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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

Director Foreign Investments
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Invest in Holland results 2020

In 2020, the Netherlands managed to attract significantly fewer foreign companies than in previous years. This is evident from the annual results of Invest in Holland and the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) over 2020. Last year, 305 foreign companies, including Beyond MeatChargebee and Sekisui Polymatech, chose to set up shop in the Netherlands. These companies expect to create more than 8,600 direct jobs in the first three years and invest 1.9 billion euros in their projects. Although there is a constant flow of new companies as a result of Brexit, the coronavirus is causing the Netherlands to attract fewer foreign companies.

Foreign companies provide an important contribution to the Dutch Economy

Bas van ‘t Wout, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and responsible for the NFIA, emphasizes the importance of foreign businesses: “I am pleased with all the foreign companies that have opted for the Netherlands. These international companies make an important contribution to our economy. Our small and medium-sized businesses subsequently also profit as a supplier or customer. That is why we must continue to ensure that the Netherlands remains attractive for foreign companies. We will help investments in research, development, innovation and infrastructure through the National Growth Fund.”

Jeroen Nijland, NFIA Commissioner and Chairman of the Invest in Holland network: “2020 was a year with two stories. The Netherlands is well-positioned for international companies looking for a stable base to serve the European market; for example, companies relocating operations due to Brexit. At the same time, the number of wider inward investments did see a decrease. This effect can largely be explained by the global coronavirus crisis. If we want to invest ourselves out of the crisis, we need to sustain our business climate; especially to encourage sustainable enterprise and innovation in the Netherlands, that enables us to grow.”

Coronavirus crisis constrains results

Foreign business investment has been under pressure everywhere since the coronavirus pandemic. The global crisis and growing economic uncertainty, coupled with fluctuating travel restrictions and supply chain problems, are causing companies to be reluctant to open new offices.

In 2020 the Netherlands saw the number of foreign business investments decrease by about a quarter compared to 2019, while the number of created jobs fell by about 40 percent. An even stronger decline in investments is being tempered thanks to strong Dutch sectors such as Life Sciences & HealthIT and Agrifood. About one third of the foreign companies that choose the Netherlands come from Asia, one third from North and South America and one third from other parts of the world (Europe, Middle East, Africa and Oceania).

Invest in Holland results 2020 per country of origin

Brexit continues to play an important role

Even now that a Brexit deal has been concluded, the Netherlands remains popular to companies that are experiencing disruption due to Brexit – so called Brexit companies. Many companies in the United Kingdom are currently experiencing problems due to extra administration, procedures, delivery times and worsened access to the European market. In effect, the uncertainty of recent years has not disappeared. Due to this, the number of Brexit companies focusing on the Netherlands continues to grow. The NFIA is currently talking to 550 Brexit companies about a relocation or expansion to the Netherlands. This includes British companies, but also American and Asian parties that are reconsidering their current European structure due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit.

Not only are the amount of contacts continuing to grow, the number of Brexit companies that have opted for the Netherlands is also increasing. Since the referendum in June 2016, 218 Brexit companies have opted for the Netherlands, of which 78 again made the (partial) move last year. For example, Snag TightsCandy Hero and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia chose the Netherlands last year because of Brexit. These 218 companies together are expected to generate 6,000 jobs and 544 million euros in investments in the first three years after arrival.

Chris van Voorden

Director Foreign Investments
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Crocs expands its Main European Distribution Center in the Netherlands-980px

Crocs expands its Main European Distribution Center in the Netherlands-980px

American shoe manufacturer chooses the Dutch logistics hub of DistriPark Dordrecht for its largest European distribution center.

US-based shoe manufacturer Crocs is expanding its main European distribution center in the Dutch logistics sector. The globally known company recently broke ground for a 35,000 square meter distribution center at DistriPark Dordrecht, a new logistics business park in the Rotterdam – The Hague area. Expected to open in spring of 2021, the Dordrecht office will increase Crocs’ presence in the Netherlands, where the company has also located its European headquarters and marketing & sales operations.

Crocs decided to expand operations in the Netherlands to accommodate its growth plans for selling shoes, sandals and clogs across Europe. The company plans to use the new distribution center at DistriPark for storage for its online store, as well as for supplying store branches and handling returns.

“When we took a look around, Dordrecht turned out to be the best location for our company because of the good transport connections,” said Adrian Holloway, Crocs’ Senior Vice President and General Manager of the EMEA Region.

Hundreds of New Jobs

The arrival of Crocs will create approximately 200 to 350 new jobs in Dordrecht – ranked No. 12 in Logistiek’s 2020 Logistics Hotspot of the Year Election. With other companies like Dylan Steel Solutions also announcing their relocation to DistriPark, the Dutch logistics hub is expected to generate at least 1,400 jobs for Dordrecht and the surrounding Drechsteden region.

A Foothold in the Dutch Logistics Sector

By expanding to the energy-neutral DistriPark, Crocs joins a growing number of international companies that have invested distribution operations in the highly innovative and resilient Dutch logistics sector. The logistics business park’s strategic location between the Port of Rotterdam, Port of Moerdijk and other major seaports promises to attract even more companies. In addition, DistriPark offers access to the Netherlands’ top-notch road transport infrastructure via the A16 motorway.

“Certainly in today’s economically uncertain times, the speed of this development is a very positive signal. The fact that an appealing international name such as Crocs has opted for Dordrecht and the Drechtsteden region indicates that we have everything we need to meet the needs of logistics companies,” said Maarten Burggraaf, Alderman of Economic Affairs for Dordrecht.

Source: Logistiek (Dutch)

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Applications for the Corona Bridging Loan (COL) are still flooding in. Since 29 April, 1,507 startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs have lodged applications for COLs. The total requested comes to €540 million. By now 311 applications – for some €100 million in total – have been approved, with around 50% of the applications still being processed.

On Wednesday 20 May, the Dutch government announced that, on top of an earlier tranche of €100 million, another €150 million will be made available for startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs. As the large number of applications confirms, this is sorely needed. Businesses can apply for a COL of €50,000 or more, at favourable conditions. The loans are provided by the Regional Development Agencies (RDA’s).

AppThis Group from Enschede was the first business in the east of the Netherlands to receive a COL. “We’re using the loan to make up for the reduction in turnover and to make the latest product adjustments related to the 1.5 metre conditions our clients have had to implement,” says Arjan Zwarteveen, who runs the company with Andreas Weber.

Qlayers in Delft also received a COL. Founder and CEO Josefien Groot:

“The COL is a perfect fit with the type of business we are: an innovative startup with high costs relative to revenue. The COL will allow us to complete our product development and bring it to the market on schedule.”

More information on the COL applications to date

Almost three-quarters of the applications are for smaller requests of €250,000 or less. However, 23% of the applications are from scale-ups and these account for around half of the €540 million total requested. All applicants together represent more than 15,000 jobs.

Over a third of the innovative companies that have submitted an application operate in the soft tech field (platform, SaaS, AI), but there have also been many applications from businesses in medtech, life sciences, cleantech and high tech.

About COL

The Corona Bridging Loan (COL) is an emergency loan for innovative entrepreneurs and SMEs who do not have a credit facility with a bank and are facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. The scheme was established in close co-operation between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, the various Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and TechLeap.nl, with close involvement from Invest-NL. At the Ministry’s request, the RDAs provide bridging loans of between €50,000 and €2 million.

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On 7 April, the Dutch government announced that it would make €100 million available in bridging loans for start-ups, scale-ups, and innovative SMEs. These companies can submit an application for a Coronavirus Bridging Loan (COL) from 29 April. This facility was developed as part of an intensive collaboration between the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, joint regional development corporations and TechLeap.nl, and with the close involvement of Invest-NL.


Loans under favourable conditions

The government has asked the regional development corporations to grant these bridging loans under favourable conditions. These loans range between €50,000 and €2 million. Shareholders or other investors are expected to co-finance 25% of loans above €250,000.

A uniform interest rate of 3% will be payable on these loans, and the terms will be tailored to the target group. More information on the conditions is available at Q&A. The goal is to assess and deal with applications for less than €500,000 within four to nine working days and to reach a definitive decision on applications for more than €500,000 within three working weeks.

More information on the criteria and the application procedure is available at www.rom-nederland.nl/corona-overbruggingslening.
The COL must be seen as an emergency measure implemented in response to the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. This means that businesses must be able to demonstrate that, although they need a loan in the current economic crisis, they nevertheless have fundamentally sustainable and healthy prospects. Businesses must also have implemented the cost-reduction measures that may reasonably be expected of them at present.

Infographic Corona-OverbruggingsLening

Supplementary measures for start-ups and scale-ups

Start-ups and scale-ups are being hit hard by the coronavirus crisis: an inventory made by Techleap.nl revealed that 55% of businesses are faced with a fall in demand because they are losing existing customers or not winning new customers. Attracting the necessary new funding in the current conditions is a problem for this group, as start-ups, scale-ups, and other businesses without bank financing can at best make only limited use of measures previously announced by the government focused on companies with loan capital.

Ms Mona Keijzer, State Secretary for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, explains that

‘the government intends to make financial support more accessible to all businesses in these exceptional and difficult times. Start-ups and scale-ups are of great importance to the future of economy and our society: they provide tomorrow’s income and jobs, and their innovative products and services contribute to solving global challenges including, for example, the coronavirus crisis. This is why the government is now investing 100 million euros in bridging loans that will enable our growth businesses to get through these difficult months.’

Applications can be submitted from 29 April

Applications can be submitted to a special online portal from 9:00 AM on Wednesday 29 April. Only complete applications submitted online will be processed. Applications for funding to a maximum of € 5 million can also be submitted to this portal, which was developed in cooperation with TechLeap.nl. These will be examined jointly by Invest-NL and the regional development corporations.


We can quite understand that businesses and investors will have questions about the Coronavirus Bridging Loan. We have drawn up a comprehensive Q&A with all the details of the Coronavirus Bridging Loan.

Banner Corona-OverbruggingsLening

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Extensive national and international measures have been taken in recent days to limit the further spread of the coronavirus. More and more companies are feeling the consequences of the virus and the measures taken. There is an acute drop in demand, there are supply problems and, above all, a lot of uncertainty. What are the short and long term effects for your company?

We would like to inform you about the measures we have taken at InnovationQuarter.

External and internal communication

Everyone’s health comes first. That is why we have not been working from our office since last Friday, March 12.

However, we try to keep in touch with our relations and stakeholders, and with each other as much as possible. We use digital communication, such as tele or video conferencing. Our organization is well prepared and equipped for this.


All our physical events and meetings for the coming period (at least until the end of April) are cancelled or postponed. Where possible, we reorganize events and appointments to take place virtually.


The three funds IQCapital, ENERGIIQ and UNIIQ invest in innovative startups and scale-ups. Our portfolio companies are often in a phase where there is insufficient financial resources available to withstand major fluctuations that a Covid-19 outbreak may entail. During this period we are in extra close contact with our portfolio companies to answer questions and think about solutions.

Currently, our teams at all three funds are conducting an assessment on our portfolio companies to:

  1. Create awareness and dialogue with our portfolio companies about this outbreak,
  2. Obtain insight into the possible implications for business operations,
  3. Obtain insight into the possible implications for income, and
  4. Obtain insight into which mitigating measures have been taken or should be taken.

The results will be incorporated into a risk matrix for our entire portfolio. An action plan will then be drawn up for each company. In addition, we are in contact with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, fellow Regional Economic Development Agencies in the Netherlands, TechLeap and others to see which suitable additional support measures can be taken for startups and scale-ups.


International business travel has virtually stalled. We also no longer make international trips. As a result, the number of incoming and outgoing international delegations, missions and so-called fact findings from companies is currently zero. We maintain virtual and digital contact with our foreign relations and companies as much as possible. We are able to help you set up a strategy for your exportmarkets and connect you to our network.

A new English website has recently been launched, which contains a lot of relevant information about our region. We refer our international relations to this website (www.investinrotterdamthehaguearea.org). We are also currently organizing digital fact findings for various foreign companies. Furthermore, we focus our activities mainly on Investor Relations (maintaining contacts with foreign companies already established in our region).

Innovation and collaboration

We are working together on a future-proof economy in the Greater Rotterdam The Hague area by building innovative ecosystems, programs, projects and business cases.

In the light of the current situation, our core task of innovation sees reluctance to enter into new partnerships, pilots and projects. Many events and introductions have understandably been postponed, because entrepreneurs currently have different priorities. We will remain in close contact with our relations and in the coming weeks, we will focus in particular on continuing existing projects and supporting entrepreneurs with specific questions.


The most up-to-date answers to questions from entrepreneurs can be found at business.gov.nl. But we are also happy to help you. Please contact one of our colleagues directly via the details here. Or send an email to info@innovationquarter.nl.

In the coming period, we will be even more driven than ever to work on stronger, smarter and healthier, greater Rotterdam The Hague area.

As Prime Minister Rutte said, “Together we will overcome this difficult period.”

Kind regards,

Rinke Zonneveld

Rinke Zonneveld

Director InnovationQuarter
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In 2019, InnovationQuarter helped a record number of 56 domestic and foreign companies set up or expand in the greater Rotterdam – The Hague area. Last year, our region attracted mainly high-tech firms like DuPont Industrial Biosciences, IDE Group and Cybexer. In addition, another big company, Zalando, opened a large distribution centre. The 56 companies will over the next three years generate more than 2,700 jobs and invest €424 million in the region. These results represent an all-time high in InnovationQuarter’s six-year history.

Life sciences, high-tech, IT and cyber security strongly represented

In the past year, we welcomed mainly leading-edge, technologically advanced companies to the greater Rotterdam – The Hague region. A notable development was the large number of firms in the life sciences and health (LSH) sector. While most of these companies were newcomers that set up business in the region, some expanded their existing facilities or activities. These organisations operate in both medical technology as well as in biopharmaceuticals. Several companies that provide services to others in the LSH sector, such as the use of AI in medicine research, also established themselves here.

Many IT and high-tech companies expressed growing interest in setting up in our region too. Other leading clusters in our region also continued to attract attention: the cyber security cluster of The Hague Security Delta, the horticulture cluster in Westland and, more recently, the region’s aerospace cluster, which is attracting increasing interest. Both startups and established businesses seek to join these strong sectoral clusters and are attracted by the availability of talent in our region.

Merle Maigre, executive vice president for government relations at Estonian cyber security company Cybexer: “This region possesses a high level of knowledge and expertise. It attracts a lot of talent and the Dutch government is highly experienced.” Maigre considers the support of InnovationQuarter and The Hague Security Delta to be extremely valuable for accessing relevant networks and information about the local ecosystem.

Murray Davidson is chief technology officer at Cybexer and regards The Hague as a key security hub: “In this respect, the Netherlands and Estonia are a perfect match. Both countries have an outstanding reputation in cyber security and are very mature and forward thinking in this area.”

Here you can read the full interview (dutch).

New geopolitical reality and changing geo-economic landscape

In 2019, there was a sharp rise in investment projects from the UK, partly due to ongoing concerns surrounding Brexit. Before, most of the companies we assisted were from the US and China, but last year the UK assumed the leading position. There was also an increase in the number of investment projects from other countries, such as India, Turkey and South Africa; these projects are becoming more diverse. We are seeing an increase in applications from Israel and Japan as well. There are various reasons for these trends, such as political uncertainty and the fact that many countries are experiencing renewed economic growth.

Scaling up international marketing, promotion and appropriate services

To put the greater Rotterdam – The Hague area more prominently on the international map, we launched the website investinrotterdamthehaguearea.org at the end of 2019. We will scale up marketing efforts during 2020 to attract even more companies. This will strengthen the clusters in our region, create high-quality jobs and bring in investments.

Chris van Voorden, head of foreign investments at InnovationQuarter:

“We see, in our extensive contacts with international companies, that they are increasingly looking for a well-developed ecosystem. Our services therefore focus not only on finding a suitable office or factory location but, more importantly, on accessing the right network, technology and talent – and, of course, the market. And this is precisely what the greater Rotterdam – The Hague region and InnovationQuarter can, to an ever greater extent, offer these companies. Indeed, the results for 2019 show that this is a winning strategy.”

Results vital to both regional and national economies

Attracting and retaining foreign investment is of great importance to both the Netherlands and the greater Rotterdam – The Hague area, not least in terms of economic growth and job creation. The 56 foreign companies supported in 2019, for example, will, by their own estimate, provide 2,810 jobs within three years: 2,764 of them new and 46 retained. In addition, these firms are jointly investing €424.2 million in the region.

Successful national and regional cooperation

Strong national and regional collaboration is part of the reason for the success of these 56 investment projects. At the national level, InnovationQuarter works closely with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) – an operational unit of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy – and is a partner of the Invest in Holland network.

At the regional level, InnovationQuarter has worked with Rotterdam Partners and The Hague Business Agency on both strategic and operational levels since 2014.

Want to know more?

Please contact us.

Chris van Voorden

Director Foreign Investments
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More and more companies are opting for the Netherlands because of Brexit. Even now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, and has entered a transition period, uncertainty about the economic new relation and the now unforeseen effects on international business remains. As such, the Brexit-related work of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) and its regional partners is still increasing. 140 Brexit companies have now chosen for our country since the Brexit referendum. 78 of these 140 companies made their decision in 2019. Media companies Discovery and Ridley Scott, credit rating agency AMBest and Life Sciences & Health manufacturer Shionogi were amongst the companies choosing the Netherlands because of Brexit. Together, these 140 companies expect to create more than 4,200 direct jobs and 375 million euros in investments in the first three years.

The 78 companies that opted for the Netherlands because of Brexit are an important part of the 2019 annual results of Invest in Holland. A total of 397 international companies chose to move to or expand in the Netherlands last year. These companies expect to create more than 14,000 direct jobs and invest 4.3 billion euros in the first three years.

More companies are looking into a Brexit-related transfer

The number of Brexit companies that are focusing on the Netherlands still continues to grow. The NFIA is talking to 425 Brexit companies about a switch or expansion to our country, up to 175 from the beginning of 2019. This includes British companies, but also American and Asian parties that are reconsidering their current European structure due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit. Each of these companies has unique concerns about access to the European Market. This may involve the possible barriers to trade or off specific products or services, administrative barriers or extra procedures, access to international talent for research & development or the loss of European innovation funds.

Jeroen Nijland, NFIA Commissioner and Chairman of the Invest in Holland collective: “2020 will be an important year for these companies. Much will depend on the specifics of the future arrangements in the relation between the UK and the EU. The impact of this will vary from sector to sector and the pressure to reach agreements will be high this year. We see that uncertainty is still increasing at many companies. They are waiting to make investment decisions until more is known about the impact of these new economic agreements on their business operations. On the other hand, more and more companies are not waiting. They opt for the certainty and security on the European Market that the Netherlands offers instead. With an English-speaking population, the excellent connections to the UK and the EU by road, boat, train and plane and our strong digital infrastructure, choosing the Netherlands is an attractive alternative.”

Keeping access to the European Market from the Netherlands

The companies mostly find their origins in the services sector, for example Fintech, IT, and the Media & Advertising industry. They choose our country because of necessary EU permits, access to the European market and the ability to attract European talent. This includes European headquarters, research & development facilities and service centres. Given the nature and activity of these companies, the majority opt for the Randstad near Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht. Nineteen companies from the Life Sciences & Health sector have opted for the Netherlands due to Brexit. The arrival of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is often part of the reason for choosing our country.

NFIA Commissioner Nijland: “Although Brexit is difficult to predict in the short term, we know for sure that this will have major consequences in the long term. Brexit is and remains an undesirable development, certainly for the Netherlands. But with the continuing uncertainty, it is understandable that internationally operating companies are looking for alternatives on the European Market that offer them prospects in terms of goods, services, personnel and capital. The Netherlands offers a stable port in turbulent times for the international economy.”

Chris van Voorden

Director Foreign Investments
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©Erik Borst

The official launch of Invest-NL takes place today in Amsterdam in the presence of Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra and Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Eric Wiebes. As a private company led by Wouter Bos, Invest-NL will provide financing to companies that will make the Netherlands more sustainable and more innovative. With a share capital of 1.7 billion euros, Invest-NL’s focus at launch is on the energy transition and on innovative, fast-growing companies (scale-ups).

In the context of the energy transition, Invest-NL is focusing particularly on electrification and energy, circularity, agrifood and the built environment. When it comes to innovative scale-ups, the focus will primarily be on industrial technologies. Invest-NL intends to expand the market and provide financial backing for what once seemed unbackable. Alongside a willingness to take significant risks, Invest-NL is also prepared to invest large amounts with long maturities. Impact is paramount for Invest-NL: without impact there can be no financing.

More risk capital available

Market parties in the Netherlands have difficulty financing major societal transitions. They face challenges to handle the high degree of uncertainty in terms of policy and technology, the multiplicity of stakeholders and the fragmentation of initiatives with relatively high learning and transaction costs. Moreover, various studies have shown that, relatively speaking, there is less risk capital available for young high-growth companies in the Netherlands compared to countries such as Germany, the UK or the US.

Finally, Dutch companies have thus far been less successful at obtaining funding from European investment funds and facilities compared to competitors in other countries, where the requisite venture capital is made available to companies by specific national funds and/or banks. The launch of Invest-NL means that the Netherlands now also has its own, comparable fund.

In line with parliamentary decisions and based on research, Invest-NL has decided to prioritise the financing of scale-ups and the energy transition. Entrepreneurs and financiers can visit the Invest-NL website (invest-nl.nl), where they can answer five questions to discover if their business plan may be eligible for financing by Invest-NL.

Far-reaching ambitions

Wouter Bos, CEO of Invest-NL: “We have far-reaching ambitions at Invest-NL: our aim is to quadruple the amount of risk capital available for the energy transition within five years.We want to ensure that young, innovative companies here can scale up as successfully as they do in Germany and the UK, which means the Netherlands needs to become twice as effective in this regard as it is today.

Eric Wiebes, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy: “With Invest-NL we show that the great changes around energy and climate can go hand in hand with making a profit. Invest-NL’s financing and development power gets companies going and contributes to employment and economic growth in the Netherlands.”

Wopke Hoekstra, Minister of Finance: ”I am very proud of what we are achieving here. It is not common for a government to set up a state participation. And its objective is important: Invest-NL’s activities strenghten our innovative economy and contribute to the transition towards a sustanaible society.”

Rinke Zonneveld

Director InnovationQuarter
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The Maryland Department of Commerce and InnovationQuarter, the regional economic development agency for the greater Rotterdam-The Hague area, have officially renewed their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote general cooperation and coordination between the entities over the next three years.

The agreement was signed by Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz and InnovationQuarter director of foreign investments Chris van Voorden today in Baltimore.

The renewal will help strengthen Maryland and the greater Rotterdam-The Hague area’s relationship as they continue to foster economic development and investment in the two regions, especially as it relates to cybersecurity. The MOU encourages the hosting of delegations in both Maryland and the greater Rotterdam-The Hague area, promoting the regions’ exchange programs, collaborating on webinars for cybersecurity companies interested in expanding their global outreach, and potential opportunities for matchmaking and networking at trade shows around the world.

“The state of Maryland’s partnership with the greater Rotterdam-The Hague area provides great opportunities for governmental collaboration across the Atlantic,” said Secretary Schulz. “By collaborating on research and development, supporting each other’s companies, and encouraging growth in education, we can make sure that both of our regions continue to thrive for years to come.”Back in 2016, the state signed a three-year agreement with InnovationQuarter, which established the soft-landing program for Dutch companies looking to explore the Maryland market and vice versa. The program, which was the first of its kind in Maryland, provides incubation and mentorship services for participating companies.

“We welcome security tech companies to make use of this wonderful program. They can come for a week or even stay for three consecutive months,” van Voorden said at the signing.

The following year, Maryland Commerce welcomed five Netherlands cyber companies to the bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park for their month-long stay as they explored the U.S. as a permanent location. Additionally that year, four Maryland cyber firms travelled overseas to facilitate their entry into the European market as part of the bilateral exchange program.

The program is still on-going between the two entities; companies interested in learning more can contact Andrew Kreinik, Maryland Commerce’s regional manager for Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

With more than 116,000 IT and cybersecurity professionals in the state, Maryland is where cyber works. Learn more about how we are a gateway for international business.

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In the summer of 2019, Zalando will start construction on its first Dutch fulfillment center in an existing business park in Bleiswijk, near Rotterdam. With the further expansion of its logistics network, Zalando is setting the ground for its 2023/24 growth target and the promise to continuously improve its customer proposition. The Bleiswijk fulfillment center will cater to customers in Western Europe, namely the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. Zalando was assisted with the site selection by InnovationQuarter and the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency.

Jan Bartels, SVP Customer Fulfillment says, “A strong logistics network is the foundation for realizing our growth strategy and the vision of becoming the Starting Point for Fashion. By constructing a new state-of-the-art fulfillment center in Bleiswijk, we are confident that this is an important step forward in building the infrastructure to achieve 20 billion euros in Gross Merchandise Volume by 2023/2024.”

The site will have a floor area of 140,000 square meters and a total storage capacity of 16 million items. The first parcels are set to be delivered from Bleiswijk in the summer of 2021. About 1,500 jobs will be created in the mid-term. The development is being undertaken by a joint venture of Somerset Capital Partners and USAA Realco-Europe. Once the fulfillment center is ramped up to full speed, Zalando aims to reduce delivery lead times in Benelux markets.

Kenneth Melchior, Director Northern Europe adds: “The Benelux markets play an integral role in the growth ambition of Zalando. Over the next five years we aim to more than double revenues in this region, thereby strengthening our position as market leader. The opening of our fulfillment center in Bleiswijk is crucial in enabling this growth. We look forward to enhancing our customer proposition by reducing delivery lead times in the Benelux area and introducing services like next and same-day delivery once Bleiswijk is fully operational.”

Justin Hildebrandt, Managing Director of USAA Realco-Europe says, “We are excited and honoured to realize this fulfillment center for Zalando. The building’s innovative and forward-looking design and scale as one of the largest single occupier logistics developments in the Netherlands was the vision that we have had for this project, and Zalando was the ideal occupier to complete this vision.”

Tim Beckmann, partner Somerset Capital Partners: “We are very pleased that Zalando has chosen us for this great logistics development. This fulfillment center will be unique for its kind. The whole development will be done to the highest standards of sustainability and it will revitalize the business park that previously housed Royal FloraHolland’s flower auction activities. It provides us with a unique opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities in the area of logistics real estate (re)development.”

Investments and Location Choice

Zalando will invest 200 million euros in the center’s intralogistics. The fulfillment center will have the highest level of automation within Zalando’s network, which currently consists of nine fulfillment centers spread across Europe. The high degree of automation will take physically demanding tasks from employees, while increasing the service level for our customers.

Zalando has chosen Bleiswijk in the municipality of Lansingerland because of its location, the opportunity to invest into an existing business park with a well-developed infrastructure, and good collaboration with local authorities in Lansingerland. The proximity to the A12 highway and being in the heart of the densely populated Randstad region fit Zalando’s ambition to be close to its customers perfectly.

BREEAM certification

For the construction of the fulfillment center, Zalando has the ambition to invest in sustainable solutions and will, for example, install solar panels on the roof of the building. In this context, Zalando strives to achieve the ‘very good’ score of the sustainability certification BREEAM-NL. Operations in the facility will be managed by an independent partner, whose selection will happen through tender.

Loek Becker Hoff

Loek Becker Hoff

Senior Account Manager Energy & Circular
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In 2018, 115 foreign companies opened an office or expanded their business in West Holland with the assistance of regional acquisition partners. These firms are expected to provide in excess of 2,600 jobs and to invest a total of 278 million euros in the region. Since 2014, The Hague Business Agency, Rotterdam Partners and InnovationQuarter have been actively collaborating to place the region in the global spotlight and to attract and support foreign companies. This has paid off: 26% of international companies that set up business in the Netherlands last year chose West Holland.

United States and China strongly represented

Most of the foreign companies that made a new or an expansion investment in West Holland in 2018 came from China (23) and the USA (22). This is in line with the trend of recent years with the majority of firms hailing from these two countries.

Chinese companies that established themselves in West Holland during 2018 include Genscript (biomedical firm with European branch in Leiden), Oppo (smartphones in Rotterdam) and Newtrend Group (biochemicals in The Hague).

Major names from the US that set up in or expanded into West Holland include GE Healthcare (new office in Rotterdam), Microsoft (Quantum Lab in Delft) and Synergy International Systems (Tech for Good in The Hague).

The figures for 2018 also reveal that companies from ‘new’ countries are coming to the region. For example, the strong growth in the number of firms from India and Turkey is striking. Eight companies from each country chose West Holland as their base in the Netherlands.

New sectors: ‘Next’ and ‘Impact’ Economy

Also noteworthy is the growing presence of firms active in the Next Economy. This includes a significant number of young tech companies that have made West Holland their home due to the region’s strong innovation ecosystem.

No fewer than 34 of the 115 newly established foreign firms in 2018 operate in the high-tech and IT sectors, followed by 14 in life sciences and health, 13 in the energy sector and 11 in agro and food.

We also see many new businesses (12) active in the so-called ‘Impact Economy’; companies that are working on making the world a better, safer and fairer place.

Investor Relations Programme: 298 companies visited

In addition to attracting new companies, The Hague Business Agency, Rotterdam Partners and InnovationQuarter also actively support foreign firms already established in the region.

This is part of the national Investor Relations Programme, which is co-funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Rotterdam-The Hague Metropolitan Region and the Province of South Holland. In 2018, the three acquisition partners visited a total of 298 companies through the programme.

Successful collaboration on acquisition in West Holland

Attracting and retaining foreign investment is of great importance to the Netherlands and the West Holland region, not least in terms of economic growth and job creation. The 115 international companies succesfully assisted in 2018, for example, will by their own estimate create 2,108 new jobs within three years and secure 535 existing jobs. In addition, these firms are jointly investing 278 million euros in the region.

The 115 investment projects are the result of a joint effort by the regional agencies Rotterdam Partners, The Hague Business Agency and InnovationQuarter in association with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), an operational unit of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. The acquisition partners have been collaborating closely since 2014, both strategically and operationally, and have achieved great success. In 2018, 26% of all foreign companies* that established themselves in the Netherlands opted for West Holland, well above the region’s share in the national economy. In 2014, it was 20%.


* This concerns the projects completed by Rotterdam Partners, The Hague Business Agency and InnovationQuarter in collaboration with the NFIA (Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency).

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Nederland 2e plaats innovatiefste landen ter wereld

Nederland 2e plaats innovatiefste landen ter wereld

The Netherlands has climbed one spot to the no. 2 ranking in the 2018 Global Innovation Index (GII). Switzerland retained its number-one spot and rounding out the top ten are: Sweden, the United Kingdom, Singapore, United States of America, Finland, Denmark, Germany and Ireland.

Each year, the GII surveys some 130 economies using dozens of metrics that provide a high-level look at innovative activity. Its 81 indicators explore political environment, education, infrastructure, and business sophistication. The GII is co-authored by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University and French graduate business school INSEAD.

Holland’s triple helix approach scores strongly

The GII attributes Holland’s second-place ranking to its “strong, interlinked business sector that collaborates well with universities.” It also emphasized the fact that Holland’s business sector is internationalized via IP licensing exports.

In addition to ranking No. 2 overall on the GII, the Netherlands ranks first in the following categories: logistics performance, cluster development, knowledge and technology outputs, and creative outputs.

Eleven of the top 20 ranking countries are from Europe. In 2018, China broke into the top-20 ranking for the first time while the USA dropped back two places to no. 6.

Nederlands 2e plaats innovatiefste landen ter wereld

The importance of climate-friendly innovation

The theme of the 2018 GII edition is “Energizing the World with Innovation,” looking at the need for expanded innovative work in climate-friendly green technology amid rising energy demands worldwide.

“Innovation is clearly necessary to address the energy/environment equation, but let us keep in mind that such innovation cannot be only technological,” said Bruno Lanvin, INSEAD Executive Director for Global Indices. “New social, economic and business models are required, including through efforts to promote smart cities, mobility solutions based on shared vehicles – and a global citizenry with better information on the impacts of various energy policies.”

About the GII

Published annually since 2007, the GII is now a leading benchmarking tool for business executives, policy makers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world. Policymakers, business leaders and other stakeholders use the GII to evaluate progress on a continual basis.

Source: WIPO

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Drecht Cities International

CEO Rientz Willem Bol (left) explains Bolidt’s transition plan to international companies from the Drecht Cities region

An impulse for international interaction

In addition to a number of local executives, the group consisted mostly of directors of foreign-owned companies from the Drecht Cities region and Dutch companies with a large international footprint. The aim was to promote interaction among these companies and to improve contacts with local and regional government.

After short introductions from Drecht Cities, InnovationQuarter and Deal, the CEO of Bolidt, mr.  Rientz Willem Bol, gave an insight into the ambitious plans he is carrying out to prepare his company for the future. A four-year transition plan is currently underway and causes an notable cultural change within the company. According to Bol, the company must abandon its’ traditional ways of operating, to stay ahead of global competition. Therefore Bolidt is now focusing on a future in which co-creation, innovation and customer experience are key, with the highlight being the completion of an Experience & Innovation Center in the spring of 2019.

The enthusiasm of mr. Bol inspired and motivated some of the participants to implement his fresh ideas within their own organizations. In addition, relevant business contacts were made during the networking part afterwards.

The international ecosystem in Drecht Cities

The Drecht Cities region is home to around 150 companies that are owned by foreign multinationals. In addition, hundreds of Dutch companies from this region are active in international markets and many SMEs and startups have international ambitions. Drecht Cities, InnovationQuarter and Deal assist regional businesses with their internationalization goals, for example by organizing international trade missions. In addition, InnovationQuarter and Deal actively attract new (foreign) companies to this region in order to draw new investments and create more jobs.

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InnovationQuarter Jaarverslag 2017, de TerugblIQ

More collaboration and more implementation strength

Collaboration has been key to the success of InnovationQuarter since its inception in 2014. As the regional development agency for West Holland, InnovationQuarter works to strengthen the innovation eco system by working with companies, knowledge institutions, cluster and delta organisations and incubators, as well as financiers and investors, top sectors and government agencies. The aim is a West Holland ecosystem that helps parties to find each other easily, stimulates cross-pollination between the strong regional clusters, facilitates the growth of innovative firms and attracts foreign companies.

InnovationQuarter was evaluated in mid-2017. The evaluation report concluded: “With the arrival of InnovationQuarter, our implementation strength in terms of structurally strengthening the economy and stimulating innovation has increased considerably, and collaboration in West Holland has grown rapidly.”

More results

InnovationQuarter exceeded its ambitious objectives for 2017 in all areas.

  • InnovationQuarter Business Development achieved 56 business cases and innovation projects with an investment volume of €23 million. InnovationQuarter worked with several hundred companies on these partnerships. These were often trend-setting, cross-sectoral projects focusing on the transition to the ‘next economy’.
  • InnovationQuarter Foreign Investments helped 50 foreign companies to establish themselves, move to or expand in the region. Within three years, these enterprises expect to create 1,204 extra jobs in West Holland and invest an additional €78.4 million. Since InnovationQuarter started out in 2014, the number of foreign companies landing in West Holland has increased by no less than 76% (*), partly due to the joint efforts of our acquisition partners.
  • InnovationQuarter Capital invested in 23 companies during 2017. While IQCapital was responsible for 14 investments, UNIIQ funded the other nine. As a result of these investments, the amount of additional capital attracted to the region was €44.6 million. The companies in the agency’s portfolio expect to create 348 extra jobs over the next three years. What is remarkable is that IQCapital and UNIIQ were the most active investment funds in the Netherlands in 2017. Moreover, ENERGIIQ, the West Holland energy innovation fund, was launched in September 2017.

In addition, InnovationQuarter not only supports entrepreneurs based in the region to achieve their internationalisation ambitions but also serves as the link between the ‘top sector policy’ of the national government and the regional business community. Moreover, InnovationQuarter presents West Holland as a unique delta region, a 24/7 real-life testing ground for promising innovations.

“In everything we do as a regional development agency, we try to maximise our added value. We do this by drawing on the combined strength of various networks, knowledge sources and expertise”, says Rinke Zonneveld, director of InnovationQuarter. “This means we are more than a connector and a catalyst, more than an acquisition agency and more than an investor!”


Jaarverslag InnovationQuarter 2017: Meer samenwerking, meer uitvoeringskracht, meer resultaat in Zuid-Holland

Shareholders InnovationQuarter receive the first copy of TerugblIQ, the InnovationQuarter 2017 Annual Report.

Roadmap to the Next Economy

InnovationQuarter’s annual report gives a voice to entrepreneurs who make use of high-impact, leading-edge technologies: business people at the forefront of innovation and for whom collaboration is key for the future.

Rinke Zonneveld: “In light of our ambition to tackle important social issues in fields such as healthcare, security and energy, these are the entrepreneurs we like to help. This enables us to bring the ‘next economy’ closer within our region. This year, InnovationQuarter and our many partners will provide a strong boost in this area by assuming responsibility for launching the Roadmap for the Next Economy.”

* This concerns the projects completed by the regional acquisition agencies Rotterdam Partners, The Hague Busines Agency and InnovationQuarter in collaboration with the NFIA (Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency).

TerugblIQ – InnovationQuarter 2017 Annual Report

Curious about our results? View the InnovationQuarter 2017 Annual Report below (in Dutch). Would you like to receive a hard copy of the Annual Report? Send an email with your contact details to: communicatie@innovationquarter.nl.