About us

The NEC (Nederlandse Export Combinatie – Netherlands Export Combination) was founded in 1952 by the trade for the trade. The NEC consists of a team of experienced advisors who provide entrepreneurs with support and advice in setting up and expanding their international activities. To facilitate this, the NEC organises collective activities such as trade missions, trade show participation and conferences. The NEC often organises these activities in cooperation with Dutch Ministries, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Dutch Embassies abroad, our local partners and branch organisations. In addition, the NEC regularly collaborates with foreign consultant parties to explore mutually beneficial avenues within the Netherlands.

The NEC provides export advice to various individual market segments and establishes contact with agents and distributors. Since 1952, the NEC has been building networks in various sectors around the world. A variety of export specialists with knowledge and experience of the market and your industry are active within the NEC. Our consultants have made their own mark in the international business environment. By means of a practical approach and a large network, the NEC has realised many successful international projects.

Would you like to learn more about what we can do for you, please take a look at our brochure or contact us directly.

The NEC was founded in 1952 by the trade for the trade. The organisation, established as a foundation, aimed to encourage and promote international activities. Without frequent air travel, internet and communication by e-mail, conducting business internationally was complex and time consuming. The NEC Foundation’s collective approach was initiated in order to enter international markets more easily.

“The man with a suitcase full of samples”
To implement this collective approach, the NEC was established as one of the first organisations in the Netherlands in the field of international business relations. Finding international partners such as agents and distributors for companies was one of the organisation’s key tasks. A “globetrotter” representing the NEC travelled to a specifically chosen region with samples and brochures from members of the foundation. This was the modern means of exploring foreign markets at that time. During the trips, new contacts were made, products were presented and opportunities in the market were explored. To achieve this, the NEC networks in these countries were very instrumental. These visits added to the growing NEC network both nationally and internationally; at its peak, there were 560 Dutch member companies. The expression “I believe in the man with the suitcase full of samples” was familiar and understood by all.

Methods of communication and transport changed over the years and doing business internationally on an individual basis became important for many companies. The government also assumed an increasingly decisive role in export promotion and developed numerous initiatives in this area. In 2006, the NEC therefore transitioned from a foundation to a private company. In addition to the collective activities, the NEC started in 2006 to focus on individual trajectories. Furthermore, many projects are now undertaken in collaboration with the Dutch government, whereby processes do not have to be financed by the companies alone. In this context, the NEC works together with the RVO (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland – Netherlands Enterprise Agency), Ministries, Dutch Embassies and branch organisations.
The combination of both collective and individual export trajectories ensures that the NEC is, to date, a known entity in export support.



65 years Netherlands Export Combination (NEC)

In 1952 4 entrepreneurs decided to work together in order to increase their export opportunities. The Netherlands Export Combination (NEC) was born.

For these companies trade missions were organised by world travellers in order to find them agents, importers and distributors and last but not least to gain market information. To date a worldwide network of partners exists in virtually every country.

The launch of the Internet meant that markets were becoming more transparent and international communication easier. Due to influence of the government, the possibility for business matchmaking during trade missions was offered. As of 2007 the NEC has started to cooperate with both national and international partners (e.g. Netherlands Enterprise Agency, International Trade Development Boards and more). Besides the self-organised activities, activities started to be organised on assignment. It became the key principle to carry out projects in which clients/participants were offered the highest possible added value, by working together with carefully selected partners.
Besides the initiation and execution of trade missions the NEC expanded its business by organising Holland pavilions, by becoming agent for leading trade fairs, by providing individual export advise to clients and by organising export courses. A team of 12 enthusiastic persons carries out all of this.

Below you can find the NEC’s statue: the “world traveller”. The NEC slogan back in the days was: “I believe in the man with the monster suitcase.”

“The man with the monster suitcase”

Over the years the NEC has built an extensive international network with local partners and governments in almost all countries of the world. Within these countries, the NEC works in cooperation with sector-specific partners, allowing us to quickly identify and access the correct and most current information.

Collaboration is of the utmost importance to the NEC. Our strategy is to work together with other parties to maximise the added value of our activities for the participants. This means that we engage specialised knowledge and experience relevant to these projects. To date, this approach has yielded a pleasant and long-lasting relationship with our partners in both the Netherlands and abroad.

In the Netherlands, the NEC works together with and on assignment for embassies, ministries, foreign governments, branch organisations and Dutch companies. The NEC is currently one of the main contractors for the RVO with regards to the execution of inbound and outbound trade missions and trade fair participations.

The NEC has a strong expertise in setting up international trade relations on behalf of small and medium enterprises. The NEC could assist you to enter the market in The Netherlands or other markets in Europe or in other continents. The NEC is active in various sectors all over the world. Below you will find an overview of the type of companies we do business with and what sectors we are active in.

The NEC advises international start-ups how to enter the global market according to their wishes and the current market developments.  A lot of start-ups do not think it is possible to attend a trade fair, let alone to be part of a trade mission. On the contrary, joining a trade fair or mission could be a perfect beginning for international newcomers to become internationally active. The NEC could assist you with participating in a trade fair or mission but could also assist you in (re)writing your export strategy and planning of the execution of it. There are various subsidies possible to use our services and we are happy to assist you with applying for these. Very often Dutch start-ups follow the subsidized Starters International Business trajectory.  For foreign start-ups in and outside the Netherlands it is possible to start the 4-step-marketplan with the NEC. Both the Starters International Business and the 4-step-plan consist of a company scan, market research, B2B search & matchmaking and a follow up enabling you to create your first business in a new market. The NEC has assisted more than 1.000 international start-ups in the past. Please read the stories of the Dutch companies Puik, Buitendijk Slaman and Hanse Staalbouw.

The NEC advises all companies which would like to change or expand their international business. Next to advising start-ups, the NEC assists more experienced companies with their international business. The NEC serves as a sounding board for seasoned international entrepreneurs who are seeking new ways to do business and new market opportunities globally. In consultation with the NEC, entrepreneurs get new insights on their export strategy, the market developments, governmental subsidies and so on. Experienced companies could also make use of the subsidized Starters International Business program, DHI, the 4-step-plan just as start-ups or other programs.  Foreign companies could also apply for subsidies in their own country or from the EU. The NEC is happy to assist you with the application. The NEC helped more than 750 experienced companies in the past. Please read the stories of the Dutch companies Dopper and Agraplan

The NEC is active in virtually all countries and sectors and over the years gained expertise in many specific sectors. Some of them being Agri & Food, Horticulture, Creative sector, Infrastructure & Building, Health care, Smart Cities, Metal industry, Water and so on. In all of these sectors the NEC more and more concentrates on the aspect of circularity. The Dutch Government selected 5 sectors that will be the first to switch to a circular economy. These priority sectors are biomass and food, plastics, manufacturing industry, construction sector and consumer goods. How the NEC is conveying the circular message in these specific sectors internationally and what activities we undertake, you could read here.

For more information on the services of the NEC, please contact Joost van Dam or Steven Smit.