East Netherlands: Breeding ground for pioneers in technology

An entrepreneurial, practical and innovative spirit once made East Netherlands a pioneer in industrial applications of steam engine technology. Today, the same traits make the region a hotbed of companies that use the latest technology to meet 21st-century market demands.

  • Whether it is Artificial Intelligence, PhotonicsSemiconductors, Robotics, materials technology or intelligent combinations thereof, hundreds of high-tech companies and R&D organizations large and small call East Netherlands their home. They profit from the region’s multinational, multilingual and open-minded workforce, its prime geographic location, and its excellent physical and digital infrastructures.
  • Embedded in a community of like-minded innovation-driven entrepreneurs, new players quickly establish a foothold from which they can achieve new and sustainable growth. Oost NL is there to help them meet business needs: creating and adding value, growing revenue and reducing cost.

Exploit a fertile place for hightech entrepreneurs

Being in the middle of things helps, and East Netherlands is no exception. With four hightech-related business campuses, the region is a hot spot for entrepreneurs capitalizing on the latest technology.

  • Kennispark Twente (‘Knowledge Park Twente’) in the city of Enschede is the nation’s most established academic business campus, with about 1,000 companies spun off over the past 50 years. With 430 acres, it still is the country’s largest.
    Today, the Kennispark campus encompasses close to 400 companies, with about a hundred run by students. Through The Gallery, the country’s largest business incubator, about forty new companies are created each year.
  • A ‘High Tech Factory’ offers all those entrepreneurs shared production facilities for micro- and nanotech-based products.
  • Other high-tech campuses in the region are Polymer Science Park (Zwolle), High Tech Systems Park (Hengelo) and Noviotech Campus (Nijmegen), the last one housing a business incubator dedicated to semiconductors.

This bustling environment has helped to establish East Netherlands’ track record as a powerful generator of high-tech commerce. In all, an estimated 1,200 technology and materials-related companies now operate in the region. Among the big players are corporations such as AkzoNobel, Apollo Vredestein, Basf, Bayer, Benchmark, Cargill, DSM, Infor, NXP, Scania, Sensata, Siemens, Teijin, TenCate, Stork, and Thales.

An abundance of hightech knowledge organizations

East Netherlands’ many tech-related knowledge organizations include research universities, academic medical centers, research institutes, and universities of applied sciences. They offer companies in the region new ideas, a large and well prepared labor pool and access to the latest equipment and research infrastructures.

Research universities and medical centers

  • University of Twente (Enschede), a young, entrepreneurial engineering university, the core of Holland’s first innovative business campus. Its body of nearly 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students distinguishes itself for a highly entrepreneurial spirit. With about 3,800 staff, the university’s research focuses on areas that have major impacts on society: health, water, green energy, safety, and education. In high tech, the university recognizes labs-on-a-chip, sensor technologies, and new materials as key areas.
  • Radboud University (Nijmegen), a century-old general research university with over 24,500 undergraduate and graduate students and 5,600 staff. The university ranks in the top-75 globally in physical sciences; its renowned Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) works in hot areas such as molecular life-like systems, quantum matter, and materials design; it runs unique facilities such as a high field magnet lab, solid-state NMR spectroscopy, free-electron infrared laser, and trace gas detectors. Bioinformatics is another of the university’s key areas.

Research institutes

Proximity to high-end public and public/private technology research gives companies access to the latest knowledge, infrastructure and collaborative development projects. East Netherlands offers many such opportunities. To name a few:

  • MESA+, one of the world’s largest academic nanotechnology research facilities. About 550 knowledge workers (half of them PhD’s) take advantage of 1,250 square meters of state-of-the-art nanolab cleanroom facilities for groundbreaking research that combines physics, electrical engineering, computational sciences, chemistry, and biotechnology;
  • The Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT) is one of Europe’s biggest academic ICT institutes with about 400 researchers. CTIT is widely known for approaching ICT problems broadly, integrating behavioral science as well as electrical engineering and social sciences as well as computational science. Now focused on digital security, intelligent mobility, e-Health, robotics and ‘Big Data’, the institute generated over 100 spinoff companies in the last 15 years;
  • The MIRA Institute for biomedical technology and technical medicine occupies a unique space halfway between engineers and medical doctors. Its more than 300 researchers work with hospitals, industry and government to develop technology that is better adjusted to clinical practice because knowledge and needs of physicians are put front and center. Engineering students receive training in some medical interventions to advance the implementation of new technology. MIRA focuses on tissue regeneration, imaging and diagnostics, and neural and motor systems.

Universities of Applied Sciences

Approximately 100,000 (under)graduate students are trained at universities of applied sciences across the region, such as HAN, Saxion, and Windesheim. Many of those students are developing technology and ICT skills.

Dedicated government support

High-tech entrepreneurs in East Netherlands profit from government support at regional, national, and European levels.

  • At the European Union level, the presence of internationally acclaimed research institutes has brought millions of euros to public-private collaboration projects as part of the EU’s Framework Programmes.
  • In the Netherlands, five of the nine innovation priorities named by the national government directly relate to the high-tech sector. That guarantees enduring support and access to public funding for public-private R&D projects worth hundreds millions of euros annually.
  • Regional governments, i.e. the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel, also provide support in many ways, e.g. by supplying venture capital funding and business campus locations and by maintaining public-private knowledge network organizations.

Position yourself in the stable gateway to Europe

East Netherlands is very close to metropolitan economies, with Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the West and the German Ruhr District in the East. With that strategic location comes access to excellent physical and digital infrastructures that interconnect the region with major parts of Europe and the rest of the world.

In other words, they have the best of both worlds

  • Rotterdam is by far Europe’s largest sea port; several airports close by have direct flights to hundreds of global destinations. NDIX, a Dutch-German internet exchange, constitutes Europe’s largest open broadband network and offers R&D companies in the region super-speed connections.
  • Companies and their employees also enjoy excellent health care and education systems, as well as the political and social stability of a country that has ranked near the very top of the United Nations’ Human Development Index for many years in a row.
  • While close to major cities, employees and their families enjoy competitive real estate prices, a lack of congestion, and the natural beauty of forests and magnificent river deltas.

Oost NL: Ready to guide you in

Close collaboration with all the relevant regional players enables Oost NL to quickly guide any newcomer in — whether they are companies, employees or their families.

Companies can benefit from

  • experienced networking and Oost NL's matchmaking services. Those help them find partners within or even far outside the region, or participate in knowledge or facility sharing arrangements.
  • assistance in recruiting personnel, scouting potential business locations, or attracting outside investment.
  • Employees and their families get support in finding, for example, suitable housing and access to one of the many excellent international education opportunities.