High tech industries in the Netherlands are among the most innovative in the world, thanks to state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge research and development. Dutch technological know-how and products are much sought-after and are exported worldwide.
Cross-overs in technology and collaboration
The Netherlands’ centuries-old tradition of creativity, pragmatism, entrepreneurship, openness and collaboration forms a perfect fit for the High-Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM) sector. These qualities make the Netherlands the perfect place to find solutions to the challenges society is facing today in the areas of health and wellness, security, renewable energy, mobility and climate; solutions that, due to the complexity of the challenge, are primarily generated through cross-overs in technology and collaboration. Rapid innovation and collaboration across the value chain is imperative in this highly competitive and highly complex sector and a well-functioning network (‘ecosystem’) of specialised companies and institutions is crucial to achieving this. These ‘ecosystems’ or centres-of-excellence are located around the country with perhaps the most significant being Brainport region Eindhoven, in the Southeast of the Netherlands – voted World’s Most Innovative Region, in 2015. There are also strong concentrations of high-tech companies and universities in other parts of the Netherlands, such as around Twente and Delft. The high-tech sector includes a number of closely related industries including: the high-tech systems industries, automotive, aerospace and materials, including steel.
5 reasons why the Dutch high tech industry is vital to meeting the global challenges of today
1. The Dutch open, creative & entrepreneurial spirit
The Netherlands’ centuries-old tradition of creativity, pragmatism, entrepreneurship, openness and collaboration forms a perfect fit for the high-tech systems and materials (HTSM) sector. Examples of Dutch ingenuity range from the sawmill through to the screw pump, from the microscope through to the submarine, from the 6-cylinder engine through to the Variomatic and from navigation systems through to systems that transform waste and food crops into energy. These qualities make the Netherlands the perfect place to find solutions to the challenges society is facing today in the areas of health and wellness, security, renewable energy, mobility and the climate. Solutions that, due to the complexity of the challenge, are primarily found by cross-overs in technology and collaboration.
2. Technological excellence, a leader in the high tech market
The high tech sector includes a number of closely related industries including: the high-tech systems industries, automotive, aerospace and materials including steel. Dutch companies and knowledge institutes in the HTSM sector are renowned for their technological excellence and have become leaders in their market segments. Rapid innovation and collaboration across the value chain is imperative in this highly competitive and highly complex sector.
The Netherlands is strong in nanotechnology research. Dutch publications in nanotechnology are the most frequently cited by patents, compared to all other countries in the world. The country ranks 3rd in citation impact. The Netherlands is also world leader in designing, developing and making high tech equipment and micro/nano components. Characteristic features of this equipment are:
- highly intelligent (embedded systems, software, sensors);
- very precise (nano-electronics, high precision manufacturing), and
- highly efficient (mechatronics and smart electronics)
The Dutch high tech sector is all about ‘high value, high mix and high complexity.’ It generally focuses on niche markets, usually with small batch sizes, and differentiates itself on technological excellence.
3. A computer-savvy population
The Netherlands has a computer-savvy population and very high rates of computer/broadband penetration and mobile telephony use. The country’s IT infrastructure is second-to-none, with specialised networks powering global R&D efforts. This ecosystem has given rise to globally-competitive software developers, hardware companies and IT consultancies in areas such as business, simulation, mobility, healthcare and safety. Additionally, many companies develop computer games for all major platforms, the internet and mobile telephones. The Netherlands is a European leader in embedded systems and a world leader in micro-chip manufacturing equipment.
Some 70 per cent of innovation in the Netherlands is IT-related, enabling crucial developments in areas such as water management, food and cut-flowers, and automotive. A number of public-private partnerships, in which the government works closely with academia and the private sector, effectively push the boundaries in areas such as parallel computing, modelling, embedded systems, multimedia technologies and virtual laboratories.
4. Network of specialised companies and institutions & frontrunner in ‘open innovation’
A well-functioning network (‘ecosystem’) of specialised companies and institutions is crucial. An example, where much of the high-tech sector is concentrated, is Brainport region Eindhoven in the Southeast of the Netherlands. But in other parts of the Netherlands, such as around Twente and Delft, are also strong concentrations of high-tech companies and universities (Knowledge park Twente and Yes! Delft).
The Netherlands is a frontrunner in both public-private research and ‘open innovation’, with its Brainport region Eindhoven named ‘the world’s smartest region’ in 2011. It is an excellent example of how companies, research institutions and government can collaborate to foster knowledge and create innovative technology that sets standards across the globe. It has resulted in an intensive collaboration between OEMs, specialised suppliers and knowledge institutions.
5. Always keeping an eye on the future
Holland’s high tech sector is a world leader in the development of new technologies and materials for use in the communication systems of the future, the most economical and safest aircraft, hybrid and electric cars, the large-scale generation and storage of solar energy, but also advanced medical devices that can detect and treat diseases earlier and more effectively.