Life Sciences & Health

The average life expectancy of people in the Netherlands is about 81 years. Research also suggests the Netherlands has the tallest people and happiest children in the world. Our 150 year old healthcare system is accessible for everyone and known throughout the globe. With strong links between industry and academia, focused clusters, and strong chains linking research to product and business creation, the Dutch Life Sciences & Health sector competes on a global scale.

Total solutions from science to patients

This innate approach to cooperation and creativity, and the willingness to work together to achieve greater goals, are what has led to the Netherlands achieving a top position in public-private research and ‘open innovation’. For the Dutch Life Science & Health sector, knowledge-sharing and close cooperation and collaboration between companies and research institutions, with full support of the government, is what drives this success. The Dutch model, moving from research to knowledge, innovation, and products, generates sustainable, affordable and proven solutions and sets the standard worldwide. The strong inter-disciplinary approach produces a high level of knowledge and expertise across the entire healthcare chain, from science, to patient, and often results in comprehensive ‘total solutions’. Innovative Dutch products and services in the areas of as remote care, medical apparatus, and diagnostic coupling between Pharma and Medtech, provide the answers to many of today’s global healthcare challenges.

5 strengths of the Dutch Life Sciences & Health sector

1. Remarkable contributions throughout history

The Dutch made impressive contributions to the world’s medical science:

- Hans and Zacharias Jansen invented the microscope around 1590

- Dutchman Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632 - 1723) is known as ‘the Father of Microbiology’

- Biologist Jan Swammerdam was the first, in 1658, to observe and describe red blood cells

- Willem Einthoven won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1924 for his invention of the electrocardiogram.

- And Willem Kolff, who is regarded as one of the most important physicians of the twentieth century, developed and applied the first functioning artificial kidney in 1943, and was involved in many breakthrough developments, such as the first heart-lung machine and an artificial heart.

2. Collaboration, cooperation and coalition building

Today, the Netherlands remains a major player in the global Life Sciences and Health industry, with a strong technological position in molecular imaging, medical informatics, biopharmaceuticals, human and veterinary vaccines, regenerative medicine and biomaterials (biomaterial coatings in medical devices), medical technology and health infrastructure. The Dutch sector owes this position to collaboration, cooperation and coalition building between businesses, research institutes and universities, supported by government, linking research to product and business creation.

3. A turn-key approach

Expertise in healthcare infrastructure is characterised by a turn-key plus approach: Dutch companies are able to cover all  aspects from hospital design & engineering, financing, waste management, medical equipment etc. while paying special attention paid to energy efficiency and ‘healing environments’.

Life Sciences & Health is one of the leading sectors in the Dutch economy, and was therefore appointed top priority by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. The top sector aims to contribute to the sector's success by joining forces and uniting partners along the prevention-cure-care (value) chain. All with a clear mission: vital citizens in a healthy economy.

4. National Genome Initiative

The country also boasts a national genomics programme and three large public-private programs on Pharmacotherapy, Translational Molecular Medicine and Regenerative Medicine. In these programs (worth over € 1 billion), large industries and SMEs collaborate with all the eight medical faculties – including the academic hospitals and the medical technology faculties of the three Technical Universities – on R&D projects close to the clinical practice. These programs ended  in 2012 and 2013, but the initiatives they have brought forth are still developing.

5. High quality, accessible and affordable health care

Dutch health care is of high quality and accessible and affordable for all. It is no wonder that many countries point to the Netherlands as an example of how the quality of health care can be guaranteed while the costs can be maintained at a reasonable level. In terms of the future, the Netherlands is embracing eHealth (telemedicine, online therapy and prevention).