In 2020, InnovationQuarter assisted 43 foreign companies with opening a new branch or expanding existing activities in Zuid-Holland. In the coming years, these 43 mostly technologically advanced companies will jointly create 1,268 jobs and invest over €273 million in the region. These results exceed InnovationQuarters’ targets for 2020. The results are above expectations given the global decrease in foreign investment flows due to the Corona pandemic.
Corona crisis is pressing global figures
Foreign business investment has been under pressure everywhere since the Corona crisis. A report from the UNCTAD even indicated a decrease of more than 40%. The global crisis and growing economic uncertainty, coupled with varying travel restrictions, lockdowns and delivery problems, are causing companies to be reluctant to open new branches.
Despite this strong downward trend on a global scale, InnovationQuarter has successfully attracted a large number of companies from abroad to the region in the past year. This is due to various factors, such as a previously developed substantial list of companies with specific interest in the region, to the close collaboration between InnovationQuarter and knowledge institutions, physical hotspots and fellow acquisition organizations in our region, and to our intensified commitment to relationship management (investor relations) with foreign companies already established here. As InnovationQuarter has for several years been focused on attracting companies that form a strategic reinforcement for the region, the results appear less sensitive to trends affecting the global economy.
Most companies active in innovative technologies and sectors
In the past year, we mainly welcomed innovative, technologically advanced companies in Zuid-Holland. Most new companies are active in the Technology Industry, IT and Life Sciences & Health. Also there were many landings or expansions in the Horti / Agro sector, Cybersecurity, Energy and Aerospace. The companies often seek to make part of the strong clusters in our region and are attracted by the availability of talent.
An example of this is the Ethiopian / Dutch company African Bamboo. The company develops and produces building materials based on tropical bamboo and will set up an R&D facility in Delft. Since its foundation, African Bamboo has been working with renowned European research organizations, including TU Delft and TNO. In order to strengthen the partnerships and reduce the distance to the European market, the company looked for a new location for its R&D department. “Our choice soon fell on Delft. InnovationQuarter gave advice and put us in touch with interesting partners. In this way we discovered the many advantages of the region, such as the facilities of the TU Delft campus, the proximity to the port of Rotterdam and the high level of knowledge in the field of technical innovations.” says CEO Khalid Duri.
Other examples of new companies contributing to the ecosystems and clusters in the region are ANDBio (platform for reuse of medical equipment), Booz Allen (cybersecurity services) and Aksa Power Generation (development and sales of energy generators). The largest project last year was the new Crocs distribution center in Dordrecht. With this distribution center, Crocs provides employment of 350 jobs, to further facilitate their growth in Western Europe.
1,268 jobs, €273.2 million in investments in regional and national economies
Attracting and retaining foreign investment is of great importance to the Netherlands and the Zuid-Holland region. It contributes to economic growth and creates employment. For example, the 43 foreign companies that were assisted in 2020, according to their own estimate, will create 1,268 jobs within three years, of which 815 are new and 453 jobs are retained. Moreover, these companies jointly invest €273.2 million in the region.
Geopolitical developments lead to a changed geomix
In the past year we have seen a further shift in the origin of the landed companies. Where most companies previously came from the United States and China, the United Kingdom is now also in joint first place with these countries. The English projects are often related to Brexit. The number of landings from both China and the US is lower than in recent years, mainly due to the (geo) political developments and the COVID pandemic. This year we saw various projects from emerging economies such as South Africa and Turkey. And a striking number of the projects come from near by, for example from Belgium.
Chris van Voorden, Head of Internationalisation at InnovationQuarter: “In the extensive contacts we have with international companies, we notice that the well-developed ecosystem in our region is playing an increasingly important role in the choice of location. That is why our services are not only about finding a suitable office or factory location, but much more about access to the right network, technology and talent – in addition to the market, of course. And that is what Zuid-Holland and InnovationQuarter has to offer companies more and more. The results for 2020 show that this pays off. ”
Switched quickly to increased online visibility and digital services
Due to international travel restrictions, it was not possible to visit companies abroad last year, to put the spotlight on Zuid-Holland. Also, it was often not possible to receive companies in the Netherlands. In response, the promotion and services were adapted early in the year to increase and professionalise the online presence. The online communication via social media was scaled up and our services to foreign companies were quickly digitized. This prompt switch in working methods contributed to the success of 2020.
Successful national and regional cooperation
The success can be attributed partly to good national and regional cooperation. At a national level, InnovationQuarter works closely with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) – an executive organization of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and partner in the Invest in Holland network.
At a regional level, InnovationQuarter collaborates on strategy and execution with Rotterdam Partners and The Hague Business Agency since 2014. In 2020, a cooperation agreement with DEAL Drecht Cities was concluded with regard to attracting foreign companies to the Drecht cities.
Chris van Voorden
Head of Internationalization