Resilience and Sustainability Will Guide Our Path to the Future
Invest in Holland aims to contribute to an innovative and sustainable economy of the Netherlands
By Jeroen Nijland, Commissioner, Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency
Normally, as I write this blog at the start of a fresh year, I begin with a retrospective look at the year gone by. However, as we now find ourselves in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic, our focus is clearly on the present and the future. 2020 will be a year that impacts our lives, both personal and professional, and our world in many ways.
In that perspective, while it is always good to review past successes, I feel that this year, especially, it is prudent to look to the future, as the challenges we are all facing, particularly in areas such as health, climate, and food security, are coming sharply and rapidly into focus.
Climate for change
Our task, here at the NFIA, of encouraging business and creating a climate that invites foreign businesses to grow and innovate, is not simply about creating new jobs. It is about contributing to the economy. It is about creating a business climate in which synergies can readily and rapidly flourish in a sustainable and responsible manner. Where clusters of associated businesses, research bodies and knowledge institutions can collaborate in an open and seamless manner. Where businesses can grow and contribute to solutions for the key challenges facing our world today.
Focus for growth
Our goal, over the coming years, is precisely to attract foreign businesses that can aid us in our ambition to make the Netherlands more innovative and sustainable, bolstering our existing ecosystems. This includes companies that can contribute to the further digitalization of our economy, as this is a key issue underpinning our connectivity and resilience. We are particularly keen to welcome organizations operating at the forefront of societal challenges, in areas such as ICT, Life Sciences & Health, High Tech Systems & Materials, Chemicals, (renewable) Energy and Agrifood.
Last year, Invest in Holland welcomed many new organizations to the Netherlands that already enable this vision to become reality.
Food for thought
Fruit juice and smoothie manufacturer, Innocent, set up operations in the 60-hectare Rotterdam Food Hub with a sustainable CO2-netral production facility. The ‘future of food’ also gained a boost when Unilever opened its EUR 85mln global Foods Innovation Centre at the Wageningen University campus. Its primary areas of research will include plant-based ingredients and meat alternatives, efficient crops, sustainable food packaging and nutritious foods.
The right chemistry
Japanese chemical concerns, Mitsui Prime Advanced Composites Europe B.V. and Sekisui S-Lec B.V., suppliers to the automotive sector, both established R&D centers and production facilities at Brightlands Chemelot Campus, in the south of the country. Mitsui produces lightweight polypropylene for automotive components that help reduce weight and consequently CO2 emissions. Sekisui produces resin for PVB film, that was previously transported from Japan, for use in the automotive industry and architecture.
Healthy in Holland
We also welcomed significant developments in the area of Life Sciences & Health. Following the decision of the European Medicines agency to relocate to Amsterdam, we delivered their new headquarter building in record time, enabling them to continue their crucially important work of assessing and monitoring the quality and safety of medicines across EU member states. Our vibrant Life Sciences & Health community was further bolstered by MSDs decision to restructure its Netherlands operation by creating a spin-off specifically for Women’s Health, called Organon & Co. In addition to women’s health, Organon also focuses on biosimilars, oncology and inflammatory diseases.
These are just a few examples of organizations that find the right environment for their businesses here in the Netherlands. In turn, they themselves contribute to the growth and success of their sectors in a symbiotic relationship that results in a healthy and sustainable, open and collaborative ecosystem.
Space to grow
We never forget that companies look at multiple location options when deciding to expand or set up operations in Europe. To ensure that we maintain a healthy and competitive economy we work hard to implement and fulfil our government’s mission-driven innovation policy and key technology approach, when it comes to welcoming new businesses.
This means that we actively monitor the real-time situation through our Invest in Holland network and adjust, where necessary, to maintain our leading-edge services and competitive environment. Between 2015 and 2019, we welcomed 1,800 investment projects delivering some 57 thousand workplaces with a value of around EUR 12 bln – a track record we are justifiably proud of.
Path to growth
As the Invest in Holland network grows and strengthens, we are able to form a clearer strategic focus that will help us resolve our purpose. The former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan said, wisely: ‘To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.’
With forty successful years of operations behind us and the wealth of knowledge we have gained during that time, we are able, better than ever, to make informed decisions and to steer our efforts to match the demands of our times. By creating a fertile environment where businesses can openly connect and collaborate in a centrally-located, safe and stable economy, then we truly begin to establish win/win outcomes that benefit both people and planet.22 April 2020