary. The first Swedish Chamber Business Award was given by H.E. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden to Mr. Ingvar Kamprad, CEO and Founder of IKEA at an exclusive Award Ceremony at the Swedish Chamber 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner. Since 2012, the Swedish Chamber Business Awards is a collaboration between the Swedish Chamber, The Swedish Embassy and Business Sweden. Swedish companies successfully established on the Dutch market are able to apply for the Business Awards. Application has to be applied before October 18, 2021. To learn more about the criteria and how to apply, please visit
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Dr. Cara Antoine, Managing Director Digital Transformation at IG&H, confirmed speaker at the upcoming event Women in Tech on September 16, 2021
The Swedish Chamber is proud to introduce Dr. Cara Antoine, Managing Director Digital Transformation at IG&H, as one of our prominent speakers at the upcoming event Women in Tech on September 16, 2021. Cara has seasoned Executive experiences in digitally transforming businesses and cultures across global industries from Polaroid to Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Royal Dutch Shell, Microsoft, and IG&H. She serves as Netherlands President and Executive Member of the Board of Women in Tech, as Supervisory Board Member at Wortell, and on the Quality Council at the BIT Academy to excite future generations of female leaders to choose for a career in technology. Cara will elaborate on the question “Where are all the Allies and Role Models needed to encourage more women into tech?”. In this webinar, we bring together leading experts and stakeholders to explore the topic Women in Tech. What are the possibilities and challenges for women tech entrepreneurs in this time of pandemic and a booming demand for tech solutions and a growing tech industry? What impact does it have on women tech entrepreneurs?   For more information, please visit our event.
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Funda Sezgi, Co-founder & MD Norrsken Impact Accelerator, confirmed summit speaker of the Swedish Chamber’s 60th Anniversary on November 18, 2021
The Swedish Chamber is proud to present Funda Sezgi, Co-founder & MD Norrsken Impact Accelerator, as one of our prominent summit speakers at the upcoming Swedish Chamber’s 60th anniversary on November 18, 2021. Funda Sezgi is co-founder and MD at Norrsken Impact Accelerator. Before focusing on the accelerator, Funda took on the chief growth officer and chief operating officer roles at Norrsken Foundation, responsible for the foundation’s operations, partnerships and expansion to Africa and Europe. She also headed Norrsken House and was in charge of setting up and running their first entrepreneurial hub in Stockholm. Prior to joining Norrsken, Funda worked as a market analyst, a management consultant, and an acceleration program manager helping social entrepreneurs go international. Funda will contribute with valuable insights to the Swedish-Dutch Innovation & Sustainability Summit which focuses on 21-century Innovation, where the greater trends facing us will be addressed. For more information, please visit the
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Women in Tech on September 16, 2021
What are the possibilities and challenges for women tech entrepreneurs in this time of pandemic and a booming demand for tech solutions and a growing tech industry? What impact does it have on women tech entrepreneurs? The Swedish Chamber of Commerce welcomes you to the upcoming event Women in Tech on September 16, 2021. In this webinar We bring together leasing experts and stakeholders from Sweden and the Netherlands to share knowledge and experiences. Speakers: Dr. Cara Antoine, Managing Director Digital Transformation, IG&H | Global Women in Tech, The Netherlands Ariane Bucquet-Pousette, Project Manager Start-Ups Invest Stockholm more speakers to be announced. Moderator: Rens Goudsmit, Head of TK Tech & Attorney at law. The Swedish Chamber of Commerce Tech Table 2021 is supported by TK Tech – TeekensKarstens advocaten notarissen. For more information, visit the upcoming event .
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