Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the opening reception of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, The Hague, 3 June 2019

Mr Secretary,
Madam Mayor,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The Netherlands welcomes you with open arms. We are extremely proud to be co-hosting this 9th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the first to be held in the European Union.

Secretary Pompeo, both our countries were built on the principles of free trade, an entrepreneurial spirit and an international outlook. What’s more, we’ve been close friends and trade partners for over 400 years.

So it makes sense that this summit has come to the Netherlands. And we are grateful and excited that it has. So I’d like to thank you and the US government for this opportunity to be your co-host this year.

And thank you, everyone, for coming from all over the world to my home town, The Hague.

Ladies and gentlemen, first and foremost this summit offers a wealth of opportunities. For established multinational businesses and scale ups. For institutional and private investors. In fact, for the world as a whole. Because the Global Entrepreneurship Summit has a long-standing tradition of building connections that make the world better and at the same time make a healthy profit.

Connecting doing good and doing well.

Given the major challenges the world faces – climate change, food production, connectivity, energy and health – it’s crystal clear that society is your next big client. It’s clear that sustainability is by far the biggest business case of our time. And that innovation is key.

But that will hardly come as a surprise, because innovation has always been the foundation of successful entrepreneurship.

Henry Ford is thought to have said: ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ And this point still holds true today. To solve tomorrow’s problems, we need fresh ideas and new solutions today. Or as you, Mr Secretary, put it in a preparatory meeting in Kansas: ‘If you keep doing things the way you always did, you will fail.’

That’s what we mean by The Future Now.

The business model of this 9th Global Entrepreneurship Summit is itself innovative. For the first time the GES is bringing together businesses and large-scale investors. For example BlackRock, the biggest investor not only in the United States but, in fact, the entire world. And some of the biggest investors in Europe and Asia, like the Dutch pension fund APG and Softbank of Japan.

So when you look around this hall and the World Forum, you’ll be looking at hundreds of billions of euros and dollars just waiting for the next brilliant idea, scientific breakthrough or promising business proposition. That alone makes this summit unique.

And let’s not forget that strong societies are built on entrepreneurship and the principles of free trade. Because entrepreneurship and the rule of law feed into one other. Because democracy, equality and political stability are prerequisites for prosperity and progress. And because in the end, fair competition and the protection of intellectual property benefit us all.

I believe that in today’s globalised world we must acknowledge that international entrepreneurship and international trade are not zero-sum games. And that working together is the best way forward. That too is at the heart of this summit, which brings together the best of the best in entrepreneurship and investment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As I’m sure you all know, Steve Jobs once said, ‘Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.’

To me, the fact that you have come to The Hague shows that each and every one of you wants to innovate and lead. Over the next few days you will be part of a unique community of two thousand passionate, bright and creative women and men from around the globe. Together you will seize opportunities and create new ones, to improve The Future Now.

I hope the summit will give you fresh inspiration and interesting networking opportunities, and I wish you all every success.
Thank you.