For the Interreg COM³ project, the Province of Drenthe is running a pilot in which it created a regional SME database. The goal of this database is to combine the available data sources in the region into one application to be used by the economics department, business support program and the SMEs themselves.
The application Regiodatabank is based on the data provided by the chamber of commerce. This is the most complete dataset that we have available in the Netherlands, although it doesn’t say as much about the specific activities of the SMEs. Most companies only visit the website of the chamber of commerce once, when they start their company. At that point the chamber of commerce requires the SME to fill in an activity based on a list they provide. Even if the company activity changes after the registration, this code is often never updated again.
This lead to the difficult situation that we had incomplete knowledge about the activities of SMEs in the region, which makes it harder to create effective economic policies and subsidies. Because of this, we sought out to find additional data sources that could help us determine what activities happened in the region. One of these sources was a dataset from the Dutch data science company, Innovatiespotter. The latter uses an algorithm to search through open source information to more accurately determine what activities SMEs are doing and which companies are most likely to develop innovative solutions.
Another useful dataset was the subsidy registry. In this, the subsidy providers for Drenthe kept track of the subsidies that have been granted and its effect on projects, innovation and growth in the region.
A hurdle in combining the different datasets was the lack of API’s. The early stages mostly consisted of having to work with exports of the data. Throughout the project we worked together with several partners to create these API’s so we are able to always have data that is recent and up-to-date.
Through combining these different datasets we were able to have a better oversight of everything that is happening in Drenthe. The regional database offers the economics department and the business support program a better tool to help SMEs grow and innovate. The dataset is also available as open data in the recently launched application so regional companies are also able to search for local cooperating partners.
The first version of the application is now online and can be visited through: https://regiodatabank.ikbendrentsondernemer.nl/