NEWS

New Dutch Initiative Helps U.S. Security Companies Find European Customers

By Matthew Harwood

WASHINGTON —The Dutch government on Tuesday told representatives from U.S. security companies that it's open for business and offered a new initiative to help them succeed in coveted Dutch and European marketplaces.

 
 
The purpose of the meeting, held at the Royal Netherlands Embassy, was to introduce representatives from the U.S. security industry to the country's Public Security Innovation Center (PSIC)—a public-private partnership funded by the city of the Hague, the Ministry for Economic Affairs, and private industry. Set to open on November 3, the center will work to match foreign companies selling proven security technologies with interested customers, such as governments, voluntary organizations, and other companies from across the world.
 
The center, according to Bart Sattler of the Netherlands Office for Science and Technology, has already entertained potential customers from European government officials, police staff from South Africa, and hotel security officials from Dubai.
 
Government officials and PSIC representatives told U.S. security company representatives that by working through the center, their products have an opportunity to gain a foothold in the European security market.
 
"PSIC will help you transform your product to work best in Europe," said PSIC Director Léon de Bruijn, noting the European market is a difficult place to do business due to different cultures, languages, currency, and tax and legal systems.
 
Companies interested in leveraging the PSIC to find customers for their products in The Netherlands and Europe pay a membership fee based on their size. Small-to-medium-sized businesses pay a membership fee of € 5,000 ($7,500 USD) while large companies, like a Cisco or an IBM, pay € 10,000 ($15,000 USD). The companies also have to provide their product to the PSIC so it can demo the products in front of interested customers.
 
In return, U.S. security companies can expect the PSIC to provide membership support, including sales, marketing, tenders, trade missions, in-person and virtual product demonstrations, and round table meetings between vendors and customers, among other services. U.S security companies will also be able to draw on the support of the West Holland Foreign Investment Agency (WFIA) and the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency to help them navigate a new, diverse  marketplace.
 
Maeson Ethard of the WFIA told U.S. security company representatives that his agency will work to make the transistion to the Dutch marketplace as smooth a process as possible, even going as far to find companies local account managers and help them open bank accounts.
 
Such graciousness begs the obvious question: Why is the Dutch government bending over backward to attractive technology-based security companies to The Netherlands?
 
Officials spoke of the pragmatism motivating the PSIC.
 
"There is an urgent need for technology for public security and safety," Dick Schoof, the director general for public safety and security for the Netherlands Department of the Interior, said. Technology that can make security operations much more efficient are critical to the government, he said, especially with Dutch public safety and security budget cuts of 20 percent expected over the next five years.
 
Schoof told business representatives that private sector security products help the Dutch government "maintain public safety and security." By opening the PSIC, he hopes the process of finding the right product for the right situation will be made easier and more efficient for public safety providers.
 
The center also has potential to give the Dutch economy a boost, says Sattler.
 
The Dutch government hopes initiatives like PSIC will encourage foreign companies to open their first European Union offices in The Netherlands and in the process create Dutch jobs and provide an overall economic boost with an eye toward a long-term relationship.
 
“Once foreign companies have a foothold and gain success in Europe, very often these footholds become their European Headquarters,” Sattler said.
 
Representatives of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were also on hand to lend support to the PSIC.
 
Dr. Nabil Adams, a fellow at the department’s Science and Technology Directorate,  told the group that DHS supports the PSIC for two reasons. Collaboration between the two countries allows the most innovative security products to enter each marketplace thus increasing public security and it also creates instant standards for information sharing thus creating interoperability.
 
The PSIC has also adopted DHS' Unified Incident Command and Decision Support (UICDS) program's framework for information sharing. The UICDS, according to its Web site, is a "'middleware foundation' that enables information sharing and decision support among commercial, government, and academic incident management technologies used to support the National Response Framework (NRF) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS)."
 
This means that any company participating in the PSIC must ensure their products adopt the information sharing standards of UICDS so that information can be shared freely among stakeholders during a crisis. It also means that U.S. companies already participating in the UICDS program have a special advantage by joining the PSIC since their technology is already compatible with its membership requirements.
 

♦ Photo of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, by Claudio.Ar/Flickr

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