Asking ‘is the Netherlands is a good place to start a business?’ usually engenders a highly positive response.
Naturally, there are many considerations including the primary, secondary and ongoing costs of the business location, employee and stakeholder requirements, tax burdens, client base, growth potential and long-term investment returns.
From Amsterdam to the Hague, there are many cities and regions that boast reasons to locate a business there, but the province of Brabant is a region that offers many investment strengths and possibilities.
As a business location, the strengths of Brabant include the rapid and direct access to key markets in Europe enjoyed by the Netherlands’ major cities.
The gross domestic product (GDP) of the province was €116.1bn ($116.69bn) in 2018, accounting for 15% of the Netherlands’ economic output. GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power was €39,900 or 132% of the EU27 average in the same year.
Diverse business landscape boosting Brabant
Employment is found in the agricultural, industrial and service sectors, with agricultural and food processing companies such as Agrifirm, Bavaria, FrieslandCampina, Mars Incorporated, Nutreco and Royal Canin all having large production sites or their headquarters located in the province.
The main agricultural products are sweetcorn, wheat and sugar beet, while cows and pigs are held as livestock.
Eindhoven, Tilburg and Breda each boast outstanding logistical connections to neighbouring markets and the rest of Europe via road, rail, barge and three major international airports within one hour’s travel time, namely Amsterdam, Brussels and Düsseldorf.
In addition to traditional industries, Brabant is becoming an attractive investment location for solar based projects. In December 2022,the Province of North Brabant, the Brabant Development Company, and TNO, partner in Solliance signed a new agreement to develop the new phase for the application of solar energy in Europe.
Based out of Brainport Industry Campus (BIC) in Eindhoven, TNO is creating a new research line to develop innovative solar energy products, a strategy that will deliver increased investment in the region and ongoing employment opportunities.
Innovation and investment strengths in Brabant
With the now-established business culture of industry, researchers and academia working together, innovation and investment is stronger than ever in Brabant. With this, the rush to invest in Brabant continues across multiple sectors and industry verticals.
Brabant has now become a burgeoning part of the region’s innovative investment ecosystem, with a plethora of high-tech systems and materials, life sciences and health, agri-food and IT companies making it their base.
Location, when combined with the open and collaborative community, helps companies that locate and invest in Brabant to accelerate their innovation and fast-track their products or services to market.
In Brabant, every component, every conceivable machine, every possible integrated system or cyber-physical system can be invented, designed, developed, produced and assembled, marketed, commercialised and maintained, even remotely, if and where necessary.
Four patent applications per day emanate from this hotbed of research and development, accounting for 50% of all Dutch patent applications, making it Europe’s fastest-evolving tech/industrial ecosystem.
The long-established open innovation and collaboration culture helps to fast-track innovation, development and entrepreneurship to help solve societal challenges and making the region a true innovation accelerator.
Best place to start a business in the Netherlands: spotlight on Brabant
Brabant is one of the most innovative and investment-friendly regions in the Netherlands and Europe.
As well as initiatives that encourage and fund high-tech industries, cities such as Eindhoven, Breda and Tilburg play host to advanced manufacturing and technological companies, from established names to start-ups.
One of the major drivers of the growing economy in Brabant, and a reason companies invest in Brabant, is the growing collaboration between businesses, government agencies and academia.
In business terms, this cooperation creates and nurtures an environment where innovation can thrive and prosper.
The eclectic range of industries and sectors in the region include but are not limited to everything from battery storage, emission-free cars and electric flights to robotics and AI, and the future of processing chips, as well as an increasingly strong life sciences sector.
For many years, investing in Netherlands-based companies in Brabant has occurred due to the region’s long-standing reputation as a centre of cooperation between research institutes and industry.
This tradition started with Philips (the NatLab was a physical expression of this) and has since expanded to large cooperative networks. The Eindhoven University of Technology hosts an incubator for technology start-ups and the NatLab has developed into High-Tech Campus Eindhoven.
Harnessing the investment and economic opportunities in Eindhoven, research organisation TNO has opened a branch on the university campus.
This tradition has also fostered inter-industry cooperation in the region; one example of this is the announcement in September 2010 of a new research lab for high-grade packaging materials, a cooperation involving IPS Packaging and Thales Cryogenics.
This cooperative tradition has also developed into a different direction than the traditional technology research done at the university.
Starting in 2002, the university, the Catharina hospital, Philips Medical and the University of Maastricht joined forces and started joint research into biomedical science, technology and engineering.
Within Eindhoven, this research has been concentrated in a new university faculty (BioMedical Technology or BMT). This development has also made Eindhoven a biomedical technology hub within the country and Europe.
There are eight ‘innovation campuses’ in North Brabant, including High-Tech Campus Eindhoven. In 2017, Brabant companies applied for 3,655 patents, earning a spot in the regional top five in Europe.
Other important industries are automobile production (for example, General Motors in Breda, Tesla in Tilburg and DAF in Eindhoven), textiles and shoes.
Invest in Brabant Development Agency
Brabant is Bright is an initiative from the Brabant Development Agency to promote the region of Brabant abroad.
Promoting Brabant as the best place to start a business in the Netherlands, it is based in Tilburg and offers a wide and varied range of services and support networks for businesses looking to set up in the city and region.
Designed to attract new businesses to the province, the agency provides people looking to set up shop in Brabant with important information and a range of networking connections and opportunities to connect stakeholders and encourage collaboration.
Location, location, location
When deciding on a business location and the attendant investment opportunities, location and geography are major considerations.
In this respect, to invest in Brabant is to invest in a prime location, as it is strategically located in north-western Europe in-between Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Europe’s leading seaport, Rotterdam, the Port of Antwerp, Brussels and the major German economic heartland of the Rhine-Ruhr region.
Information, statistics and estimates are from Eurostat, Statistics Netherlands, CBS Netherlands, Official Brabant and QS World University Rankings.