Newsletter of the Consulate General of the Netherlands in San Francisco 
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Dear reader,
After weeks of online preparation, June 15 finally marked the start of our inaugural Dutch virtual trade mission on smart and e-mobility. As a consulate, one of our primary goals is to connect Dutch companies with US counterparts, ensuring they have a soft landing spot on the West Coast, even during these difficult times. Our virtual trade mission was therefore designed to encourage trade relations, facilitating the creation of lasting international partnerships through online connection.
Never before did the Netherlands or California set up such a virtual event, making the mission an exciting international first. Such a pilot generates opportunities but also questions, many probably familiar to those of you who are currently working from home as well. Will the internet connection be strong enough for international online sessions? And how do you re-create that personal human connection through a screen?
Fortunately, the mission was a great success. Over 100 American and Dutch businesses participated, and used the five-day mobility event to share, connect, and discuss on our online platform. We also had many renowned guest speakers - including Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Cooperation Development Sigrid Kaag and California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis - and an audience of over 1500 viewers a day.

I would like to thank our enthusiastic delegation, our guests and our partners, as well as all of our colleagues at the Embassy and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure & Water Management, and of course the consulate team who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes, literally this time. Together, we have successfully overcome the physical COVID-19 barriers, which is a wonderful achievement.
Now that the first virtual mission is over, our online e-Consulate services continue. Check our upcoming webinars on for instance pride month, or reach out for consular or economic assistance. It is great to see that after four years of being a consul, I can still have new experiences in the field, seeing Dutch virtual innovation at its best.
Stay safe and stay healthy,
Gerbert Kunst
Consul General

First Dutch virtual trade mission, on smart and e-mobility
From June 15-19, Dutch and American businesses on smart and e-mobility made the virtual journey to Silicon Valley for the first Dutch virtual trade mission. It was organized by the e-Consulate in San Francisco, in close collaboration with our colleagues at the Embassy, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure & Water Management, as well as many corporate partners. The mission would also not have been possible without the great help of our friends at the California Governor’s office, for who the virtual setting was also a first. As important partners in innovative urban planning and sustainable infrastructures, the mission virtually connected experts from both the US and the Netherlands, now that COVID-19 has made travel impossible.
“The coronavirus is stopping all of our usual missions in their tracks at a crucial moment in time,” said Consul General Gerbert Kunst. “Many businesses are impacted by the pandemic and are looking for new ways to innovate and connect right now. This is especially true for the field of smart and e-mobility, as COVID-19 has completely changed the way we look at travel and commuting worldwide. You already see a stronger need for bicycle infrastructure. What will public transportation look like while social distancing?”

A program comprised of a preparation package, thematic webinars, interactive meetings, and networking sessions with renowned experts encouraged the sharing of knowledge and the forging of partnerships through a new online platform, which will stay available for the delegation until the end of the year.
Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag and California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis opened the mission and welcomed the mobility delegation into the new virtual setting. The Policy Dialogue on Zero Emission Vehicle Transport that followed furthermore featured Commissioner Patty Monahan of the California Energy Commission and Deputy Minister Roald Lapperre of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Stientje van Veldhoven, Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, also made an appearance. To watch the sessions, click here.
Thematic webinars: From Forth’s Roadmap, to LA on the Move
E-mobility is a fast-moving and innovative sector, particularly in the Netherlands and California.
“A digital mission shows that both California and the Netherlands are highly focused on the long-term goals of the mobility and energy transition,” said Baerte de Brey, chief international officer at ElaadNL and delegation member. “Adapting to the corona crisis by organizing the exchange of thoughts and plans in a digital way is an example of the innovative spirit we both have.”
During the mission, themes were tackled by Dutch and American experts alike in daily parallel webinars, allowing participants to pick and choose the topics most relevant to their niche. From transportation in the Netherlands and California to hydrogen use or heavy-duty batteries, a broad spectrum of topics was available, all of them discussed with an eye toward a post-pandemic and increasingly sustainable future.
“Public transport is very developed, but that is the here and now. Environment and sustainability are very important in the Netherlands, and this is creating the pressure to change the mobility mix,” said Constantine Demetriou, mission participant and head of international development at the Dutch company Hardt Hyperloop. “As a result, the Netherlands is a breeding ground for new and innovative methods and the Netherlands government is focused on encouraging new methods of transport like hyperloop or other methods of smart mobility.”
Of course, no Dutch mobility mission is complete without the topic of cycling, which was the theme of day three.

Due to the cancelation of the annual Electric Vehicle Summit (EVS) by Forth, the virtual mission also incorporated the company’s EVS33 roadmap to Portland webinars.
Online networking
International cooperation is a vital part of doing business, especially in economically difficult times. Matchmaking sessions gave Dutch and American companies the opportunity to find potential business partners now that the coronavirus is preventing face-to-face contact. Using the online platform, participants could view, like, and message interesting parties, and were grouped together in personalized swipe-right, swipe-left sessions.
Together with the social moment, which randomly mixed delegation members in break-out sessions and a matchmaking that allowed participants to visit each other in designated rooms, a strong resemblance to the usual business meetings, virtual office hours with the consulate team, networking receptions, and mixers were found.
Meet the mobility delegation
The participants of the digital trade mission joined the mission from the comfort of their own home or office in the Netherlands. Here you see TU Delft, Urban Mobility Systems, e-Tuk Factory and ElaadNL participating in the mission.
The making of a virtual trade mission
Shaping a trade mission into a virtual format requires lots of work behind the scenes.
“I think this virtual mission really represents the Netherlands, showcasing the smart Dutch approach to problem solving,” said Consul General Kunst. “Although the cancellations of our scheduled trade missions is disappointing, our quick adaptation to a virtual format exemplifies Dutch innovation and flexibility at its best.”
An interactive platform, a tech-savvy team, and an enthusiastic delegation were musts for this virtual mission, as well as a live studio set up at the Netherlands Consulate General in San Francisco.

Kicking off each mission day with talk show “Good Morning, San Francisco” were Dutch hosts Consul General Gerbert Kunst and his communication advisor Sietze Vermeulen. More than 1500 viewers watched the first day, as Gerbert and Sietze interviewed distinguished guests and shared the latest mission schedule. Missed the show? Click here to watch “Good Morning, San Francisco” and many other mission sessions.
Lillies for Healthcare Heroes Laguna Honda Hospital
As corona swept across the world and the US, healthcare workers suddenly became the first line of defense in a global health crisis. That’s why Consul Gerbert Kunst and colleagues of the consular team handed out 1500 bouquets of lilies to the brave healthcare heroes of Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco, in collaboration with Sun Valley Floral, Mercury Global Partners and photographer Heidi Alletzhauser. During this pandemic, no group deserves this Dutch token of appreciation more than the nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers fighting for our lives every day. We thank you, and as we say in Dutch “dankjewel.
Anne Frank: A History for Today
Anne Frank would have turned 91 years old on June 12. Her legacy has lived on in both the Netherlands and the US, particularly through the pop-up Anne Frank Exhibition, which traveled the US West Coast school systems for the last few years. On June 10, this exhibition – and all its involved schools – were celebrated in the concluding webinar “Anne Frank: A History for Today: Students Become Teachers from Alaska to New Mexico.”

Rewatch the webinar on YouTube.

The exhibition – which was initiated by the Dutch Consulate General in San Francisco in a partnership with the Anne Frank House in November 2017 – taught ideals such as tolerance, freedom, and inclusivity to American high schoolers, who became peer guides and students of Anne’s inspiring story, which is still relevant today. Many people gathered online to celebrate Anne’s exhibition and story, including Aaron Peterer and Ronald Leopold  (Anne Frank House), Maya Soetoro (University of Hawaii), Consul Gerbert Kunst, and many of the teachers and students who worked so hard to make it all happen. The exhibition is currently halted in Portland and will eventually find a permanent home at the Holocaust Center in Seattle. The schools in Portland and Seattle will get the opportunity to host the exhibition once circumstances allow.
Upcoming webinars
The e-Consulate in San Francisco is resuming its interactive webinar series. Sign up for one of the upcoming virtual events below, or watch a previous webinar of your choice on the e-Consulate website.
  • June 26, 9.30am PT: Building the Transatlantic Rainbow:  LGBTQ+ Advocacy in the EU and the US. With speakers: Maria Walsh, Member of the European Parliament;  Boris Dittrich, Dutch Senator and former Human Rights Watch; Scott Wiener, California State Senator; Dustin Gardiner of the San Francisco Chronicle is moderator. Please register through Zoom.
  • July 2, 8.00 am PT: Launch Seattle Playbook: How to do Business in Seattle and Washington State. Hear from successful Dutch entrepreneurs Arean van Veelen and Martijn van Tilburg how to do business in this booming city. You can register by sending us an email. 
Did you know...
  • Consul General Gerbert Kunst sat down with travel journalist Liesbeth Rasker to discuss diplomacy in corona times. Listen to the Dutch podcast ‘Diplomatie Raakt’ here (in Dutch).
  • You can watch the after movie of the first Dutch virtual trade mission on smart & e-mobility right here, to get a lasting impression of Dutch virtual innovation.
  • The new Internships in the Valley video is online. Check out the first matched students, our talent partners, and learn more about hosting Dutch interns.
  • BNR Nieuwsradio did a segment on the first Dutch virtual trade mission. Listen to delegation member Huib Stad of Rolling in the City talk all things virtual mobility mission here (in Dutch).

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