East Netherlands: the center of Cleantech and Energy

With about 1,400 companies and organizations working in the area of Cleantech and Energy, East Netherlands has become a valued incubator for more sustainable products, processes and services.

  • Cleantech and Energy (in Dutch: ‘energie- en milieutechnologie’ or EMT) spans a range of efforts aimed at making economies cleaner, greener, and more circular, with a focus on renewable energy, hydrogen, innovative fuel technologies, battery storage, smart grids and circular economy.
  • The rapidly growing field includes everything from shrinking carbon footprints through smarter energy production, conservation, and distribution, to reducing waste, depleting less natural resource, and emitting less chemicals into the environment.
  • East Netherlands has created a vibrant network of knowledge-driven international players. The network, with both private and public players, has made the region a catalyst for additional investments and innovations.

East Netherland’s strategic position, between major urban centers in Holland and Germany, contributed as well. So did its multilingual, multinational workforce, its low-cost business locations, and wholehearted support from governments at national and local levels. Oost NL welcomed most of the recent additions with tailored, hands-on support.

A growing club of Cleantech & Energy-related corporations

East Netherlands’ private players in Cleantech and Energy include everything from multinational corporations to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

At one end are global players such as

  • Akzo Nobel, BASF, Rabobank, Royal Haskoning, DHV, ABN AMRO, Tauw, Tempress and PWC. 

At the other end are smaller enterprises such as

  • HyET (improving fuel cell efficiency) and Vitens (supplying drinking water to 4 million people in Northeast Netherlands).
  • DNV GL, a Norway-based non-profit committed to driving the global transition toward a safe, reliable, efficient, and clean energy future, has 15,000 employees in 400 offices in 100 countries. Through DNV KEMA Laboratories (Arnhem), with close to 2,300 experts, the company has a strong East Netherlands presence.
  • Kiwa, an international provider of gas and water technology services, has more than 1,500 staff in over 40 countries. It is headquartered in the heart of East Netherlands.
  • These companies are just some examples of how the region has become an attractor for innovators in energy and environmental technology.

Tap into the region’s abundance of knowledge organizations

East Netherlands has many knowledge organizations working in Cleantech and Energy.

They include research universities and institutes and universities of applied sciences. Companies in the region gain access to fresh ideas, alumni and research infrastructures.

  • The Sustainable Electrical Energy Center of Expertise (SEECE), a public-private knowledge exchange, can serve as an example.
  • Supported by the HAN university of applied sciences, by energy distributing companies Alfen, Alliander and TenneT, by DNV KEMA, and by the non-profit KiEMT foundation, SEECE focuses on innovative concepts for decentralized power generation, power storage and smart grids.

East Netherlands research universities

  • Radboud University (Nijmegen), a century-old general research university, has 5,600 staff and over 24,500 undergraduate and graduate students. The university ranks in the top-75 globally in physical sciences and; it includes the renowned Radboud University Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM), which works on, for example, electron-correlated systems (such as solar cells), self-organizing molecules, and biomolecular systems in complex environments.
  • University of Twente (Enschede), a young, entrepreneurial engineering university, forms the core of Holland’s first innovative business campus. It has nearly 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 3,800 staff, who focus on areas that have major impacts on society: such as water security and green energy.
  • Wageningen University & Research, the largest agriculture research community in the world, ranks in the top-30 of life sciences universities globally. It has more than 7,200 staff and 13,200 undergraduate and graduate students from over 100 countries. About 1,600 researchers and PhD students are working in fields such as biorefinery, biobased chemicals and materials, bioenergy, water recycling and a circular economy.

Research institutes

  • Proximity to high-end public and public/private technology research gives companies access to the latest knowledge, infrastructure and collaborations. East Netherlands offers many such opportunities.
  • One example in energy and environmental technology is the Green Energy Initiative, a project of three leading research institutes related to University of Twente: MESA+ (focus on nanotechnology); the Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT, integrating ICT and social science); and the Institute for Innovation and Governance Studies (IGS, researching governance and management of technological and social innovation). At present, the Green Energy Initiative focuses on energy from biomass; ICT & smart grids; and advanced materials.

Universities of applied sciences

  • Approximately 100,000 (under)graduate students train at universities of applied sciences across the region, such as HAN, Saxion, and Windesheim. Many of them follow curricula directly related to energy and environmental technology.
  • In the Centre for Biobased Economy (CBBE), Wageningen UR works with other education organizations on training the biobased economy experts of the future.

Enjoy dedicated government support

Cleantech and Energy companies in East Netherlands benefit from government support at regional, national, and European levels.

  • In Europe, the presence of internationally acclaimed researchers and institutes helps to raise millions of euros for public-private collaboration projects through the EU’s Framework Programmes.
  • At the national level, the Dutch government has identified nine long-term innovation priorities, including ‘energy’, ‘water’, ‘logistics’, ‘chemistry’ and ‘high tech’. All of these are closely related to energy and environmental technology, which ensures long-term government support and hundreds of millions of euros in public funding for public-private R&D projects.
  • Regional governments have dedicated themselves to the transition to sustainable energy, with significant investments. The Energy Transition Project has labeled energy and environmental technology as a key growth sector for the region. Subsidy schemes support green innovation by SMEs.

Regional government also funds network organizations such as kiEMT, a public-private membership-based non-profit that brings together more than 200 members from government, industry, research and education. Members include Akzo Nobel, Alliander, DEKRA, Rabobank, Radboud University Nijmegen, Saxion, Twente University, and Wageningen UR. Through its GreenTechAlliances program, kiEMT strengthens the region’s position as a hotspot for energy and environmental technology with particular focus on a biobased economy, sustainable transportation, smart grids and solar energy.

Put yourself in the middle of the ‘Gateway to Europe’

East Netherlands is perfectly placed for Cleantech, Energy and Environmental Technology research, development and production.

Situated between two major urban areas —  Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the West and the German Ruhr District in the East — the region has excellent physical and digital infrastructures but ample agricultural, industrial and logistical space as well.

While nearby rail stations and airports offer quick connections to hundreds of global destinations, large stretches of farmland, business campuses and waterways are also readily available.

Companies, their employees and their families enjoy the best of many worlds: excellent health care and education, low real estate prices, no congestion, and the political and social stability of a country that has ranked near the very top of the United Nations’ Human Development Index for years in a row.

Oost NL stands ready to guide you in

  • Companies can get help in finding suitable partners within or outside the region (even at the other side of the world).
  • They can also participate in knowledge and facility sharing arrangements,
  • or get assistance with finding personnel, scouting business locations, or attracting outside investment.

Employees and their families can get support in finding suitable and affordable housing, as well as access to one of East Netherlands’ many excellent international education opportunities.